120 hours until you can sit for your driving test. Harsh or smart?

Back when I got my drivers licence, there were no rules about how many hours of practice you had to complete. I reckon I had maybe…a dozen hours of driving experience max. Half of them were lessons. A few hours driving with my parents or older brother. The rest were driving – ahem – illegally on my own. At one memorable point, I decided I was such a great driver….

….I was ready to teach my best friend how to drive, despite neither of us having our drivers licences. That’s a story for another time. Don’t try this at home kids.

Now though, things are certainly different in NSW (are other states the same?) and it’s blowing my mind to think about what that means for people who want to learn to drive. 120 hours is a lot for any one person. And it can also be a pain in the arse for the parents. BUT IMAGINE IF YOU HAD QUINTUPLETS.

SMH recently published a story about the Laverack family who have 16 year old quintuplets and need to clock 600 hours of driving instruction…

According to the report:

“My husband and I looked at each other and laughed,” said Mrs Laverack. “I understand the laws are out there, I understand the reason why we’re doing this but far out, it’s just a lot, a lot of hours.”

Her five children, Andrew, Cameron, Amanda, Kristelle and Neroli, have no intention of joining the throng of young people who are rorting the system. They will learn in succession to reduce the burden on their parents. Andrew was first. He has 33 hours’ experience but doesn’t think he’ll do 120 by the end of the year.
The incentive is there though – the nearest bus stop to the family home in Bonnells Bay is a kilometre away. Mrs Laverack said finding the time and money was hard. “Yes I want them to drive but you’ve also got to be realistic,” she said. “Just to find a spare $10 for the fuel consumption to teach these kids to drive [is difficult].”
She said if the requirements were 50 hours rather than 120 more of her children could have learnt together. “That [system] was far more reasonable, more logical.”


God bless that family… really wouldn’t want to be last in line because the car will surely commit suicide well before the last child completes their alloted 120 hours.

Of course, it’s worth nothing that the death rate for teenagers involved in car accidents h as dropped by 38% since the 120 hour rule was introduced in 2007. And even one life being saved is surely worth any ‘hassle’ factor. However there are circumstances where it’s tough.
I was listening to a radio interview the other day with an 18 year old single mother who is struggling to get to 120 hours due to the time and expense involved as well as the fact she needs to bring her baby with her during any lessons and most instructors’ cars do not come with baby capsule facilities.

Meanwhile, parenting site Babble reports:

…research by the driving association NRMA reveals 40 per cent of young drivers have either lied about their hours behind the wheel, are thinking about lying, or know someone who has since licensing requirements changed from 50 to 120 practice hours in 2007.There is evidence the tough new measures are working though, with preliminary data showing that P-plater road deaths have falled from 67 to 46 over the 18 months since the new regime was introduced.

Kids whose own parents don’t drive face bigger hurdles. They face a staggering $6000 bill for driving lessons if they were to do all their hours through a standard driving school.

The Australian Driver Training Association is calling for a change that would make an hour of professional instruction count as three hours in the logbook. The concept, in place in Queensland, would have a cap of 10 one-hour lessons.

“We want to see a reward for parents who can use the professional driving instructor, particularly early in the process, so that once [the school] gets the driver up to a reasonable level of competence they can feel more confident about taking them out for the necessary practice,” the president of the association, Jeff McDougall, said.

Do you remember your driving test? I failed mine first go, got it the second time. Is this the best way to teach teenage drivers and is everyone honourable or do most people just fill in their log book on the way to their test and fill it with lies?