Student blog: advice on getting a driver's licence in Brisbane
With Brisbane’s convenient public transport, you don’t really need a car to get around in the city. But from time to time, you’re bound to crave a spontaneous road trip to the beaches, islands and rainforests around Brisbane. Life is so much easier if you have a driver's licence and a car.
Back in Japan, I didn’t have a driver’s licence. I only considered getting a licence just before starting my clinical nursing placement in Brisbane because there was no public transportation available from the hospital after my late-night shift, and getting a taxi every night seemed impractical.
It took me 15 months to complete my learner experience logbook and four driving tests to finally be able to drive on my own. I had to complete 100 hours without my family’s support – but if I can do it, you can too!
What do you have to do to get a licence?
First, you need to take a written test. It is about road safety, rules and signs. You can practise here and if you do it enough times you’re bound to cover all the same questions that come up, so if you practise enough, you can pass it in one go!
After you pass the written test, you can start practise driving on a learner’s licence and complete your logbook. You must drive with someone who has had an open license for at least one year. If you are going to drive a manual car, your supervisor must have a manual driver’s license with them.
The logbook is for recording your driving activity to ensure that your driving record is legitimate. It can be done through either a physical book or a mobile app. You must complete 100 hours of driving practise in the logbook and must hold your learner licence for at least one year before you take your practical road test.
After you submit your logbook, it will take approximately two weeks for the Department of Transport to review and approve it, then you can book a driving test at one of their offices near you. If you pass the driving test, you will get the Provisional 1 license (red Ps), or if you are over 25 years old, you will be able to obtain the Provisional 2 (green Ps). You can drive on P1 or P2 licences without supervision.
If you are learner under 25 you might be eligible for a learner logbook exemption. You can check the details here. This should make it less stressful for you. However, if you are granted an exemption, you will need to hold your learner licence for two years.
If you already had a licence issued in your own country, you can apply to transfer it to a Queensland licence. If your licence is not in English, you will need to have it translated by a translator approved by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI). Different rules apply to different countries so make sure you read this page first.
Do not fake driving hours
Please DO NOT fill in fake driving hours. The Department of Transport and Main Roads can identify if your driving hours were faked, and they will return your logbook to you and you will need to re-complete your logbook with legitimate driving hours. Missing hours can also affect your confidence and driving ability so I encourage you to practise driving as much as you can.
Failing the test a few times doesn’t mean you’ll be a bad driver
We all want to pass tests on the first try, but it’s normal to fail a few times. Just remember that this doesn’t necessarily make you a bad driver.
The first time I took the driving test, I failed in the first five minutes because I missed the school zone sign when I turned a corner and I was driving at 50 km/hour when I was supposed to drive at 40. The second time I failed was because I merged into the next lane without enough space between me and another car. The third time, I failed because I stalled my manual car five times.
And the fourth time I finally passed!
Did I scare you away? Yes, getting a licence in Australia can be hard, but you won’t have to fail many times if you practise enough and stayed calm during the test.
Hire a professional instructor
Without family members here to support me, I had to ask my friends to help me practise. But most of the time, I paid a professional driving supervisor to teach me for $50 for an hour. You must be thinking, “wow, that’s expensive!” Yes, it was. However, these professional instructors have been driving all their lives so they know everything there is to know about learning to drive: road signs, rules and driving tests, so your money won’t be wasted. Also, your first 10 actual hours of driving with professional drivers will be tripled as your actual driving hours in the logbook.
Don’t buy a car before you get the licence
You can buy a car without a driver’s license, but you won’t be able to buy car insurance or drive by yourself without it. My advice is - don’t buy your car before you can actually drive alone.
Your professional driving instructor should be able to teach you driving with their car, which is specially designed to help learners. They usually have a brake, accelerator (and a clutch) on the passenger’s seat so they can control the car while you drive. Using their practise car is generally included in the price of their driving lessons, so there is no need to buy a car while you are still learning. You can also borrow your friend’s car to practise on quiet streets, but make sure your friend has insurance that covers accidents.
Driving can be scary, but if you remain calm, practise enough and follow all the signs, you can become a great driver. Don’t be nervous when you take the test. Your assessor is not there to judge you. They just want to make sure that you follow all the road rules. Good luck at getting a licence, and drive safely!
Already got your driver's licence? Our 2018 Brisbane International Student Ambassador Nipuni has some road trip routes around Brisbane she wants you to check out!