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Learners on the Highway

By Blingerific 6 April 2010 40

Having done a roadtrip to Newcastle over Easter I was left wondering as to how wise it really is letting Learner drivers on the Highways and Freeways in such a busy time. I know they need the experience but there were a few dozen of them out there and while they were plodding along at their required 80km/h it created all sorts of havoc.

This was particularly true as the traffic became more dense, chaotic, confused and self absorbed as you got within about 100 km of Sid-ah-knee.

So what do you think, is it wise to have Learners on the Highway/Freeway at such busy times? I had more than a few close shaves as someone dived into the right hand lane after discovering tailgating the Learner didn’t make them go faster (credit to the learner, headbutt for the tailgater) and then sat on less than 110 for ages, refusing to get back into the left hand lane so faster cars could pass.

I also wonder what ever happened to keep left unless over taking?

What’s Your opinion?


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Learners on the Highway
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the boy 8:56 pm 03 Oct 10

Special speed limit for learner drivers and riders

In NSW, visiting learner drivers and riders are restricted to a maximum speed limit of 80 km/h. This means that even if you are entitled to drive at the posted speed limit in your home State or Territory, when driving in NSW you must not travel at more than 80 km/h and must observe the speed limit when it is below 80 km/h.

Heavy penalties apply to drivers exceeding the speed limits. This can include the Police immediately suspending at the roadside, your right to drive in New South Wales.

http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/rulesregulations/internationalinterstate/driving.html

Katietonia 3:03 pm 13 Apr 10

Blingerific said :

Katietonia

How are they meant to learn to drive on highways during high traffic times, if they aren’t allowed because it might inconvenience you slightly?

By having a tiered system that allows them to be part of the traffic, not an obstruction to it. I have no disagreement to the requirement for them to get highway experience (I had my full licence before I did over 100km/h because there was no need for me to do it) but in peak times, when there are a lot of people out there who quite frankly don’t deserve a licence, their presence is a danger to other drivers and ultimately themselves.

For the many who have missed the point; I am not blaming the learners because yes they need the experience, but I saw what was happening and I can see significant danger in it and think there is a better way to skin the proverbial cat.

The highway is dangerous enough around long weekends and with the current system any period of double demerit points is doubly dangerous to experienced drivers and even more so for the inexperienced.

The highway is probably more dangerous due to the impatient full license holders tailgating them and speeding themselves.

johnny_the_knife 9:21 am 09 Apr 10

There are several issues at work here:

1. The need for learner drivers to access sufficiant, quality training to become competent provisional license holders

2. The need for licensed drivers in all categories to operate within the law and in a manner that is considerate towards the needs of all road users.

But, why limit learner drivers to 80KM/h? I can only assume it’s because a similar limitation will be imposed when they obtain their P plates. This raises a new issue. In NSW at least, a learner driver is required to complete 120 hours of training prior to obtaining their provisional licence. Now, as a training professional (not a driver trainer), I look at this situation and ask a couple of questions. Driving is a relatively simple skill which most humans are capable of developing, so why is it that after 120 hours of training, we don’t consider a driver to have reached a sufficient standard of competence that they can drive at the speed limit? I can think of the following reasons.

a. 120 hours just isn’t enough (unlikely)
b. The 120 hours isn’t being completed and the records are being falsified (we know this happens in some cases, as reported in the media)
c. The quality of the instruction provided isn’t good enough

How about our government focus on resolving the issues around quality training instead of knee jerk reactions to the tragic number of road deaths in younger drivers, and then scrap this whole nonsense around limiting speeds for provisional and learner licence holders. Having four groups of people (Learner, P1, P2 and full license) driving to different rules on the same pavement is just a recipe for trouble.

Thoroughly Smashed 8:01 pm 08 Apr 10

Blingerific said :

Ah yes that old chestnut. I do believe it is because they’re brainless idiots or similar. They certainly were another feature over the long weekend.

I was about to suggest that it’s because they’re dickheads, but that violates Hanlon’s Razor so I suppose idiots will have to suffice.

Blingerific 6:34 pm 08 Apr 10

Dome
I also do a lot of highway driving – using cruise control set at 112 kph (per GPS). Why do cars I pass speed up to pass me and then slow down again? I’m not changing my speed – why do they have to just to pass me. And I pass them again in cruise control.

Ah yes that old chestnut. I do believe it is because they’re brainless idiots or similar. They certainly were another feature over the long weekend.

These supposed ‘drivers’ are the reason I normally head for the hills (or stay at work) over these times. So much better taking holidays when school is not out 🙂

Dome 3:28 pm 08 Apr 10

Coach said :

But this would be a good opportunity to get on my favourite traffic soap box. I do a lot of highway driving, and it never ceases to amaze me how many people choose to sit on 90km (their right and I have no issue with that) until they get to a 2 lane overtaking section, and speed up to 110, 115 or 120. As soon as the merge sign appears, they go back to 90.”

I also do a lot of highway driving – using cruise control set at 112 kph (per GPS). Why do cars I pass speed up to pass me and then slow down again? I’m not changing my speed – why do they have to just to pass me. And I pass them again in cruise control.

Anna Key 8:56 pm 07 Apr 10

Not bagging learners, we were all there at one point, and I currently have a learner to look after now. But surely it can be changed to allow them to do 100 on a highway, rather than 30 or more below the posted limit – I wouldn’t let him drive on the Hume during Easter.

Probably 95%+ are tolerant and understanding, but given the degree of dickheadery by some drivers (ie tailgating at 115kph and flashing headlights etc), surely it is more stressful for the learners than a trip through the burbs. It’s not a matter of inconvenience, but one of safety and common sense. I believe, and could be wrong, that L platers are not allowed on UK motorways due to the speed issue

Aeek 8:53 pm 07 Apr 10

Its only in NSW, why don’t the other states do it? Maybe, because its stupid?
How do you learn to drive with traffic if you aren’t allowed to keep up, let alone learning to merge.

Blingerific 5:02 pm 07 Apr 10

Katietonia

How are they meant to learn to drive on highways during high traffic times, if they aren’t allowed because it might inconvenience you slightly?

By having a tiered system that allows them to be part of the traffic, not an obstruction to it. I have no disagreement to the requirement for them to get highway experience (I had my full licence before I did over 100km/h because there was no need for me to do it) but in peak times, when there are a lot of people out there who quite frankly don’t deserve a licence, their presence is a danger to other drivers and ultimately themselves.

For the many who have missed the point; I am not blaming the learners because yes they need the experience, but I saw what was happening and I can see significant danger in it and think there is a better way to skin the proverbial cat.

The highway is dangerous enough around long weekends and with the current system any period of double demerit points is doubly dangerous to experienced drivers and even more so for the inexperienced.

PsydFX 4:33 pm 07 Apr 10

aronde said :

I might not be understanding the NSW rules but I was under the impression learners are limited to 80, then they get their provisional and can pilot the car by themselves (ie no supervision from a full licence holder) at faster speed? This is the bit I have issues with.

Someone above noted the NSW laws, but to recap (taken from Geared.com.au)
Learners License is for 12 months, and you can not exceed 80km/h
Provisional 1 License is for 18 months, and you can not exceed 90km/h (After 12 months you can perform a Hazard Perception Test, if you pass, you get your P2 License)
Provisional 2 License is for 24 months, and you can not exceed 100km/h
After holding you P2 License for 24 months, you do a Driver Qualification Test. If you pass you get your full license.

aronde 4:04 pm 07 Apr 10

PsydFX said :

Why, in your opinion, does a very inexperienced driver need to learn how to control a vehicle at that speed?

I might not be understanding the NSW rules but I was under the impression learners are limited to 80, then they get their provisional and can pilot the car by themselves (ie no supervision from a full licence holder) at faster speed? This is the bit I have issues with. I’d like to see a learner be supervised under all speed conditions before letting them loose by themselves. If the learner wants to voluntarily drive lower then the speed limit because they are a bit apprehensive then fine (in fact I’d probably encourage it!) but mandating lower speeds whilst they are being supervised seems counter productive to the ‘learning’ process.

And yes I love the German autobahns but I remember them having lots of lanes and all the trucks and buses that were limited hugged the slow lanes whilst all the BMWs flew past in the faster lanes! Basically they all knew how to drive properly on multi lane highways unlike here!

CoffinRX2 3:25 pm 07 Apr 10

I agree that they shouldnt be out on the highways over the holiday periods. For work I had to travel to sydney last thursday, leaving to head back to canberra at 4pm, … and then good friday out to griffith and back Sunday.

30kph under the limit is not only a bad thing for them, but totally stupid for the idiots out there who cannot learn to read traffic whatsoever! … in the 270k’s back from Canberram I saw no less that 10 times drivers that were unaware of what was in front of them (L plater) and either slammed on the brakes, or swerved into the other lane at the last minute (or both) it was ludicrous!!

PsydFX 3:01 pm 07 Apr 10

aronde said :

As for your second point how can inexperienced drivers get experience at highway speeds if they are not allowed to do it with a licensed driver sitting behind them? This rule just sounds like a political fix with little evidence behind it on how it makes things better.

Why, in your opinion, does a very inexperienced driver need to learn how to control a vehicle at that speed?

Personally, I would think that a learner driver is better off learning and demonstrating the fundamentals of vehicle control, observational skills specific to being a driver, and potential hazard assesment – all before travelling at 110km/h.

I believe that once you can demonstrate those fundamentals, you already have the necessary skills and experience to drive that extra 30km/h.

Just a little example: Countless times around Canberra I’ve seen learner drivers slightly veering off because they are doing things like checking their mirrors or blind spots, or even when they are trying to change gears. Now even at slow speeds ( <80km/h ) they are still coming fairly close to crossing lanes before they (or the parent) corrects the steering. If you put this same driver into a situation where they are travelling 110km/h, surely you could see how that extra 8 meters a second could spell disaster?

Katietonia 2:40 pm 07 Apr 10

How are they meant to learn to drive on highways during high traffic times, if they aren’t allowed because it might inconvenience you slightly? You were a learner once too. Having only just got my license (I am almost 30) I know the frustration and anxiety of being a learner driver and can’t believe you would even post this.

Sgt.Bungers 1:32 pm 07 Apr 10

Germany, a country with a lower road toll per capita and per billion vehicle km’s driven than Australia, limits trucks at 80km/h on their Autobahns. These are roads that typically have 120km/h speed limits, or 130km/h recommended speed limits. The Germans have no problem coping.

First of all, the 80km/h learner limit is absurd. My solution, a tiered learner licences scheme. Tier 1, the learner driver must have a fully licenced driver with them, and has max a limit of 80km/h. Tests are passed. Tier 2, the learner driver must have a fully licenced driver with them, and may travel at the posted speed limit. More tests, provisional licence granted with no special speed limit. This will give new drivers the chance to learn to overtake, and learn to drive at higher speeds with someone experienced in the car… rather than teach themselves as must be done at the moment in NSW.

That said, anyone seriously complaining about a vehicle moving at 80km/h in a 110km/h zone, should hand their licence in. 110km/h roads are typically dead straight… all drivers should be able to see when they’re catching up to a slower vehicle, well in advance. Anybody who doesn’t is either blind, or not scanning the road ahead properly.

aronde 12:12 pm 07 Apr 10

PsydFX said :

Ha! If experienced drivers are approaching blind corners or crests without caution, how is the learner drivers fault if a crash or close call occurs?

Hey I did not say it would be the learner drivers fault – I just said there was a possibility for crashes given the large speed differential between learners and everyone else quite often for the reasons you outline. In an ideal world maybe everyone would ‘drive to the conditions’ as you say but they don’t and forcing a number of drivers to go 30km/h below everyone else is just asking for trouble that does not have to be.

As for your second point how can inexperienced drivers get experience at highway speeds if they are not allowed to do it with a licensed driver sitting behind them? This rule just sounds like a political fix with little evidence behind it on how it makes things better.

PsydFX 11:41 am 07 Apr 10

aronde said :

How can driving 30km/h under the limit count as a ‘learning’ experience not to mention the possibility of crashes as traffic at 110 suddenly comes across 80km/h traffic over a hill or around a corner.

Ha! If experienced drivers are approaching blind corners or crests without caution, how is the learner drivers fault if a crash or close call occurs? Maybe if more experienced drivers actually drove to the conditions instead of adopting the stupid “cruise control: on, brain: off” mentality there wouldn’t be any of these crashed or close calls.

I just don’t understand how can we expect a very inexperienced driver to react accordingly to a hazard at 110km/h when experienced drivers barely can? The simple fact is, even if learner drivers were allowed to travel 110km/h, there will always be someone travelling under the speed limit, which in turn means that there will always be someone else doing something stupid to get around them.

deye 10:47 am 07 Apr 10

Mordd said :

Yes blame the learners, not the ACT government who came up with the stupid rule. Maybe its time for some national consistency on L/P plate laws now.

In the ACT learner’s can go the posted speed limit, it’s the NSW government that has the stupid 80 kph rule.

Deano 10:53 pm 06 Apr 10

Skip said :

It probably wouldn’t hurt to remember how we started off as learners and the opportunities we were given to gain experience on open roads.

And look how poorly that turned out.

cleo 10:49 pm 06 Apr 10

Oh it wasn’t that bad with the learners, went to Sydney and Newcastle, we just over took them.

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