Launceston Driving School

The LDS Blog

The LDS Blog

view:  full / summary

'Learner Practical Test Removed To Streamline' - The Examiner, April 23, 2020

Posted on 23 April, 2020 at 2:15

The titile of this page was the title of an article in todays Examiner.  I had heard a whisper that the L2 PDA was probably getting canned, and this article below confirms it. I am guessing it will take effect when the Driving Assessors come back post-Covid 19.

' Learner Drivers on their L1s will not be required to take a practical test to receive their L2 licenses.  The state government made the changes to not disadvantage learner drivers looking to attain their P Plates, according to Infrastructure and Transport Minister Michael Ferguson.  "Importantly this will also reduce the need for Learners to visit Services Tasmania shopfronts.  It will also reduce the costs of obtaining a license," he said.

After three months on their L1s, a person can apply for thie L2s online.'

This will reduce the load on Service Tasmania's driver assessors, plus freeing up assessments for P Plates that were being used for L2s.  There was no mention of hours required, though I have heard another whisper that the 30 hours required for L2 will be added to the P1 requirement for 50 hours to make a total of 80 hours of logged, supervised driving.

Stay tunerd for further info!


Tony at LDS

Stuff For L1 Learners

Posted on 21 March, 2020 at 20:00

Edit - this post mentions L2 assessments, which as of April 23/2020, no longer apply.  There is now only one practical Driving Assessment, for Learners, for their P Plates.

Carry your license with you at all times when you are driving.

Only a person with a full current Australian driver's License (not provisional or overseas) who has not had any period of suspension or disqualification in the last 2 years, must be in the front passenger seat as your supervisory driver.

Do not drink ANY alcohol. You must have a zero blood alcohol reading as a learner driver.

L Plates must be clearly visible from the front and rear of the vehicle.

The L1 Maximum Speed Limit is 80kph.

Do not tow another vehicle or trailer.

As a Learner Driver you are permitted to drive at night and in wet conditions.

Animals are most active at dawn and dusk, so you must learn to scan the sides of the road and be prepared to act.  Do not stop suddenly, or swerve.

When approaching another vehicle at night, switch your headlights to LOW BEAM when at least 200m away. That includes coming up behind another vehicle.

As you get more hours, actively become more aware of your place in traffic and how you interact with other vehicles.

L1 drivers will need to perform at least 30 hours of supervised driving, the more the better!!

While it is not required for your L2 PDA, you should practise the logging exercise in the L1 Logbook which can be obtained at Services Tasmania in Charles Street, Launceston.

This is soooo important - the more supervised driving hours you get, the safer you will be when you start driving on your own.

When will I know I'm ready for my P1 PDA? (

Posted on 2 March, 2020 at 21:20

Straight up, the most important pointer as to your readiness is the amount of 'spare' attention you have available at any one time. 

At the start, your head was probably spinning with all the new information you were taking on board, and at the end of your first few lessons, you were totaaly bushed!  Just about every driver before you has been on that journey just as you are now.  Actually, you are probably getting it a little harder.

The number of P Platers dying on our roads within the first 6 months of solo driving has resulted in State Governments around Oz tightening up the whole license acheiving process in an effort to curb that horrifying statistic.  

When I went for my own MDL in 1975, there was no L1 or L2 system, and only one twelve-month P Plate to serve.  I went for a 15 minute drive with a copper, and just drove around the country town I lived in.  We did a few stop signs, give way signs, a hill-start and that was about it.  I was assessed in an old Falcon station wagon with 'three-on-the-tree' and rear-view mirrors on the fenders, but I passed. Wish I had that old XM Falcon now - it would be worth a bundle!  Bottom line though, there were less cars, less expectations and less distractions.

I think that attitudes and expectations have changed in the last 50 years when it comes to obtaining the privelige to drive a car on our streets.  And that has had to be addressed. The Graduated Driver's Licensing System is a big step in the right direction.  The skill required to pilot a car safely through our city does not come after 80 hours of supervised driving.  It won't come until proably about 5 years after you are awarded your P1 MDL.  So the graduated system is trying to prepare you to learn those skills, post P1, and with the Keys2Drive program, see you safely through that first six months.

The question still stands though right here, When will I know I'm I ready for my P1 PDA?

The authors of the Graduated Driver' License System have some guidelines that will help you decide if you are indeed ready for your P1 assessment.  These are all valid pointers, and when you can honestly tick each box as acheived that level, go for it.  But if you have not experienced any pointer, or are not able to complete any action safely, then here is a cheat sheet you can use to judge your level of expertise today, right now.

If you are ready to go forward for your P1 PDA, you:

Can move more than one car control at once

This is like using the accelerator, indicator and steer all at the same time.  For a frequently used control or button, you should be able to move your hand to it almost without looking.

Can make the car go in the direction and at the speed that you want it to go

Seems simple, but can you keep the car in your lane and not wander about.  Can you line up the car in 'right tyrn' lanes, and when a gap appears, can you use it and join a trffic flow seamlessly?

Drive smoothly when doing manoeuvres, and when driving around bends, on hills, at intersections, when merging and when changing lanes

Are you able to complete a Three Point Turn?  Can you maintain a steady turn on a bend without constantly adding or taking turn of the steering? Are you able to merge or change lanes easily, using indicators effectively and courteously?

Obey all road rules when driving

Can you?  You may have passed the Drivers Knowledge Quiz, but can you remember them all?

Are making driving decisions (which shows you have started to think in advance)

This relates to planning ahead and deciding the path your car should take, when to start braking in anticipation of making a turn, entering a driveway. what gear you should be in, 

Are thinking about where you would like to drive next

So when you get to point A (The shops) where to next (Mates place)

Use clues like information signs, landmarks and road signs/markings to help you work out where you need to drive

Markings on the road are not optional.  They provide critical information about where your car should be on the road.  Cutting corners may result in a head on collision.  Not good!  Turn lanes make turns easier, and advertise to everyone else where you re going.  Stop lines are STOP lines - no exception!  And out on country roads, solid white lines should be like a brickwall - inpenetrable!

Can change your driving route to get back on-course if you find you have turned into the wrong street

So, you get in the wrong lane.  Do you continue as if you are in your right lane, or do you go with your mistake and fix it down the road.  I hope you take the second option.  Ity may mean you go a block further before taking the turn, or you may even need to do a U Turn down the road, then thats what you do.  And remembere to do it right next time!

Watch other road users (including pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers) when driving

Great idea!  Do it all the time.  It will make a trip as a passenger more interesting, and practise hazard detection and how you would respond to it.  Get your brain thinking and working like a driver!

Can pick gaps in traffic when turning or changing lanes

Self explanatory - you should start to judge other car speeds and where they will go.  Look for indicators as a predictor, but always remember, sometimes indicators lie!

Adjust your speed to match the road, weather and traffic conditions

As you gain experience and confidence, you should be able to travel at the same speed as the traffic flow you have joined.  Weather conditions and time-of-day will have a bearing on how fast you and traffic will travel.  Remember the speed limit is just that - a limit - and while the speed limit may be 60KPH, a safer speed might be 50 or 40 KPH in wet, or smoky, or after dark conditions.

These are all valid pointers and good indicators on where you are in your journey.  Please use them.


Tony @ LDS














Don't Fool Yourself by Falsifying Log Books

Posted on 27 February, 2020 at 21:20

I was disheartened to hear from a young bloke who smiled at me, knowing I was a driving instructor, as he told me it was easy to write false entries into a log book and not have to spend so much time accumulating hours.

What a shame.  This kid will probably end up being another statistic in the 'less than 6 months experience' column in a table of people killed or seriously injured in motor vehicle accidents in Tasmania.  

Tassie kids actually have it easier than other states.  In NSW, beginner drivers need 120 hours logged before they can do their P1 Practical Driving Assessment.  So why would you think it is smart to falsify a log book that only needs you to complete at least just 50 hours?  

The aim of training to pass a PDA is not just the passing of said PDA, but to continue on after that point, to really learn the little one-percenters that are the differnece between a novice and an accomplished driver.  To self assess and self fix and not writing off themselves and and car-load of friends in a one-car-accident that is a sure sign of lack of experience and maturity.  And the self-congratulatory attitude of kids that falsify log books so they can get tested sooner is scary.

You are not doing anybody any favours.  Experienced Driver Assesors can pick the log book cheats by the very nature of their driving.  Their actions and reactions display the lack of automatic and unconscious responses that mark an experienced operator. 

At the moments, the pass rate in Tasmania is just over 50% as kids  consistently make basic errors - Indicators and Head Checks!  They may say the assessor is being picky.  Damn right they are!  Assessors have this one chance to confirm that you know what you are doing.  That your driving habits are positive, safe, automatic and your situational awareness is where it needs to be, right there, in the game.

When an assesor signs you off as being competent, that you are ready to go solo, he or she needs to be certain in their mind, that is their professional, expert mind, that you are a safe, aware operator.  Because once you have your license, the only way we know as driver educators that we have done our jobs right, is by not seeing you in the news as one more dead P Plater and their 4 dead friends.

And falsifying your log book hours is the first step to getting yourself in the news.

It's just not worth it.


Tony @ LDS


Posted on 28 January, 2020 at 23:25

Hi guys, you know we just had Christmas which probably left a hole in most people’s budgets and doesn’t leave a lot of spare cash when it comes to driving lessons. So for February, we would like to offer all sessions booked and paid for before the end February for up to 20% less than our website prices.

And whats more, any sessions booked up to June 30, 2020, but paid for before February 29, WILL ALSO GET THE DISCOUNT!

Our popular Six Pack and Ten Pack's are both $50 cheaper, which works out to a free lesson per pack!

For out Supervisor Services, where you use your own roadworthy car, this means a whopping $100 off our big ticket pack. The Super 10 Pack and the Super 20 Packs, are normally $400 and $700, but for February, they can be got for $350 and $600 respectively!!

Even the littler packs still have up to 20% Discount applied, so you will save this month!

But you must must must use the Codeword ‘SUZI ROCKS!’ when you book your lessons before  Feb 29. ‘Suzi Rocks!’ will save you $, as we are celebrating our brand new Suzuki Swift which will soon be getting you on the road and accumulating those hours for your P1 assessment.

You must contact us on 0414 749 626, call or text,

or email [email protected]

And don’t forget – SUZI ROCKS!




Driving can be such a distraction!

Posted on 21 January, 2020 at 7:00

One of the most common causes of motor vehicle accidents in Australia, is being distracted while operating a vehicle. Be it a car, bus, truck, motor-bike – if you can drive it, you can be distracted. And you could be distracted by one or all of the many ways that you can have your attention drawn away from the job at hand, driving and negotiating traffic.

And if there weren’t enough distractions out there already, the introduction of the mobile phone into our everyday lives has had fatal consequences for so many people.

So how many ways do you think you could be distracted, apart from mobile phones?

Lets start inside your car, as you are chugging down the road, stuff that can take your eyes and attention away from the road –

• Adjusting your radio, mirror, seatbelt, air conditioning, heater,

• Switching on/off your radio, CD Player wipers, headlights, heater, air con,

• Changing stations, CDs, flash drives,

• Eating, drinking, lighting a smoke (yuk),

• Talking, arguing, yelling, winding a window up or down – manually or electrically

• Selecting a destination on your satnav,

• And if you drive a manual, selecting the right gear, using the handbrake on a hill,

Can you think of many more?

The most common distractions are other people in your car, and adjusting your sound system. Figures from the NSW Department of Transport tell us that 14 percent of all accidents are caused by internal or external distractions, and as much as one in ten fatalities are attributed to driving distractioned.

The crazy thing is, 98% of drivers agree that is is very dangerous to use a mobile phone while driving, yet 28% admit to repeatedly doing it themselves!

The article goes on, ‘Distractions from outside the vehicle account for about 30% of the distractions that lead to crashes. And distractions from within vehicles account for up to about 36% (the remaining 34% is unknown).

Typically, the two biggest distractions inside the vehicle are other passengers and adjusting the sound system. Research has also shown that drivers using mobile phones and Global Positioning Systems (GPS) while driving are also much more likely to be involved in crashes. Text entry into a GPS unit while driving can be extremely dangerous. Sending and receiving text messages on a mobile phone while driving is also extremely dangerous, and is also illegal.’

And in Tassie, AMII did some research and

Tasmanian drivers are the worst in the country for hitting parked cars, according to new data collated by a major insurance company........motorists on Tasmanian roads are almost twice as likely as those driving on the mainland to hit an animal.

Crash Index data from more than 8,000 accidents between July 2017 and June 2018, released by insurer AAMI, has revealed 11 per cent of all car crashes in Tasmania were instances of drivers running into parked cars — well above the national average of 8 per cent.

Distracted? Probably.

Using a mobile phone while in the drivers seat, is illegal. You know that, and you have known it since you were a kid. You have seen other people doing it, and you know they are breaking the law. The fine is now more than $300 and will cost you 3 demerit points.

When you lose demerit points, it takes 3 years to get them back. As a novice driver, there is a really good chance that as you gain experience you will occasionally misjudge your speed, not quite stop at that Stop Sign, forget to indicate coming off that roundabout. It is so easy to accumulate demerit points, and you will get them back. But being distracted by whatever is happening inside – 34% - or outside – 36% - your car, could contribute to you missing that speed sign, missing that stop sign, forgettting that indicator – and the conswequences could be fatal.

As a beginning driver, part of the responsibility that comes with obtaining a driver’s license is ‘the buck stops here!’ Whatever you do in your car, is on you. If you remember the Stop Sign, or posted speed limit, you won’t be congratulated or given a trophy, because these are things expected of you. If you forget stuff, being distracted will not reduce your culpability in any accident. The buck stops with you!

If this is a bit heavy, it is meant to be. You see if you cause the death or serious injury of another motorist, passenger or pedestrian, that will be a life sentence for you. If you are a beginning driver, 17 or 18, this is something you really, do not want.

If you are using your phone, or having a great old time with your mates in your nifty little i30, and miss that red light, or miss that tightening bend, people will get hurt or die, and as the driver, it will be on you.

You have the capacity to understand that having a driver’s license really is a privledge. When you complete your driver training, and pass your P1 Assessment, your outlook will change. You will feel a little more free, and you will have the urge to get in your car and just go for a drive, because you can.

Thats fine, but you have bugger all solo experience, and i’m sorry, but your misplaced confidence in your own ability may see you move statistically from the least likely to have a serious accident as a Learner driver, to the most likely to have a serious accident as a ‘P’ Plater.

The best way to beat that statitic is to gain experience. To drive within yourself, and continue to learn, to keep developing that situational awareness, keep scanning for potential points of conflict and stay safe.

A great way to get valid experience while you are a Learner, vary your driving. Get experience in night driving, wet weather, country, heavy city traffic, light country town traffic. Try to get into a few different vehicles – small cars, bigger cars and vans. The Keys2Drive program talks about getting experience long, wide and deep. Get lots of time behind the wheel before your assessment, get a wide variety of conditions and traffic, and think about how you feel when something happens, and how you deal with it.

And if you have any queries, call us at Launceston Driving School or drop us a line.

Finally, make courtesy contagious!


How A Car Works 101

Posted on 2 December, 2019 at 18:00 Comments comments (1)

How Does A Car Work?

OK, we know a car, and in fact most other vehicles – buses, trucks, motorbikes…. All turn fuel, diesel or petrol, into motion. To get from here to there, you know you need to put fuel in your car regularly, because if you don’t, it’ll stop, and you will stay stopped until your lack of fuel is remedied which usually involved a lot of crying, begging, pleading and walking.

There are things you should know about the mechanical side of owning a car because one day, perhaps when you call the RACT, you will be asked to describe why your car stopped. Wouldn’t it be better if there were things you can do that will keep your car running? Good news! There are things you can do, and knowing a little bit about your car will help you understand why you have to do what you do.

Your Car Has Systems

Before we look at how it all works, there are several systems that are inter-related and which contribute to you getting home.

The fuel system, which includes fuel gauge, fuel tank, carby or fuel injectors, and in late model cars electronic bits that you really don’t want to know about!

The cooling system, which is not the air-conditioning! This system keeps the engines operating temperature at a safe level and includes the radiator, radiator hoses, overflow tank, the radiator cap and the engine temperature gauge. This is one system you can monitor and add coolant if necessary.

The oil or lubrication system is a vital part of your engine. It includes the oil, the oil pump and the oil pressure light on your dashboard. If the oil light ever comes on, stop immediately, because your engine is in imminent danger of catastrophic failure which will be expensive! This is another system you can monitor and add oil if necessary.

The next areas of your car should only be played with by qualified mechanics.

The electrical system provides your lights and the spark to fire up your engine. It includes your battery, the starter-motor, the alternator, the alternator light, the spark plugs, the distributor, all the wiring and fuses etc etc. There are so many bits on your car that use electrickery, including your air-con, entertainment system, electric seats, and so much more, and most of the time, everything works, most of the time! There is not a lot you can do if this system fails except call the RACT.

The next system is the transmission, which transfers the energy created by the engine, to make the wheels turn at your command. It includes the gearbox – manual and automatic – drive-shafts, axles, differentials, CV joints, the clutch and the gear stick for a manual, or the gear selector in an automatic.

All the above systems work together to move your car. Some you control, others happen in the background working to keep you mobile. But they are all important, and any one can fail, bringing your car to a grinding halt.

How Does My Car Work?

When you turn the key to start your engine, just the right amount of fuel is fed into one of the pistons in your engine. In a 4 cylinder car, there are 4 of them – one per cylinder, hence the title. In a six cylinder car, there are 6 pistons, and a V8 has 8. The mechanics of an engine are pretty amazing with each piston going up and down, driven by the fuel exploding in the combustion chamber to drive the piston down. The combined controlled explosions rotate a crankshaft to which the pistons are connected, and this rotation is transmitted to the wheels by the transmission.

In a car with a manual transmission, you control the rate this rotational power is transmitted by selecting the right gear for the right speed. We need gears because a physical force called torque is generated, and the efficiency of the whole system is affected by the weight of the car, the amount of power being created by the engine, the outside environment – level ground, or going uphill or downhill – and inertia. From standing still, to get the car rolling, more power is needed to overcome inertia so the ratio of power to speed is high. As speed increases there is a physical limit to how fast a car can go in the gear which is used to get going, so we need to change to the next gear which allows the car to go quicker for less power, and so it goes until you are in the higher gear, and going much faster. If you find you need to slow down, the higher gears are not conducive to lower speeds as the physical force mentioned before, torque, is insufficient and the car may actually stall, or cut out, so you need to engage a lower gear..

So bottom line is you need to be in the right gear for the right speed. So when you need to slow for a corner for example, to maintain your momentum, and keep the engine working efficiently, you need to get into a lower gear.

The gears in a manual transmission mesh directly with the engine, so to ‘change gear’, up or down, so from 1st to 2nd to 3rd to 4th, or from 4th to 3rd to 2nd to 1st, as the driver, you will need to disengage the engine from the transmission to effect the gear change, and that’s where the ‘clutch’ comes in.

When you depress the clutch pedal (with your left foot, and only your left foot), you are disengaging the engine from the transmission.

You would also use the clutch while stationary to start the engine and select the gear required - 1st or Reverse, or when stationary while waiting at a stop sign or traffic light.

So a typical sequence might go like this;

Clutch is in - start engine – select 1st gear – clutch is out – car is in motion – at appropriate speed clutch in – change from 1st to 2nd gear – clutch out – at correct speed – clutch in – change from 2nd to 3rd gear – clutch out – at correct speed – clutch in – change gear from 3rd to 4th – clutch out.

So now we are driving down the street, listening to the engine, always ready to change gear, up or down as appropriate. Or, you could have a car with an automatic gearbox.

In an automatic gear box, the car can sense what speed you are doing, what demand you are making on the engine, and the automatic gear change system, will select the right gear for the speed for you. And if you suddenly demand extra speed, it will sense this demand and change gear to enable you to get to speed quicker, for example when overtaking another car.

Automatic gearboxes are much more user friendly and are the preferred system for most people, especially for city dwellers that are exposed to much more stop-start traffic than out in the countryside. The main downside for automatics is slightly higher fuel consumption, though with computer assisted gear-changes and management systems, fuel consumption is getting better every time a new model comes on the market..

Starting The Engine

For a car with a manual gearbox, before you look to start the engine, first confirm your park-brake is applied. You can start the engine with the gearshift in ‘Neutral’, which is in effect no gear. Or you can start the engine in any gear, provided you have depressed the clutch pedal to disengage the engine. If you can move the gear-stick around loosely, it’s probably in neutral. If it feels stiff and hard to move, it’s probably in gear. So depress the clutch pedal and to find neutral you will move the gear shift so it is in the centre of its area of movement, which is usually represented by the 'H' pattern on the gear-shift knob.

If you try to start the engine, in gear, with no clutch, the car will try to jerk forward, even with the hand brake applied. This is because as the starter- motor tries to turn over the engine to fire it up, if the engine is still directly engaged with the transmission, the motion will be transmitted to the wheels. So as a matter of habit, whenever you are starting a manual car, always ensure you have the clutch pedal depressed, even if you know the gear-shift is in neutral. The starter-motor is a very strong electric motor which can move a car forward, or backward, whichever way the gear-shift is pointed, and if a person or child walks in front or behind a car which is starting, the potential for injury or worse is very high. So remember, starting a manual, park brake is applied, check gear-shift is in neutral, clutch pedal depressed, then, hit the starter.

In a car with an automatic gearbox, it will only start if you have the selector in P (Park) or N (Neutral). If you have selected D (Drive) or L (Low) or 1 or 2, the engine will not start, it will not even turn over. You will still ensure your Park-brake is applied, and you should also apply pressure to the foot brake pedal with your right foot, and only your right foot!

Why? To be sure, to be sure! It’s all about instilling safe practices and habits.


Getting The Car To Move

So in our automatic car, after checking the Park-brake is on, and your right foot has positive pressure on the brake pedal and the gear selector is in Park, start the engine. Getting the car in motion in an automatic is as easy as, after checking the Park Brake is still applied, and your right foot has positive pressure on the Foot Brake, moving the gear selector from Park to Drive, then releasing the Park Brake. Now the only thing holding you is your right foot. If you slowly ease the pressure on the Brake pedal, you will feel the car slowly start to move. If you release the Brake pedal completely, the car may move quicker, depending on the slope of the surface you are on. And to move even quicker, you would move your right foot from the Brake to the Accelerator pedal.

In normal driving your right foot will be on the brake OR accelerator, so you will be trying to go, or trying to stop, in either a manual or automatic car.

In a manual car, checking the Park Brake is on, the gear stick is in Neutral, your left foot has the clutch pedal in and with right foot applying positive pressure to the Brake pedal, start the engine.

Now select 1st gear, release the Park Brake. You are holding the car stationary with left foot on clutch and right foot on brake. Let’s assume the ground is level. Now you are ready to roll – ease your foot off the clutch. As the clutch pedal comes up you will feel the engine and transmission engage and the car will start to move forward without you touching the accelerator. Now gently apply pressure to the accelerator pedal, imagine there is an egg under your right foot. The accelerator pedal will feed more fuel into the engine, making it run faster, and so the car will pick up speed.

At the correct speed, you will push the clutch in and simultaneously ease your foot off the accelerator pedal, then move the gearstick from 1st to 2nd gear, then as the clutch pedal comes up, your will reapply pressure to the accelerator and just like the above sequence you’ll soon be in 4th gear going down the road doing 50kph.

The manual car will require much more practice, but you will get to the point where you will do a gear change without thinking, and you will sense what gear you need to be in for any situation. – cornering, going uphill, towing a load or passing another car.

So whether you are driving an automatic or a manual car, with the help of your driving instructor and lots of practice you will soon be doing the things that get you from zero to whatever kph safely and stress free.