Are there certifications for driving schools?

In Victoria, Australia, individual driving instructors must be certified. However, driving schools are not. Driving schools are simply businesses that give you access to driving instructors who hold the Driving Instructor Authority (DIA) qualification, which is granted by the Victorian Taxi Directorate. If you plan to use a driving school, then find out what kind of value they’re adding to your experience as a learner driver.

Does the driving school require more from their instructors than simply a DIA? Are they required to have a certain amount of experience? Do they undergo additional training? Are they required to stay up to date with changes in the laws and testing procedures that govern drivers’ training and licensure? Are they evaluated regularly? Does the school provide information on their pass percentages or on their teaching styles? Does the school have that kind of information available as a composite? Does the school have a special teaching philosophy or method that it uses? Does it have a good reputation? Does the school offer special facilities or group classes that could help with your learning experience?

All of these are important questions to ask if you’re a beginning driver who’s looking for the right driving school.

How many driving lessons do most people need?

The number of driving lessons that will be needed in order for a given individual to earn their Probationary License is difficult to predict, because it’s affected by so many variables.

The most important is prior experience. Experienced drivers from other countries who are seeking an Australian license usually require far fewer lessons than beginners. It may only take two to four lessons for them to learn what they need to know. However, that is not always the case. Experienced drivers have deeply held habits that may not match the driving style that’s required the pass the exam. Although they may be safe and competent drivers, the process of unlearning their existing driving style and adopting a new one can be very difficult.

Beginners also vary considerably in the time it takes them to get up to speed. Some learn in as few as 10 or 15 lessons, but many require 20 or more. The most important thing to remember is that the time it takes you to prepare for the practical driving test does not in any way reflect on the ultimate quality of your driving. It’s usually the overconfident new drivers who find themselves in trouble.

How will I get to the driving school and back?

In choosing a driving school, transportation to and from your driving lessons will be one thing that you need to take into consideration. If you’re lucky, maybe a friend or relative can drop you off and pick you up. However, most people aren’t lucky enough to have someone with an open schedule available to help out.

Some driving schools and driving instructors, for an extra charge or even for free within a limited area, will pick you up and drop you off at home.  This is one reason why, in your search for a driving school or driving instructor, it’s best to start close to home. If you have access to public transport, then you may want to look for driving schools on public transport routes.  If you have driving schools within walking or biking distance, then those may be the first ones you’ll want to consider. If there’s an extra charge incurred for pick up and drop off, then that’s something that you’ll need to include when you calculate your budget.

Of course, transportation is just one consideration in choosing a driving school. A lower cost of transportation will not make up for poor quality instruction, which could lead to more lessons or the need to retake the test.

Driving lessons are necessary to pass today’s challenging driving test

In the past, most young people were taught to drive by family members, and perhaps took group lessons as well. This gave them a high enough level of skill and knowledge to pass the practical driving test. However, many of the rules have changed since then, the test has become stricter, and with the new graduated system, it’s more difficult and onerous to earn a full driver’s license.

For most young drivers, parents and other family members help out with the 120 hours of documented, accompanied driving experience that’s needed in order to earn a probationary license. However, lessons with a professional driving instructor are usually required in order for young people learn and fully internalise the specific habits that are needed to pass the test.

Many of these practices, for example in the use of mirrors, direct observation, gap size selection, following distance, and the timing of signals, may differ from common practice and from what was taught in past decades. The testers do track these details very closely, and people taking the test can fail if they do  not perform the tasks they’re asked to correctly, according to currently approved practices. Don’t take chances. Make sure that you’ve learned to do things right way for the test.

How do driving school instructors earn their qualifications?

When you’re looking for a Victoria, Australia driving instructor, look for someone who has been granted up-to-date Driving Instructor Authority (DIA) from the Victorian Taxi Directorate. Potential driving instructors must hold a full Victoria driver’s licence, obtain a medical certificate, have a clean driving record, and pass a police check. Driving instructors who plan to work with students under 18 years of age must also pass a Working with Children Check.

Victoria driving instructors go through a rigorous process of training. They need to successfully complete the  “Certificate IV in Transport and Logistics Road Transport (Car Driving Instruction)” course, which was designed by the Victoria government, but is delivered by partner organisations. The course includes 360 hours of course work including:

  • 60 hours on safe driving behaviours
  • 60 hours on developing safe driving behaviours in others
  • 60 hours of workplace orientation
  • 40 hours on instruction and demonstration of skills
  • 40 hours on designing and developing learning programs
  • 35 hours on delivering and monitoring service to customers
  • 30 hours on maintaining business records
  • 20 hours on following Occupational Health and Safety procedures
  • 20 hours on working in a socially diverse environment
  • 15 hours on how to facilitate individual learning
  • 10 hours on completing routine administrative tasks

How old should I be when I start driving lessons?

In Victoria, Australia, you must be 16 in order to receive your learner’s permit, which will be issued to you after you pass the theory test. Normally, people learn what they need to pass it by studying the handbook from VicRoads, “Road to Solo Driving.” Taking and passing the theory test before your sixteenth birthday will get things started as quickly as possible.

While you’re a learner, you must always have a fully licensed driver in the car with you, and you must display “L” plates. In order to be eligible for your P1 licence, you must log 120 hours of practice with experienced drivers, pass the practical driving test, and be 18 years of age.

Since you cannot be issued your P1 plates until you’re 18 years old, you have two years to practice, take lessons, and take the practical driving test. However, starting lessons at 16 is the best course of action for most people. It’s important to establish the driving habits that will help you pass the practical test right away. Letting family members and friends teach you the basics might start you off with bad habits that you’ll need to unlearn later.

Call Hi-Way Driving School on 9467 5999 if you have any questions in relation to starting driving lessons.

How to choose the best driving school for you

In choosing a driving school, there are a number of steps that you can take to find the best fit. You’ll want to engage the best quality instructor you can afford, somebody who’s skilled, experienced, and a good match to your learning style. You will need to consider transportation issues, that is, how you will get to your lessons and back.

The first thing you should do is define your needs. Think about your past history and about who you feel comfortable with as an instructor. Do you prefer someone who is strict, no nonsense and directly critical, or would you prefer an instructor who takes a more positive approach? If you think that nerves are going to be an issue for you, then you may do better with someone who has a more relaxed, positive style. Do you have a preference when it comes to gender?

Ask your friends, teachers, colleagues, and neighbours who they’d recommend. If you have a strict budget, then you may need to work within that. Don’t forget the costs that may be associated with getting to the lessons and back. However, don’t rank cost above all else. Sometimes the cheapest cost per hour translates to the greatest number of lessons required and the most stressful experience.

Call Hi-Way Driving School on 9467 5999 – we have a range of driving instructors to suit all personalities!

How much should I expect to pay for driving lessons and a license?

In Victoria, Australia, the cost of earning a full driver’s license includes the fees associated with:

  1. Studying for and passing the theory exam
  2. Acquiring a learner’s permit
  3. Taking driving lessons
  4. Acquiring a red P1 Probationary license
  5. Acquiring a green P2 Probationary license
  6. Acquiring a full drivers license

Insurance costs for young and inexperienced drivers can also be counted as part of the cost.

The government fees for the tests and licenses are not guaranteed to stay the same, but it’s safe to say that they could easily fall into the $300-$500 range. Driving lessons are the most variable cost. The price per hour for lessons and the number of lessons a student will require before being ready to take the practical test varies considerably. The price of driver’s lessons will range from several hundred to several thousand dollars, depending upon how many lessons are required and on the cost per hour. If a driving instructor is used a referee for the required 120 hours of driving experience, then the cost will be much higher.

Helping a teenager earn their full driver’s license will likely cost at least $1000 total, and it could easily amount to twice that. It’s good to be prepared for that very significant cost.

What Happens During Your Driver’s Test

For most new drivers, the practical driving test is the most difficult part of the licensing process.  Not everyone passes it on the first attempt.  However, if you’re well prepared, you’ll be relaxed, confident and ready to meet the challenge.

Plan to arrive at your test site at least fifteen minutes before your appointment, after a good night’s sleep.  If your test is later in the day, try to keep things normal and relaxed up until that point.  It’s a good idea to drive to the testing centre yourself in order to get comfortable behind the wheel.  You’ll be tested in the car that you bring.

When you arrive at the test centre, you’ll need to show your learner’s permit.  If you don’t have it, then you’ll be required to show your birth certificate or passport and a second piece of ID.  The ID you use needs to confirm your address and your signature; each must be on at least one piece of identification.

The practical driving test is divided into three sections.  First, you’ll be asked some questions about how to operate the car.  For example, the tester may ask you to work the turn signals, the horn, the headlights, the hazard lights, and the de-mister.  You may need to demonstrate that the hand brake and brake lights are fully functional.

Next, you’ll perform the first, shorter part of the road test.  It usually takes around ten minutes.  The tester will run you through some basic manoeuvres to confirm that your driving is minimally safe and competent.  Instructions will be clear and specific.  You’ll be asked to start the car and turn left and right at intersections.  You may also need to change lanes, reverse park, or do a three-point turn.  If you pass, you’ll move on to the second part of the road test.  If you fail, then you’ll need to reregister and take the test again.

In the final part of the practical test, you’ll drive on larger, busier roads.  You may be asked to make decisions and execute more advanced manoeuvres.  For example, you may have to merge onto a busy road and drive on roads that are more technically difficult, with curves and hills.  The second part of the road test takes approximately 20 minutes.

Once you’ve completed the test, the tester will give you feedback.  If you’re failed, then the feedback will help you prepare for your next attempt.  If you’ve passed, then it’s still important to listen to the feedback.  It will help make you aware of issues that can help you continue to improve your driving.

Understanding Your Supervised Driving Requirements

Once you’ve passed your written test, had your eyesight tested, filled out your learner permit application, and finally received the permit, then you’ll be ready to slap those ‘L’s on the front and rear of your car and begin to drive. You’ll be eligible to take your practical driving test in twelve months if you’re under 21 (less if you’re older) and you’ll want to be ready.

Of course, as a learner, you’ll always be required to have an experienced driver sitting next to you while you practice your driving.  You’ll be subject to a few other restrictions as well: you need to have a zero blood alcohol level, you must carry your learner permit with you while you drive, you can’t use any kind of phone or messaging device while driving, and you can’t drive with a trailer.

The most onerous requirement is this: if you’re under 21, you must have 120 hours of documented, supervised driving experience before you’re considered qualified to take the practical driving test.  Ten of those hours must be after dark.  All of your practice hours need to be recorded in an official Learner Log Book, and each entry must be signed by you and by the licensed driver who’s with you.  This requirement can only be waived if you can prove to Vicroads that it would impose undue hardship on you or your family.

If you haven’t already, then you may want to talk to a qualified driving instructor once you receive your learners permit.  If you’re under 21, then this is the right time to plan your driver’s experience requirement, and it’s a good idea to make a driving instructor part of that plan.  A qualified instructor is a trained teacher and has the skills and the patience to make you into a competent and confident driver.  Additionally, you will need a qualified instructor to help you prepare for the new, more stringent practical test.  A basic level of driving competence is no longer enough to pass it.  Now, you also need to learn to perform checks and manoeuvres in a precise, preferred style that a friend or family member may not be able to teach you.

Your experienced drivers – the people who supervise your driving experience – must hold current, full Victoria driver’s licenses or current interstate or overseas licenses.  Experienced drivers are restricted to a .05% blood alcohol level (0% if they’re an authorised instructor), and they cannot consume an alcoholic beverage while supervising.  They must also complete the  ‘List for Supervising Drivers’ and ‘Declaration of Completion’ in your log book.  Most young drivers will complete some of their driving experience with a qualified instructor as the supervisor, and some with one or more older friends or family members.

Once you’ve completed your driving experience and feel confident about your ability to perform all the standard manoeuvres and to drive in the correct style, you’ll be ready to take the practical driving test.

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