By Lauren Ferrone
Published: Thursday, September 26, 2019
Britannia Roundabout probably isn’t the best place for new drivers to start. There are, however, other areas better suited to learners.
Keys2drive – a federal government-funded, RAA-supported program offering free driving lessons – has turned 10. To celebrate, we reveal 5 of the safest places to practise driving.
1. Empty parking lots
An empty parking lot is the perfect starting point. For most learners, they’re customary cruising spots.
Often there are fewer vehicles manoeuvring their way around small parking lots, which makes them safe spots to get a feel for being behind the wheel.
Learners can practise driving at slow speeds, using indicators and parking between the lines. It’s best to steer clear of private parking lots. Instead, stick to bigger, public car parks, such as those found at Westfield shopping centres.
Remember: while it’s not illegal to drive through empty parking spaces, take note of any signposted speed limits and abide by them.
2. Crowded parking lots
Ready to graduate to a busier parking lot? We’d still recommend avoiding peak shopping times, like Saturdays and Sundays.
Practising in a crowded parking lot gives new drivers the chance to work on braking, reaction times and, of course, parking between cars. Try to pick a parking lot with both angle and 90-degree parks to get a feel for different spaces.
Just be mindful that car parks are common collision hot spots, so make sure that as a supervisor, you’re on the lookout for pedestrians and reversing vehicles.
3. Roads with different speed limits
Speed limits can change quickly – sometimes with little notice. In fact, it’s common to go from 80km/h to 60km/h within a few metres. Quick reflexes and coordination are vital in situations like these.
In particular, school and roadwork zones, where speeds can drop to as low as 25km/h, are good areas to practise. Remind your learner to think ahead and take note of all road signs.
Just remember: learners can’t exceed 100km/h at any time, even if the local speed limit exceeds 100 km/h.
4. Roads with roundabouts
Perhaps save Britannia for another time. There are plenty of easier-to-navigate roundabouts in Adelaide where learners can test their skills.
Roundabouts are considered safer than intersections with traffic lights as they’re less congested, but there’s still a lot going on.
Controlling your speed, signalling your intention with enough warning and using your judgment are all vital skills needed when navigating a roundabout.
If you’re after some tips to pass onto new drivers about safely navigating roundabouts, read our story on 5 common roundabout wrongdoings.
5. The freeway
Driving on the freeway can be scary, especially for learners. However, it’s important not to let fear stop new drivers from travelling on these high-speed roads.
On the freeway, traffic flow is generally smooth because there are no traffic lights or intersections. This makes it the ideal spot for learners to get comfortable travelling on the road with other cars, at a consistent speed.
It’s also an opportunity to practise safely merging into fast-moving traffic. Just remember that when entering the freeway from any of the on-ramps, you must give way to traffic on the freeway.
However, cruising on a major road, like the South Eastern Freeway, isn’t as simple as driving in a straight line for a long time. Timing and preparation are important.
New drivers will need to pay attention to the distance between them and the car in front, as well as watch out for slow-moving trucks. What’s more, they’ll need to be aware of their surroundings and signal their intention to exit roads, giving sufficient warning to other road users.
Our final word
Wherever a learner practises driving, programs like Keys2drive are available to give them – and their supervising drivers – the tools to become safer behind the wheel.