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Rob Duncan's Blog

Learner Driver Log Book

120 hours practice reduces the chances of a young driver crashing

The introduction in Queensland of the requirement for a Learner Driver to accumulate 100 hours on a log book prior to being able to ‘sit’ for their licence is based on international, national, and state research. It isn’t based on what is a good idea for our kids, or revenue gaining, or even an attempt to deflect money from driving schools – all of which I have heard many variations of.

Research clearly shows that 120 hours practice can substantially reduce the chances of a young driver crashing. You will note the 120 hours here, not 100, or ‘extra’ hours for professional driving instruction. 120 hours. I should highlight here that it is 120 hours on normal public roads.

The important thing to remember is that this time is best used as practice – getting used to scanning and looking ahead, looking for potential crash producing scenarios, getting used to driving, getting to some level of intuitive driving so that brain functions can be used elsewhere in driving (remember young drivers can’t multi-task or identify risk as easily as over 25s – all covered in BRAKE for young people and parents). It is also for gaining the correct subconcscious driving behaviour level – a young driver will drive with the appropriate behaviour at these times, so let’s ‘cement’ it in. Let’s make that the base line so that sub-conscious driving becomes the norm and they will have to consciously over-ride it.

Of course, young drivers need a certain amount of techical knowledge and correctness, researchers agree with and highlight that. How you as a parent do that is up to you – but are you a technically competent driver?

Research also shows that the more interaction that parents have with their children pre-driving, whilst learning driving and their first 6 months of licenced driving can substantially reduce the chances of crashing again.

So the actual preferred model for the log-book is the parent accompanying the young driver. As a parent you are showing interest and sharing this experience, you are talking about Behaviours, Risks and the Attitudes required as well as providing Knowledge and Education (BRAKE).

You are there as the extra set of eyes to point out risks. You are there to highlight that some drivers make mistakes and that your child should look for these to avoid crashing. Why do you need to do this – because many young drivers have a firm belief that people will obey the laws and are not looking for those that don’t, or make mistakes. Research supports this.

Whilst it is some time out of your busy schedules – and we understand that – please remember that your young drivers are still only kids, they still need your help. Arguably this is one of the most important functions that you can do for your child – you are actively reducing their chances of crashing.

As parents we probably take our children to school, sport, activities, parties and many other things when they are young – we can’t let them down when they need us the most. At the end of the day is 120 hours over 12 months really an impost when you are giving so very much more than just time to your child?

BRAKE highlights that parents are just as important in keeping young drivers safe as the young driver themselves.

We at BRAKE offer parents courses to those schools facilitating BRAKE where it is requested because there is far more that we as parents can do over and beyond 120 hours.

Remember, BRAKE highlights 120 hours as a minumum – more is even better.

The final one – does it make a difference if parents cheat on the log books? Well, if you have read the above you will know the answer and I cannot stress enough how parents who do this are perhaps not quite understanding what they are potentially creating. I do not believe that parents who do this know that they are placing their young driver at a higher risk of crashing.