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The LDS Blog

When will I know I'm ready for my P1 PDA? (

Posted on 2 March, 2020 at 21:20

Straight up, the most important pointer as to your readiness is the amount of 'spare' attention you have available at any one time. 

At the start, your head was probably spinning with all the new information you were taking on board, and at the end of your first few lessons, you were totaaly bushed!  Just about every driver before you has been on that journey just as you are now.  Actually, you are probably getting it a little harder.

The number of P Platers dying on our roads within the first 6 months of solo driving has resulted in State Governments around Oz tightening up the whole license acheiving process in an effort to curb that horrifying statistic.  

When I went for my own MDL in 1975, there was no L1 or L2 system, and only one twelve-month P Plate to serve.  I went for a 15 minute drive with a copper, and just drove around the country town I lived in.  We did a few stop signs, give way signs, a hill-start and that was about it.  I was assessed in an old Falcon station wagon with 'three-on-the-tree' and rear-view mirrors on the fenders, but I passed. Wish I had that old XM Falcon now - it would be worth a bundle!  Bottom line though, there were less cars, less expectations and less distractions.

I think that attitudes and expectations have changed in the last 50 years when it comes to obtaining the privelige to drive a car on our streets.  And that has had to be addressed. The Graduated Driver's Licensing System is a big step in the right direction.  The skill required to pilot a car safely through our city does not come after 80 hours of supervised driving.  It won't come until proably about 5 years after you are awarded your P1 MDL.  So the graduated system is trying to prepare you to learn those skills, post P1, and with the Keys2Drive program, see you safely through that first six months.

The question still stands though right here, When will I know I'm I ready for my P1 PDA?

The authors of the Graduated Driver' License System have some guidelines that will help you decide if you are indeed ready for your P1 assessment.  These are all valid pointers, and when you can honestly tick each box as acheived that level, go for it.  But if you have not experienced any pointer, or are not able to complete any action safely, then here is a cheat sheet you can use to judge your level of expertise today, right now.

If you are ready to go forward for your P1 PDA, you:

Can move more than one car control at once

This is like using the accelerator, indicator and steer all at the same time.  For a frequently used control or button, you should be able to move your hand to it almost without looking.

Can make the car go in the direction and at the speed that you want it to go

Seems simple, but can you keep the car in your lane and not wander about.  Can you line up the car in 'right tyrn' lanes, and when a gap appears, can you use it and join a trffic flow seamlessly?

Drive smoothly when doing manoeuvres, and when driving around bends, on hills, at intersections, when merging and when changing lanes

Are you able to complete a Three Point Turn?  Can you maintain a steady turn on a bend without constantly adding or taking turn of the steering? Are you able to merge or change lanes easily, using indicators effectively and courteously?

Obey all road rules when driving

Can you?  You may have passed the Drivers Knowledge Quiz, but can you remember them all?

Are making driving decisions (which shows you have started to think in advance)

This relates to planning ahead and deciding the path your car should take, when to start braking in anticipation of making a turn, entering a driveway. what gear you should be in, 

Are thinking about where you would like to drive next

So when you get to point A (The shops) where to next (Mates place)

Use clues like information signs, landmarks and road signs/markings to help you work out where you need to drive

Markings on the road are not optional.  They provide critical information about where your car should be on the road.  Cutting corners may result in a head on collision.  Not good!  Turn lanes make turns easier, and advertise to everyone else where you re going.  Stop lines are STOP lines - no exception!  And out on country roads, solid white lines should be like a brickwall - inpenetrable!

Can change your driving route to get back on-course if you find you have turned into the wrong street

So, you get in the wrong lane.  Do you continue as if you are in your right lane, or do you go with your mistake and fix it down the road.  I hope you take the second option.  Ity may mean you go a block further before taking the turn, or you may even need to do a U Turn down the road, then thats what you do.  And remembere to do it right next time!

Watch other road users (including pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers) when driving

Great idea!  Do it all the time.  It will make a trip as a passenger more interesting, and practise hazard detection and how you would respond to it.  Get your brain thinking and working like a driver!

Can pick gaps in traffic when turning or changing lanes

Self explanatory - you should start to judge other car speeds and where they will go.  Look for indicators as a predictor, but always remember, sometimes indicators lie!

Adjust your speed to match the road, weather and traffic conditions

As you gain experience and confidence, you should be able to travel at the same speed as the traffic flow you have joined.  Weather conditions and time-of-day will have a bearing on how fast you and traffic will travel.  Remember the speed limit is just that - a limit - and while the speed limit may be 60KPH, a safer speed might be 50 or 40 KPH in wet, or smoky, or after dark conditions.

These are all valid pointers and good indicators on where you are in your journey.  Please use them.


Tony @ LDS














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