Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Why change the Graduated Licensing System?
An average of 48 young drivers and passengers die or are seriously injured on our roads every year. This is 48 too many.
The Tasmanian Government is committed to improving the safety of young drivers.
That’s why we’re strengthening Tasmania’s Graduated Licensing System. Young people will get more on-road driving experience and skills. This will keep new drivers and their passengers safer when they first get their Ps and start driving solo.
In 2002, Tasmania ahead of most other jurisdictions introduced the 50-hour compulsory logbook. Further improvements were made in 2009.
There has been a reduction in the number of young people involved in serious casualty crashes, but more can and needs to be done to make them safer on our roads.
A national best practice model was developed in 2014. All states and territories support the National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020 and agreed to make changes to their Graduated Licensing Systems to align with the best practice model, and to improve access to licensing.
Our Graduated Licensing System is not best practice. We need to update it to meet nationally agreed best practice standards. These changes will see us meeting the “enhanced” model and closely align us with Victoria and NSW who are at the forefront of safe practices for young drivers.
These changes will help protect our young drivers and improve our licensing system.
Won’t these changes make it harder for young people to get a licence?
The Graduated Licensing System changes will help protect young drivers and make them and their passengers safer. Young drivers will get as much supervised experience as possible. They will have less distractions during a high-risk driving period of their lives. The changes will improve the safety of everyone on the road.
To help new drivers, we are also looking at creating a better licensing system.
We are looking at providing more online services for the licensing process. It will reduce the number of times you need to pay fees or visit Service Tasmania.
Changes we are looking at include:
- Electronic learner logbooks
- a digital learning platform with all the resources learners and supervisors need in one place, that can be accessed using any device at any time online
- computerised tests (the driver knowledge test and hazard perception test) that can be taken at any time online
- reducing some licence fees, and
an automatic “safe driver reward” which gives drivers who remain offence-free during their provisional period a free three-year driver licence.
Why aren’t you changing the Motorcycle Graduated Licensing System?
Motorcyclists of all ages are over-represented in crashes.
The Tasmanian Government recently (May 2017) made improvements to motorcycle training to target key riding skills and behaviours that novice riders need when they start riding.
There has been a slight reduction in motorcycle serious casualty crashes from 69 in 2017 to 60 in 2018.
Consideration will be given to reviewing the motorcycle Graduated Licensing System in the next Towards Zero Strategy Action Plan (2020-2024).
I’ve already got my Ls/Ps, will these changes still affect me?
Most changes will not apply to people who have a learner or provisional licence.
We will provide more information to people who have a learner or provisional licence closer to the introduction of the Graduated Licensing System changes.
When will the changes start?
We are planning the best way to introduce these changes to make sure they work the best they can for you.
It is likely to take 12-18 months.
We will keep you updated so everyone affected by the changes has plenty of notice.
What is NOT changing?
There will be no change to:
- the age you can get a learner or provisional licence
- the minimum time you have to hold an L1/L2 licence
- the minimum time you have to hold a P1/P2 licence
- the L2 or P1 driving assessments
- speed limits for learner and provisional drivers.
Why make hours compulsory in L1?
International research and Australian evaluations show the more supervised driving experience a person gets, the safer they will be when they start driving on their own.
Learner drivers in Tasmania are required to hold their L1 licence for at least three months before taking the L2 assessment.
It is already recommended that L1 learners do at least 30 hours of supervised driving to make them road ready and capable of passing the L2 assessment.
The change to make 30 hours of supervised driving in L1 compulsory is to ensure that everyone gets a minimum amount of experience to make them safer drivers.
What if I can’t get 30 hours?
In recognition of the difficulty some people may have with the changes to L1 hours we have ways that you can gain additional hours.
By attending the Rotary Youth Driver Awareness (RYDA) program you can gain five hours supervised driving in L1.
A one-hour lesson with a certified driving instructor will gain you two hours of supervised driving credit in L1 (this is capped at 10 lessons).
Keys2Drive is a program that provides learners and their supervisors with a free driving lesson, which will also give you two hours credit towards your 30 hours. www.keys2drive.com.au.
These are only available for L1 drivers. This will provide learners and their supervisory drivers assistance with getting the 30 hours.
How can I access the Rotary Youth Driver Awareness program?
The Rotary Youth Driver Awareness (RYDA) program is a one-day road safety course offered in schools throughout Tasmania.
RYDA is designed for Year 10 students. A licence provides independence, social mobility and a lot of responsibility. The program ensures students are aware of their responsibilities as a road user and teaches safe driving practices.
RYDA is offered at seven different locations throughout Tasmania, including Smithton, Queenstown and King Island.
Only students attending a participating school can participate in RYDA. You can contact your school to find out if they participate in RYDA.
The Tasmanian Government has provided additional funding for the RYDA program of $300 000 over four years.
What if I can’t afford driving lessons?
Participation in the Rotary Youth Driver Awareness (RYDA) program will give you five hours supervised driving credit towards your 30 hours.
The Keys2drive program also provides learners with a free driving lesson, which will give you two hours credit towards your 30 hours. www.keys2drive.com.au.
The Government also funds the Learner Driver Mentor Program (LDMP). LDMPs assist disadvantaged learner drivers who don’t have access to a supervisory driver or vehicle and who are not able to afford professional driving lessons to gain their supervised driving hours. An additional $4 million over four years will continue to support the program.
To find out more go to: https://drivermentoringtasmania.org.au/.
Why have night-time hours in L2?
Evidence shows that young drivers have an increased crash risk at night as it requires more skills, concentration and ability to identify risks. The safest time to develop these skills is during the learner period.
The change to include 15 night-time hours in the L2 period will help improve young drivers’ skills and reduce their crash risk when they start driving on their own.
When a young driver gets their P1 licence the community expects them to be ready for different driving conditions. This change will ensure our young drivers have varied experience and are road ready when they get their Ps.
How is driving at night going to reduce crash risk?
One of the most effective ways to improve safety and reduce risk is to ensure learners get as much supervised driving experience as possible in a range of conditions. Making night-time driving compulsory in L2 will ensure learners get a minimum amount of experience at night and have an opportunity to develop safe night-time driving skills.
Risks faced by young drivers are being addressed in other ways by the Graduated Licensing System including:
- introduction of a Hazard Perception Test (HPT) to help young drivers identify and respond to hazards;
- peer passenger restrictions during P1 to help young drivers avoid distractions; and
- mobile phone bans during the learner and provisional period to help young drivers avoid distraction and focus on driving.
What if I can’t drive at night?
The 15 hours of night-time driving may be hard for people who don’t have access to a supervisor or vehicle at night, or can’t go driving for other reasons such as work or family responsibilities.
We will work closely with communities and service providers to look at ways of helping people get valuable night-time driving experience during L2.
How is the hazard perception test going to make me safer?
The hazard perception test has been shown to reduce crashes for young drivers.
It is used in most Australian states as a way to assess a driver’s ability to see and respond to hazards that they will face when driving. If you do not have these skills you are at an increased risk of crashing.
Will introducing another test make the licensing system harder?
Hazards are a risk area for young drivers. The hazard test is an additional step in the licensing system but it will help make young drivers safer.
The test will be online and free of charge, making it easy and convenient to take the test when you are ready.
Young people will be consulted during the test’s development to make sure it is accessible and easy to understand.
Consideration will be given to people that may not have access to a computer and/or internet.
How is a total ban on mobile phone use going to be enforced?
The total mobile phone ban on learner and provisional drivers will be enforced by Tasmania Police. Penalties will apply to those caught using a mobile, even hands free, while driving.
More information on these will be available when penalties are finalised.
Most other jurisdictions have a similar ban on mobile phones. Young drivers face increased risk of distraction. Minimising the risk of distraction will help keep our young drivers and other road users safe.
Why only mobile phones, what about other distracting devices or behaviour?
The Tasmanian Road Rules regulate mobile phone use for all drivers as it is a cause of driver distraction.
The Road Rules also require you to drive with due car and attention. This means, if you are distracted and not driving responsibly then the Tasmanian Police may pull you over.
What about other devices like smart watches or tablets?
The Tasmanian Road Rules only regulate the use of mobile phones. There are road rules that apply to all drivers that require due care and attention to be taken when driving. Anyone who is distracted by using a smart watch, or any other reason, could face penalties under this rule.
There is a national project, led by the National Transport Commission (NTC), reviewing the laws around driver distraction, including the current road rules for mobile phone use. Further information can be accessed here - https://www.ntc.gov.au/current-projects/developing-technology-neutral-road-rules-for-driver-distraction/?modeId=1064&topicId=1083
We will consider the outcomes of the NTC review in the context of any changes to the Tasmanian Graduated Licensing System.
Why restrict passengers just for P1 drivers?
Young drivers are at the highest risk of a crash when they first start driving on their own (P1 period).
P1 drivers have limited experience and still need to devote most of their attention to the task of driving. Removing distractions like peer passengers is one proven way we can help protect new drivers.
Targeting young people in this highest-risk group enables a balance between safety and social mobility. The restriction only applies to P1 drivers under the age of 25 and passengers who are aged 16-21 (inclusive).
The restriction will only apply for 12 months while a driver is on their P1 licence. This is a small amount of time out of a lifetime of driving.
What about other distracting/risk taking behaviours?
Restricting passengers won’t eliminate all the risks that P1 drivers face, but it has been proven to reduce crashes. In Victoria the full-time peer passenger restrictions have contributed to a 70 per cent decrease in 18 to 23 year olds involvement in serious casualty crashes.
The risks faced by young drivers are being addressed in other ways by the Graduated Licensing System including:
- the introduction of a HPT to help young drivers identify and respond to hazards; and
a mobile phone ban during the learner and provisional period to help young drivers avoid distraction.
I live in a rural/remote area, how will I get around?
The changes are aimed at protecting young drivers and their passengers. Getting a driver licence is one of the riskiest things a young person will do. The changes aim to reduce this risk.
Mobility and convenience must be balanced with saving young people's lives. For example, the peer passenger restriction will apply for only 12 months out of a person’s entire driving career, but will significantly reduce their risk of crashing.
If young people can’t car-pool, won’t it make them less safe?
The peer passenger restrictions will mean that P1 drivers under 25 years will not be able to carry more than one peer passenger aged 16-21 for their 12-month P1 period. They will still be able to carry family members, an experienced (supervisory) driver, passengers who are not aged 16-21 years old, and more than one peer passenger if an exemption applies.
Passenger restrictions do not apply to drivers at the P2 stage and so they will not be affected by the restrictions, and may be able to assist with car-pooling or agree to be a 'designated driver'.
Car-pooling with a P1 driver is my only option for school/sport/work, what will I do?
P1 drivers under 25 will still be able to carry family members, an experienced (supervisory) driver, passengers who are not aged 16-21 years old, and more than one peer passenger if an exemption applies.
Passenger restrictions do not apply to drivers at the P2 stage and so they will not be affected by the restrictions and may be able to assist with car-pooling.
Won’t less people in a car mean more cars and more congestion?
The P1 peer passenger restriction will have minimal impact on how many cars are on the road. It is aimed at limiting the number of peer passengers a young P1 driver can have in the car and reducing their risk of crashing during their first 12 months of driving.
Are there exemptions?
There are exemptions for peer passenger restrictions for young drivers on P1 licences under the age of 25.
An automatic (no need to apply) exemption process will be established for peer passenger restrictions for the following reasons:
- essential activities (e.g. education or medical purposes)
- family circumstances.
How do I get an exemption?
You do not need to complete an application to get an exemption, but you must be able to satisfy the police that you meet the relevant exemption criteria each time you drive – as a P1 driver, this is your responsibility.
More information will be provided in this as the matter progresses.