10 Myths and Misconceptions About Getting Your Provisional Licence

There is a lot involved with getting your learner licence and the eventual undergoing of a practical driving test to upgrade your L plates to your Ps. If you take the time to sit down and sift through the mountain of paperwork involved, you will find that all the relevant information you need to know is right there in front of you.

Unfortunately, many people don’t take the time to learn the information and this creates a large-scale misinformation effect among fellow learners and supervisors.

Subsequently, driving instructors are flooded with questions regarding various aspects of learner driving, logbooks and driving tests that all stem from inaccurate information that students and parents have heard from ‘a friend of a friend’.

Today I am going to debunk the 10 most common myths and misconceptions that I hear from students and parents alike.

1. “Did you hear? They’re changing the number of hours you have to do to 200!”

No, as a matter of fact, I didn’t hear… because they aren’t.

This myth has arguably been the most persistent throughout my career. Every time it seems to have finally died out, a student gets in the car and asks me if it’s true that they’re upgrading the logbook requirement of 100 hours of supervised driving to 200 hours.

I can only guess as to where this rumour spawned from, but I have my suspicions. In 2015 the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads revised the rules for the P1 practical driving test, making them tougher. It was around this time that the 200 hours myth exploded, and every other student was asking me about it.

This is completely false.

The minimum number of hours of supervised driving you are required to log before being eligible for a practical driving test is still 100 hours and will likely remain 100 hours for years to come. The only reason it would change would be if TMR determined there was reason enough to lengthen it, whatever that would be. Even if this were to happen it is unlikely it would be increased by as much as 100 hours.

Alas, I fear this myth is here to stay.

2. You’re required to do 10 lessons with a driving school

This misconception is also fairly common although it is a lot easier to understand how it came to be.

You’re not required to do ANY lessons with a driving school, however it is highly recommended that you do at least some, as parents often adopt bad driving habits that they pass on to their kids.

TMR encourages learner drivers to seek professional driving lessons by allowing your first 10 hours of said pro driver training to be counted at triple time. For example, if you partake in 11 hours of driving with a qualified driving instructor it would count as 31 hours in your logbook.

Although they’re not compulsory, 9 times out of 10 a professional instructor knows better than your parents and thus you will learn how to operate a vehicle and understand the road rules at a higher standard.

Of course, there are always exceptions, so I urge you to do your research when looking for a driving school and choose one with a good reputation and safe cars.

3. “My friend’s logbook was approved in 1 day!”

No, it wasn’t.

To be fair to this myth, it’s not impossible to get your logbook approved in a single day, however it is extremely rare. The only time I’ve heard of someone being successful in this endeavour was when the individual went directly to TMR with their book and demanded it be approved on the spot as their test was the following day, rather than following the rules and mailing it to them and waiting the advised 10-12 business days like everybody else.

Unfortunately, the few people who do manage to get their books approved in 1 day tend to then assume this is the case for everyone and proceed to ‘enlighten’ any friends of theirs that are still on their Ls.

This can cause major headaches for everyone in instances where a student has left the ‘sending away’ of their logbook until a day or two before their test, based on a mate’s promise that it only takes a day to be approved.

You cannot go for your test until your logbook has been approved.

The official process to get your logbook approved is to take it to your nearest Australia Post office where they will mail it to the right people for you, free of charge. You must then wait 10-12 business days (give or take, depending on how busy they are), for a text message or email confirmation of its approval followed shortly by the relevant paperwork being mailed to you.

Of course, there is also the logbook app through which you can have your hours approved but this is not guaranteed to be quicker.

My recommendation mirrors that of TMR itself. Get your logbook approved and then book your test, not the other way around. In my experience, it usually only takes 5-7 business days providing they’re not too busy. The best thing to do is assume it will take 10-12 business days most of the year, and at least 14 from October through to mid-December as this is undoubtedly their busiest time.

4/5. You must use a driving school car for you test & TMR supplies cars for your test

These next two misconceptions go hand in hand. Although far less common, they crop up often enough to make it onto this list.

When going for your driving test you have the option to either use your own vehicle or to go with a driving school, each with its own set of pros and cons.

There are two reasons most people use a driving school car for their test. A), driving schools usually offer a test pack which includes a lesson right before your test as well as the use of their car for said test and B), most bigger driving schools bulk buy test spots from TMR, meaning if you book a test pack with them, it comes with a pre-determined test spot.

This is not compulsory, however. You’re more than welcome to use your own vehicle for your driving test if that’s what you’re more comfortable driving or if you want to save some money. Keep in mind that you will have to book your test yourself, get there in time, and that you won’t get the benefit of that last-minute refresher.

Following a similar vein, I often get students who are planning on not using a driving school for their test but are under the impression that the test centre will provide a vehicle for them.

The fact of the matter is that they don’t.

TMR has never provided vehicles for learners undergoing their practical driving tests and likely never will.

6/7. Driving examiners fail you on your first attempt &, “The Examiner tricked me!”

I’m pairing 6 and 7 as well because these are two variations of one myth.

The myth that examiners fail you on your first attempt is a belief almost exclusively held by parents. How it exists baffles me, and yet, it does.

Many parents seem to be under the impression that failing students on their first try is common practice as some method of diffusing their egos.

In actuality, the examiner is oblivious to the fact that it’s your first time. It could be your third, fifth or fiftieth time and they still wouldn’t have a clue because they aren’t told and to be honest, they probably couldn’t care less.

The examiner’s job is simply to assess the student they have been assigned and move on to the next one. Any failure is due to a mistake/s made by the student, not some discriminatory vendetta against anyone who hasn’t been tested before; and this brings me to number 7.

Driving instructors and examiners let out a collective groan at the myth that you will often be tricked into making a critical error.

This myth tends to derive from a student’s reluctance or even out right refusal to accept that they simply stuffed up.

Here is an example to give you some context: Say you are a learner driver currently undergoing your practical driving test. You’re travelling down a road and approaching two streets on the right-hand side of the road. The street closest to you is a one-way street with traffic heading in the direction of the road you are currently on, and thus there is a ‘no right turn’ sign facing your lane. The second street is a two way. As you get closer to the first street the examiner says, “Take the next right, please.” You think to yourself, “They want me to turn now,” and so you turn right into the one-way street receiving a critical error and failing your test.

The issue here is misinterpretation by the student. Examiners give you directions ahead of time on purpose and often specifically in instances like the one above as a test of your ability to read road signs and markings and obey them accordingly.

When they ask you to take the next right they mean the next right that you are allowed to take, not the next physical right-hand turn.

Unfortunately, students tend to assume that, “next,” means, “now,” and will often ignore the signs that state otherwise out of fear of disobeying the examiner. Then when they’re told they’ve failed their test and are naturally upset, they shift blame to the person who tested them.

Examiners never trick learners. They have no need to. They gain nought from sabotaging your chances of success. Their job is to ensure you aren’t going to get your licence and drive around like a mindless zombie, but rather that you are going to be aware of what you’re doing and obey the road rules once you’re out on your own.

And a quick side-note, you don’t receive an error for failing to follow an examiner’s directions. To be completely frank, sh** happens.

Sometimes it might not be safe for you to get into the appropriate lane to turn where they’ve asked you to turn. Sometimes you might not hear them properly. There’s nothing unsafe about missing your turn and for this reason you won’t have any points deducted for doing so.

8. Incorrectly performing a manoeuvre means you fail your test

This misconception is among one of the most commonly held by students. I believe it’s less due to the spreading of misinformation and more due to people simply assuming this is the case.

It isn’t.

In your test, you are given a tolerance of 8 minor errors with the 9th warranting a fail. However, should you perform one critical error you will fail immediately. You will also fail if you repeat the same minor error multiple times, with tolerances varying depending on how substantial it is considered to be (e.g. 1 stall is a minor but stalling 6 times is a critical).

This is where it can get a bit confusing, so I’ll break things down.

A critical error is a critical error regardless of whether you make it during a manoeuvre or not.

However, if you were asked to do a reverse parallel park, for example, and stuffed it up so much that you ended up parked perpendicularly to the curb, you won't fail your test for it. It is counted as a minor error.

Had you mounted the curb while parallel parking then it'd be a different story as mounting the curb is a critical error.

Incorrectly performing either of the two manoeuvres you will be asked to do will not result in you failing unless the mistake you make is a critical one. It could take you fifty turns to do what should have been a three-point turn but unless you crashed the car it isn't gonna result in you failing your test.

Basically, the manoeuvres are not tests in themselves but rather another aspect of driving that’s incorporated into your exam, just like stopping at a stop sign.

Stall at the stop sign and it's a minor error. End up in the middle of the street when asked to reverse in a straight line and it's a minor error.

But should you run the stop sign, it's a critical. Likewise if you reversed up onto the footpath when reversing in a straight line, it's a critical.

9. You have to drive on the motorway during your practical driving test

Ironically, one of the changes made to the test rules mentioned earlier was the incorporation of compulsory high speed evaluation - i.e. driving on the motorway

Despite this it still counts as a myth because not all examiners will take you on the motorway during your exam.

That’s not to say you won’t drive on the motorway in your test because you very well might. It all depends on which route the examiner decides to take you on.

Some will have you merging onto the motorway and eventually exiting, some won’t take you anywhere near it.

Aside from the obvious fact that if you’re ready to get your driver’s licence then you should definitely know how to drive on the motorway, it pays to practise so that you’re prepared just in case.

10. You’re not allowed to cross your hands during your driving test

This myth is potentially the most unbelievable.

Many a new student that I teach will tell me that mum or dad told them they aren’t allowed to cross their hands when turning and, as a result, attempt to steer around every corner using the push-pull method (which in some cases can be awkward and slow if not entirely unsafe).

What these students mean when they say “crossing your hands” is just plain old hand over hand steering.

These parents are either outright stupid or (and I hope this is the real reason), getting ‘crossing hands’ confused with ‘crossing arms’.

When it comes to turning the wheel, the only thing you will be marked down for in your test is crossing your arms. Why? Not only does it limit your turning radius, but it also renders you less capable of manoeuvring the vehicle in the case of an emergency as your arms are all tangled.

Hand over hand steering method
Push-pull steering method
Crossing your arms while steering

The push-pull method and the hand over hand method are both correct and have their place. The only one you will be marked down for is crossing forearms as this is unsafe.

It is important to remember that information gets tainted when passed from one person to another. These 10 myths and misconceptions are a result of a giant game of Chinese whispers among parents and their learner drivers throughout Queensland. The only time you should assume you know how the process of learning to drive and getting your provisional licence works is if you’ve taken the time to read the paperwork, ask your driving instructor, and made any inquiries you may have to the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads. If you do these things you will be better prepared when you undergo your practical driving test and can save yourself, your parents, your instructor, and the Department a lot of headaches come test day.

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