Getting your learner’s permit can be an exciting time. You’re learning an essential life-long skill and are on the journey to greater independence. But before you’re ready to drive solo as a learner driver, there are some hurdles you’ll need to overcome.
From mastering the dreaded reverse parallel park, to driving on the highway and getting insured as a young driver, there’s plenty to do when you’re just starting out behind the wheel.
In this guide, we cover how to prepare a car for a learner driver – from insurance to safety, permits, car adjustments, and more. Let’s get started!
Car insurance is essential for every driver, but perhaps even more so for learner drivers. Young people are much more likely to be involved in road accidents, and you might have to fork out big out-of-pocket expenses if you’re not insured as a learner driver.
It’s also worth noting that in many jurisdictions, driving while uninsured is illegal.
As an L-plater, you can either take out your own insurance policy if you’re the vehicle owner or get a parent/guardian to add you to their insurance if you’re driving their car.
You could also be automatically covered under your parents’ existing insurance policy if you’re learning to drive their car, depending on their policy and level of coverage. Consult with your parents, and ask them to confirm with their insurer if they aren’t sure you’ll be covered.
When searching for the right type of car insurance, you should have a basic understanding of the different types and what they cover. Your decision will depend on where you live, what car you drive, and what you’re earning.
Car insurance coverage usually includes:
- Comprehensive Car Insurance – this covers the cost of repairs for damage sustained by both parties in an accident and against theft and natural events.
- CTP Insurance – this is a legal requirement in Australian states when you register your vehicle. This covers the costs if someone is injured in a car accident that you’re responsible for.
Some insurers also add additional charges for insuring young drivers since they’re involved in more accidents. If you’re trying to avoid these extra charges and want a comprehensive, all-in-one insurance policy as a learner driver, click here.
- Avoid large SUVs, trucks, and minivans, as they are more difficult for newer drivers to navigate.
- Avoid smaller, lighter cars that may not hold up well in a crash.
- Avoid cars that have been recalled by the manufacturer for safety defects. Be extra careful of this when purchasing a used car.
- Consider a vehicle with extra safety features, such as brake assist, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, etc.
Before purchasing any car, check the car’s safety rating on the ANCAP website. Vehicles with a five-star rating provide much better protection in an accident than cars with lower ratings. Pay close attention to the year of manufacture – companies are constantly recalling cars and releasing newer models with better safety features.
If buying a used car, refer to the Used Car Safety Buyer’s Guide, and choose a vehicle from the “Safe Picks” listed.
Finding a comfortable driving position as a learner driver is extremely important. You want to be able to easily reach the pedal and break, check your blind spots, and comfortably turn the wheel.
Before you turn the ignition, follow this checklist to ensure you’re in a comfortable driving position.
Pull the driver’s seat forward or backward until you can comfortably reach the pedals. Ensure your knees are slightly bent and your hip is in the back of the seat for full spinal support.
Adjust the wheel so it faces your chest and not your face, with about 10 inches between you and the middle of the wheel. Make sure your arms are slightly bent when holding the wheel, and you can turn it comfortably from where you are seated.
Ensure that the seat belt adjuster sits about level with your right ear and there are no twists in the belt. The fastened seat belt should sit low, firm, and flat across your hips and shoulders.
Adjust your rearview mirror so you can see as much as possible out of the back window and little of your car interior without moving your head too much.
Move your wing mirrors until the middle of the glass lines up with the horizon. Then, push them outwards until the inside edge of the mirror just shows the side of your vehicle.
If you’re getting behind the wheel as a learner driver in Australia, you should always carry your three Ls.
Most states legally require learner drivers to carry their permits when driving in Australia. Remember to keep your permit in your wallet or the glove box so you always have it on you.
Learner drivers must log a specific number of hours (50-120 in different areas of Australia) of supervised driving experience and night driving before they can apply for their probationary driver’s licence. You should keep a logbook of your driving hours in the glovebox of your car, as well as tracking your hours digitally.
It’s essential to display learner plates on the front and back of your vehicle when driving as a learner. This helps other drivers be aware that an inexperienced driver is with them so they can be extra careful around you.
So, to sum it up – choose a safe car when you’re just starting, familiarise yourself with Australian road rules for learner drivers, adjust your vehicle to a comfortable driving position, and get learners driver car insurance to cover you in case of an accident.
And remember, driving takes time and practice to master, so take it slow and steady, and always put safety first!