Mastering driving is an exciting achievement. But to ensure road safety, the Department of Transport requires those learning to drive to follow specific guidelines and meet certain criteria.
If you’re wondering how to get started, here is a simple guide explaining the steps to drive in Perth, Western Australia.
Step 1: Get Your Learner’s Permit
Before you can get behind the wheel for the first time, whether supervised or not, you must have a learner’s permit.
To apply for the permit, you have to fill out a driver’s licence application and sit a computerised theory test with the Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS).
The test will assess your understanding of Western Australia’s traffic rules. You must answer at least 24 of the 30 multiple-choice questions correctly to pass.
Other requirements for the learner’s permit include:
- Being age 16 and above
- Passing the eyesight and medical tests
- Providing identification documents
- Paying application fees
Step 2: Learn to Drive
Once you have your learner’s permit, you can start learning and practising to drive.
Find a qualified driving school to teach and supervise you.
It is highly recommended that first-time learners take professional driving lessons from reputable driving instructors. You get to master all the traffic rules and proper driving procedures quickly and easily by learning from experts.
DVS will provide you with either a digital or printed learner’s logbook, in which you have to log your supervised driving hours.
Learners under 25 years old must complete at least 50 hours of supervised driving, including 5 hours of night-time driving.
It takes years to gain enough driving experience; the 50 hours is just the bare minimum.
As a learner, practice driving as much as possible in various weather and traffic conditions. The more time you rack up behind the wheel, the more you build up confidence in vehicle control and traffic manoeuvres.
Step 3: Take the Hazard Perception Test
The Hazard Perception Test (HPT) is a computerised exam that assesses your ability to make safe driving decisions.
The test features video clips that simulate various traffic situations, and you indicate the appropriate action to take by clicking your mouse. All the simulations and instructions are quite basic, so you do not need any special computer skills to complete the exam.
Step 4: Pass the Practical Driving Assessment
The Practical Driving Assessment (PDA) is a thorough test of vehicle control, traffic awareness, responsiveness, and driving skills. During the test, a driving assessor will sit with you in the vehicle and ask you to do some manoeuvres while noting how well you handle them.
Arrive at the testing site at least 15 minutes before the appointed time and bring your learner’s permit, identification documents, and your learner’s logbook along with a declaration of completion signed by your supervising driver.
Ensure you prepare for the test by revisiting everything you have learned both on the road and on paper.
Before sitting the Practical Driving Assessment, it’s always recommended that you have your driving instructor conduct a mock driving test. This will help to prepare your for the real assessment and calm nerves as you’ll be familiar with the process and marking criteria.
Step 5: Get Your P-Plates
After passing your PDA, the Department of Transport will issue you with a provisional licence.
You will have a red P-Plate for the first six months and a green P-Plate for another 18 months. P-plates must be displayed at all times when driving.
As a provisional licence holder, you must abide by certain Australian road rules, such as night-driving restrictions, speeding limitations and zero per cent blood alcohol content.
After a two-year probation period, you will automatically graduate to a fully licenced driver.
Do not get discouraged if you fail any of these tests on your first try; most people do not pass on their first attempt. Besides, you can always retake any of the tests.
However, having a professional driving instructor guide you from the very start may help you to pass your test on the first time since you will know what to expect and how to prepare.