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How your driving is assessed


You will be assessed on how safely and efficiently you perform when following instructions.  Points are awarded for good performance of the driving tasks you are asked to do.  The number of points you earn will help determine if you pass the test. Points from the first and second parts of the Drive Test are combined to calculate your total test score.  The licence testing officer will be assessing you on:

Observation
Safe drivers are aware of other road users and road conditions at all times while driving. You should look ahead of your car and use head checks and your mirrors to maintain a high level of awareness around your car – especially when turning at intersections, changing lanes and entering or leaving the flow of traffic.

There are no specific rules about how often you should look around or use your mirrors – it depends on how much traffic is around you and what you are doing at the time.

  • when you are driving along with other traffic, you should check your mirrors and look at other traffic often enough so that you always know what is behind you, next to you, and in front. You should also look far enough ahead so you can see what is happening well ahead of you.
  • when you are about to turn at an intersection you should check in your mirrors so you know if anything is behind you.
  • when you are turning at an intersection, you need to know what is happening around you and you need to make sure that you look in the direction you are heading.
  • when you are about to change lanes or merge with other traffic, you need to use your mirrors and do a head check to make sure the lane you are about to join is clear of other vehicles.
  • you need to keep a constant lookout for potential hazards like pedestrians, bicyclists, and other unexpected problems.  If you detect potential hazards, you should slow down and take care.

The licence testing officer will be watching and assessing your observational skills.  You will earn points if you show that you are observing other traffic, other road users, and if you drive carefully in the presence of potential hazards.
Signal use
Safe drivers communicate their intentions to other road users by using the vehicle’s indicators or signals.

  • you need to signal whenever you are turning, changing lanes, merging with other cars, or leaving or entering traffic from the kerb.
  • you should use your indicators early enough to communicate your intentions clearly and give other drivers time to adjust their driving.
  • you should not indicate so early that there is a risk that your signal use will be misunderstood or misinterpreted.

You must signal for long enough – at least three seconds – to warn other drivers and road users before turning or changing lanes and for at least five seconds if you’re pulling out from the kerb. Use of the vehicle’s indicators for at least three seconds will be required in most situations with few exceptions.

An example where there may be insufficient time to signal for at least three seconds, is on short road merges.

Another example when signalling for at least three seconds will cause confusion (and potentially an unsafe situation) is where a vehicle is planning to exit from a driveway which is positioned close to an intersection at which you are required to turn. Signalling before the driveway, when the other vehicle is planning to exit the driveway, could create an unsafe situation.
Gap selection
When moving into the traffic flow, safe drivers carefully observe the traffic and then choose safe gaps so other drivers don’t have to take action to avoid a crash.

They also carefully observe the traffic and then choose the first safe gap to enter and don’t cause unnecessary delays to other road users.

It is not possible to have specific rules about what a safe gap looks like. It will depend on the amount of traffic, the type of road you are entering, the speed of other traffic, and other factors like the weather and light conditions at the time and how far you can see along the road.

Your ability to choose safe gaps will improve with experience on different types of roads and in different weather conditions. When in doubt – both in your test and in day-to-day driving – it is best to wait for the next gap.

You must show you can carefully observe the traffic and then choose the first safe gap when moving into traffic from an intersection, when merging, or when moving from the kerb.
The licence testing officer will assess your gap selection ability at intersections and when pulling into traffic and changing lanes.
Speed choice
Speed choice is a key issue for safe driving. Australian research shows that exceeding the speed limit by as little as 5 km/h increases your crash risk. This is why the licence testing officer will be watching your speed choice during the test.

  • safe drivers don’t exceed the speed limit.  If you do this during the test you will be penalised, and you may fail the test as a result.
  • the speed limit is the maximum speed you should travel at. If it’s safe, you should drive close to the speed limit so traffic moves efficiently. If you unnecessarily drive much slower than the speed limit for a substantial part of the test, the licence testing officer may penalise you.
  • you should continually monitor traffic and road conditions and adjust your speed if needed. In difficult light, weather or congested conditions, you may need to drive well below the speed limit to be safe.  Of course, if other traffic is driving well below the speed limit, it is best to fit in with the flow of traffic rather than driving at the maximum speed limit.

You must show you can drive within the speed limit at a safe and efficient speed for the conditions.
Following distance
Following other vehicles too closely is a significant cause of crashes.  Research shows that rear end crashes are especially a problem for younger drivers. This is why you will be penalised on your test if you drive too closely to vehicles that are in front of you.

  • safe drivers leave sufficient distance between their car and vehicles in front so there’s time to deal with unexpected events.
  • you must leave at least 2 seconds between you and any vehicle ahead – and longer in poor driving conditions. The licence testing officer will assess this during your drive.
  • you should use the same following distances when changing lanes and merging so you don’t end up too close to the vehicle in front.

Lateral position
You must show the licence testing officer that your car is always in a safe position in relation to the road lanes and traffic next to you.

  • you should make safe choices about the best lane to drive in. The licence testing officer will direct you around the test route by giving you instructions about where to drive. You will need to make safe choices depending on other traffic, what’s happening ahead of your car and what you’re planning to do next.
  • this will depend on the instructions from the licence testing officer, other traffic, what’s happening ahead of your car, and what you’re planning to do next.
  • you need to stay completely within the lane and not allow your car to move into another lane unless you are intending to change lanes and have indicated and looked for potential hazards.
  • while you are driving within a lane, you should not wander from side to side except where you need to keep a safe distance between your car and other road users, including parked cars.

During the test, you must show you can minimise your risk of colliding with other vehicles by choosing the correct lane and positioning your car safely within your lane.
Stop position
You will be penalised if you stop the car in an unsafe position at an intersection. When you’re required to stop – for example at Stop signs, traffic lights, and crossings – you must stop the car in the correct position. Safe drivers stop close to (but not over) the Stop line. This ensures the safety of other road users and gives the driver the best opportunity to detect potential hazards and to select a safe gap before moving off.
Parking
Most Drive Tests include a reverse parking task to assess your ability to control the car at slow speed.
If there is no opportunity to do a reverse parking task, you may be asked to do a three point turn.

Reverse Parking Task
The licence testing officer will tell you where to park – it will be behind another car, but there will be plenty of space. You should get some practice at reverse parking before the test. It is important because it shows how well you can combine different skills like controlling the car, looking for hazards, and making decisions quickly.

  • you must use your left indicator to let other driver know what you are doing.
  • you must show you can look for potential hazards behind the car. Parking can be dangerous if there are pedestrians or other vulnerable road users nearby, and you need to make sure there are no hazards behind you while you are reversing into the parking space. You also need to make sure it is safe to swing the front of the car out into the roadway before starting the parking manoeuvre.
  • you have to complete the parking task safely with the car stopped near the kerb and a safe distance from the vehicle in front.
  • you have to show that you can park the car efficiently. This means that you can get into the parking space smoothly and without having to continue making lots of forwards and backwards movements to get the car into the right position. You will be penalised if you take too long or if you make too many movements getting into the space.
  • you also need to move off again safely by signalling correctly and selecting a safe gap.  This means you will need to use your mirrors and use head checks to select the right time to move off.  Remember you must signal for at least 5 seconds.


Three Point Turn

You may be asked to do a three-point turn if it is not possible to find a safe location to reverse park the car.  You are allowed to stop the car on the left of the road before making the turn. You can use a driveway on the right side of the road when you make your turn.

  • you must use your indicators correctly during the three point turn to let other drivers know what you are doing. If you stop on the left of the road before starting the turn, make sure you use your left indicator, and then use your right indicator at least 5 seconds before starting the turn.
  • you must position your car correctly and safely. If you stop first, you should stop close to the left kerb. You should not hit the kerb when making the turn, and you should ensure that you are on the correct side of the road as you complete the three-point turn.
  • when you reverse from the right side of the road or the driveway, you must show that you are aware of any potential hazards behind or around your car.  Reversing can be dangerous if you do not keep checking for hazards.

Control
Your ability to drive smoothly will be assessed by the licence testing officer because smooth driving is a sign that you have had a lot of driving experience. Safe drivers are in full control of the vehicle at all times. To show that you are in control and driving smoothly, you must:

  • accelerate and brake smoothly
  • keep the engine running
  • use the clutch and gears smoothly (if you’re driving a manual).

If you don’t do these things you will not get any points.

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