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Parents and supervisors

Learner's permit

Learner drivers in South Australia will need to get at least 75 hours of supervised driving experience, including 15 hours at night, over 12 months, to apply for a provisional licence. This gives them a chance to develop safe driving skills gradually.

Graduated Licensing Scheme

South Australia has a Graduated Licensing Scheme that aims to help:

  • Prepare new driving for the demands of solo driving through extended learning
  • Protect provisional drivers by keeping them out of high risk driving situations
  • Motivate provisional drivers to adopt safe driving practices and to drive within the law.

You can find more information at Graduated Licensing Scheme.

Being a Qualified Supervising Driver

Remember you must comply with the following rules:

  • You must be seated immediately next to the learner driver.
  • You must not have a BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) of 0.05 or more.
  • You must have held an unconditional full licence for the preceding two years (not a learner's permit, P1 or P2).
  • You must not have been disqualified in the last two years.
  • You must not be subject to good behaviour conditions.*

* A person who has previously been subject to a Good Behaviour Condition within the past two years can act as a Qualified Supervising Driver if they held a full licence during that time, as long as they are not currently subject to that condition.

Helping your learner

Many learners have difficulty grasping some important safety concepts. It might help to talk with them about the following dangers:

  • Anticipating hazards.
  • Driving when tired.
  • Driving when emotional, stressed or upset.
  • Distractions such as passengers, radio noise, looking at maps or using a mobile phone while driving.
  • Speeding due to overconfidence.
  • Following other vehicles too closely.
  • Moving into small gaps in traffic.

Remind your learner that some of these dangers are not just hazardous, but also illegal. Penalties apply for using a mobile phone while driving, speeding and tailgating.

Your changing role

You'll be in complete control of every practice session. You'll have to give lots of advice and clear instructions and be the main set of eyes looking out for potential hazards.

The Driving Companion

Work with your learner, using the to reach all the goals in each stage before moving to the next. Use the Competency Based Training tasks as a guide to practice sessions. The Driving Companion is given to all new learner drivers and can be read online .

The training is designed to cover all aspects of good driving behaviour and the development of good driving attitudes. It includes basic driving procedures, manoeuvring your vehicle, basic road skills and safe driving strategies, like keeping at least 3 seconds between your vehicle and the vehicle in front and increasing the distance in bad weather conditions.

Key for success

Look at dividing the learner period into four stages.

Stage 1 is about controlling the car. It's the shortest stage and aims to your learner to start, stop and steer safely in quiet areas without traffic.

Stage 2 is about applying new car control skills and looking out for other road users on quiet low speed roads with little traffic.

Stage 3 takes longer and uses the Stage 1 and Stage 2 skills on busier roads and in more difficult driving situations. Now the learner starts becoming a real driver. They learn to deal with traffic and other hazards to become safer in varied driving situations.

Stage 4 takes a long time and can be the longest stage. It involves the learner practising to be a solo driver. They still have L plates on the car and a supervising driver beside them, but they'll learn to make most of the driving decisions on their own. The aim is to build up lots of different experiences where they act like a solo driver.

Your changing role

At the beginning of this stage, you're still in control. You will gradually move from less complex to more complex driving situations.
You'll start on low speed roads and gradually build up to higher speed roads.
Your learner will be working hard to detect potential hazards and handling busy traffic.
You'll give advice, help with route choices and talk about potential hazards your learner may have missed.
Your learner will begin to take control after they have gained experience in complex driving situations.

Videos worth watching with your learner

Practice practice practice

More hours mean more experience, and more experience leads to less crashes, not to mention some drivers are simply ready to drive solo before others.

Tips for the first lesson

  • Beforehand read the Driving Companion - it's an excellent teaching manual.
  • Stay calm and give plenty of encouragement.
  • Choose a time of day when neither parties are tired, stressed or rushed.
  • Avoid going out in extreme conditions like rain, poor visibility or when it's really hot - although you'll need to tackle these at some point, the first lesson is not the time.

Checklist for the first lesson

  • Find a quiet suburb, shopping centre car park or street with little traffic so the learner can turn left and right without navigating roundabouts, main roads and traffic lights.
  • Make sure the learner fits L-plates so they are clearly displayed at the front and rear - without obstructing the learner's or supervisor's view.
  • Show the Learner how to set up the vehicle so they're comfortable in their seat, with good posture.
  • Is the car manual or an automatic? Discuss the difference with the learner.
  • Show the learner how to centre all mirrors for maximum view - being able to see some of your vehicle will give you a better perception of other vehicles. Then during the first lesson teach them to check these mirrors for traffic before indicating or braking.
  • Identify and explain the controls. The learner needs to know where everything is such as windscreen wipers, headlights, indicators, etc.
  • Explain and locate the brake and accelerator and discuss the sensitivity of both - point out they should always brake early and gently.
  • Show the learner how to go through the start up drill by checking that the handbrake is firmly on and the gear is in neutral or park, then switch on the ignition, check all gauges and warning lights, start engine, and after they've indicated, checked mirrors and the path is clear have them apply appropriate power and move off.
  • Practise driving in a straight line. Most learners will grip the steering wheel tightly as they tense up - remind them to relax their grip when they're driving in a straight line - they only need to tighten it when braking or turning the corner. On straight roads, your hands should settle into an effective position on the steering wheel at 10 to 2.
  • Practise the basics of turning left and right properly - check mirrors, indicate, give way, determine whether there is a safe gap in traffic, and then gently turn the corner.
  • Ask the learner to select a suitable stopping position on the road - look out for stop lines, positioning for view, proximity to other vehicles.
  • Finally the learner can park the vehicle, correctly securing it to avoid it rolling.

    Keep the lesson short - around 30 minutes - and make sure you enter that time in the log book within The Driving Companion.

    Now you're ready to tackle lesson two.

What are the differences between a Professional Driving Instructor and a Supervising Driver?

A Professional Driving Instructor holds a motor driving instructor licence and will charge you a fee for their services. They're trained, assessed and if Accredited or Authorised, are regularly re-assessed.

A Supervising Driver can be anyone, including a relative or friend, who has held a full driver's licence for 2 years continuously.

Finding a professional driving instructor

  • Go to the website for the Australian Driver Training Association of SA and the Professional Driver Training Association of SA and follow the prompts to select an instructor in your neighbourhood.
  • Look up the Yellow Pages under the heading "Driving Schools"
  • Word of mouth or other recommendations from parents or learners on a good driving school is often a good place to start.
  • You and your learner are entitled to a free session with a professional instructor under the keys2drive program. Go to for more information.

Some things to ask an instructor before you commit to a lesson

  • How much do you charge per lesson and will you give a receipt?
  • How long is each lesson?
  • What type of vehicle do you teach in? Is it manual or automatic?
  • Are you Accredited to teach Competency Based Training & Assessment (CBT&A) (refer to the Driving Companion). What is the average number of lessons required to pass using the CBT&A system?
  • Are you Authorised to conduct a Vehicle on Road Test (VORT) or be able to train for the VORT (refer to the Driving Companion)
  • Are you able to conduct lessons that start at home and finish at school and vice versa?
  • How frequently do you recommend having lessons?
  • Do you have a refund policy for cancellation of lessons?
  • What type of practice should be conducted between lessons and would you advise what needs practising after each lesson?

Many driving instructors are prepared to teach a specific driving skill such as angle parking or a 3-point-turn manoeuvre and then ask the learner to practise with their Supervising Driver until competent. This learning style can ultimately reduce the number of professional lessons.

If you are unhappy with a driving instructor, you can change instructors at any time. If learning by the Competency Based Training & Assessment (CBT&A) method, any new instructor will be required to first check that the learner can perform all of the tasks signed off by the previous instructor and then they will continue with the CBT&A method.

One tip to remember is that your learner driver needs a minimum of 75 hours (including 15 hours at night) of supervised driving experience in order to get their P-plates, however the more hours, the more driving experience and the less likely your young driver will be involved in a crash!

So remember, the more practice, the safer your young driver will be!

New drivers spend a lot of time and attention on the physical skills required for driving (e.g. braking and steering). Being able to do these things without always thinking about them takes time to develop. As does being able to judge safe gaps in traffic and looking out for hazards. So, expect your learner to take a long time to put together all the skills required for safe driving. That's why a learner's permit is valid for 2 years.

Here are some things to think about before you head out:

  • Use the Driving Companion "yellow tab" (Competency Based Training & Assessment) for technical information and driving tips.
  • Are you in the right frame of mind? It's best to avoid a session of supervising if you are not, calm, positive and in a supportive frame of mind or mentally ready
  • What frame of mind is the learner in? Do they have other demands such as homework or sports that may cause them to lose concentration?
  • Encourage safe attitudes and safe behaviours, making sure your own driving reflects the good points you are teaching the learner.
  • Turn all mobile phones off.
  • Help the learner get plenty of driving experience in a range of driving conditions, for example, rain, sunny day, night and busy roads.
  • Supervise don't criticise - give positive praise and further opportunities to practice the skills they found difficult.
  • Record the hours of driving in the Log Book - the more hours the better!
  • Make sure you allow plenty of time so you and the learner do not feel rushed.
  • Demonstrate anger management skills by not becoming upset with other road users as this will set a bad example to the learner. Observing other road users' actions will emphasise the reasons for good driving behaviour. Be supportive, patient and positive.

Keep it quiet

Begin your supervision sessions in quiet local streets or large car parks, before gradually progressing to busier roads. Try to limit distractions such as car radios, and other passengers, especially in the early lessons. As your learner becomes more confident in new situations, reduce the amount of instruction.

As an example, if the learner is gaining confidence at turning right at traffic lights, make no comment until after the turn and compliment them on exactly what was done well. This type of approach will certainly encourage confidence.

Judging Safe Gaps in Traffic and Turning Right

Learning to select a safe gap is not an easy task. When turning right, novice drivers usually will not attempt to use a gap on the right of less than 15 or so seconds, so count the number of seconds between vehicles as this helps to understand gap sizes.

If you are preparing to turn right onto a busy road then ask your learner if they would cross the road as a pedestrian within the approaching gap. Generally if the answer is yes you have shown them a better understanding of gap selection, with the vehicle being driven moving faster than a pedestrian.

As a guide when turning right, the turn should be completed while still allowing sufficient space from vehicles approaching from the right (e.g. 3-5 second gap). This is referred to as the "crash avoidance space" around your vehicle.

Do not over extend the learner's experience by placing then in heavy traffic or high risk situations too soon. This type of experience should only occur when they have gained confidence with their own driving ability.

Have a plan of where to go and what to practice

Find out what your learner thinks they need to practice. If the learner has had any professional driving lessons it would be beneficial for the learner to practice what was taught in the last lesson to reinforce understanding. Practise using the Driving Companion or what they have learned in their last lesson.

If you are driving to or from school, turn some of this time into practising things previously learnt, such as a three point turn or an angle park in a different location to the usual practice spot.

Make sure they get practice on all types of roads (suburban, highway, and country) and in all kinds of weather and driving conditions (at night, weekends, rush hour, short and long trips).

As a supervising driver, consider if you would allow them have the keys to your car unsupervised when they have their provisional licence. Now is the time to practice and instil good driving habits for a lifetime.

Your changing role
You're still in control. Your learner will be working on detecting potential hazards, but you'll still give advice, point out potential problems and give clear instructions. Your learner will need to drive safely. This means they need to choose the right speed, use mirrors and head checks, notice and avoid potential hazards and keep safe distances from other vehicles. It also means driving in a way that makes the supervising driver (or any passengers) feel relaxed.

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