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From the tender age of just 16, children in Australia can start learning to drive a motor vehicle.

It’s frightening – for the parents at least!

Year 10 Formal photo: “Sure, we’re all learning to drive!”

Learning to Drive - all of them!

But What Can You Do?

You hope your young teenager wont want to get behind the wheel until they are a bit older, but don’t count on it.

On their 16th birthday, most will sit the compulsory computer test and pass (oh yes, they’ll pass first time – they’ve been practicing online since they turned 15!).

They’ll be given ‘L’ plates and be nagging you the very same day to take them out driving.  What the….

Slow Down! Break! Now! Stop! Jesus!

What was it like for you?

My oldest son:

  • Thought it was his absolute right to drive at the speed limit, no matter the situation
  • He also saw no point slowing down behind stationary cars at traffic lights until the very last moment
  • Surprisingly he liked to ‘take on’ buses coming in the opposite direction and squeeze through small spaces

My youngest son (still on ‘L’s):

  • Did not initially understand the word ‘gradual’ as it related to pulling out into the next lane of traffic
  • He also used to go suddenly deaf when turning left. He didn’t appear to hear me pleading with him to ‘slow down more’ and as a result over-swung the corner – every time!
  • Thank God he’s now stopped turning the wheel when he looks over his shoulder!

Light at the end of the Tunnel

Eventually, and after some well-worth-the-money private driving lessons, your now 17 year old will sit his/her driving test, pass and get red ‘P’s’ (which means he/she can drive unaccompanied).

You know what’s coming…

“Can I take your car out Mum”

You reply:

  • Do you have to?
  • Should I come with you?
  • Will you be careful?
  • Keep to the speed limit
  • Don’t use your mobile phone
  • Keep both hands on the wheel
  • Put your seat belt on
  • Did I mention being careful?
  • Phone me when you get there

We now drive unaccompanied!

Learning to Drive - unaccompanied

A Few Months Down the Track…

Your questions are a bit different:

  • Have you put any petrol in the car?
  • What’s that scratch on the passenger side wheel arch?  Sorry Mum
  • What on earth has happened to my wheel hubs?  Sorry again Mum
  • For goodness sake, take the P’s off – I keep driving around with them on
  • Stop changing my radio channels
  • ..and turn the volume down – I get deafened every time I get in my car
  • Have you still not put any petrol in it?
  • You could at least wash it for me once in a while

But, as Time Goes By…

“Nip to the shop for some milk love”

“Can you pick your brother up from school today?”

“Any chance of a lift to and from the restaurant tonight?

“Take your Dad’s car if you like”

..and Then it Happens!

You’ll get a text message.

Mum, how do I open the petrol cap?

Raising Great Kids – who’d be without ‘em :)

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Jan Littlehales

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8 Responses to “Learning to Drive”

  1. Coming from Europe I still have to get used to this very different way of learning how to drive a car.
    I had to take driving lessons with an instructor (10 normal, 3 Autobahn, 4 long distance drive, 3 night drive as a minimum) and you are only allowed to drive a private car without a full license on private property or on specially designed training parcours.
    But I can relate to you worries as it reminded me of myself when I started learning to drive ;)

  2. Hi Renee,
    It’s very interesting to hear about your way of learning to drive – so different from here.
    I’m originally from the UK and the system there is different again.
    It would appear there is no ‘perfect’ way to learn to drive. Each country seems to be doing what it believes to be the best.

  3. Harry Lynn says:

    How different it is nowadays !
    When I was 9 in 1949 my cousin started my official on road driving lessons in a Ford Anglia – I look at my 9 year old grandson and can’t imagine him controlling a car. I’d been sitting on Dad’s knee since about 5 doing the steering so the clutch gearbox and brakes were my main challenges in the Anglia. Our holidays were spent on a friend’s farm and from 10 I drove the Ferguson [ Fergie ] tractor from the dairy to the milk pickup point a couple of miles away, and unloaded the milk cans, and then off to do a day of ploughing. Great education !
    One had to be 18 to get a licence in Victoria back them – our tests were done by the local police constable and even though we used to drive him to church each week he gave me a seriously thorough test. 9 years experience !

  4. Hi Harry,
    What a great story. I’d heard that driving tests used to be carried out by the police in Australia. I can’t remember that ever being the case in the UK. It changes all the time. No doubt by the time my boys have their own teenagers, it will have changed again!

  5. I can totally relate to this only I had to “push” my 16 yr old boy to get his learners. He wasn’t interested but I really wanted him to have his licence by the end of year 12 to give him more options when he left school. The 100 hours took 1 1/2 yrs to accumulate as he never wanted to drive. I am happy to say he got his licence 4 weeks after he finished yr 12 . (even though he turned 16 in Feb in grade 11)

  6. Hi Jackie,
    The hours have now been increased to 120! It can take a long time to accumulate that many hours.

  7. DanielS says:

    Hey all!
    I have yet to have to worry about my little one driving but that doesn’t mean I don’t think about it! This is totally true, thinking back to when I was learning how to drive. I am going on 25 but I can remember my mothers panic vividly, which now makes me laugh. I just can’t wait to see how my little man grows up, great topic.

  8. Thanks for dropping by and commenting DanielS,
    When my boys have children of their own and they start driving, I might just have to show them this article!

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