Young drivers

Learner driver with father

Young drivers move from having the lowest to the highest chance of being involved in a fatal crash when they gain their P1 Licence. In 2014, while 18 to 25-year-olds accounted for 21% of Victorian drivers killed, this age group represents only about 14% of Victorian licence holders.

The reasons why young and novice drivers are more likely to be involved in a crash is complex. Contributing risk factors (not independent) relate to:

  • Inexperienced drivers: Driving is a complex task and developing the critical skills needed for safe driving takes time and practice.
  • Immaturity: Issues associated with age and brain development can add to the complexity of driving for young drivers.
  • Lifestyle: Behaviours such as carrying multiple passengers, being distracted by smartphones (and other devices) while driving and, lifestyle factors causing fatigue can increase young drivers' crash risk.
  • Risk taking: There can be a greater tendency for intentional and unintentional risk taking, such as misperceiving the level of risk associated with an action. In one Australian study only about 7% of young people reported engaging in deliberately high-risk behaviours as drivers and about a third reported engaging in moderately risky behaviours. The majority of young people reported engaging in low-risk behaviours suggesting they are trying to do the right thing.

Find out more about Victorian Graduated Licensing System (GLS) and Victorian's road safety education programs.

Learners Drivers

The foundation of road safety education and developing safe drivers starts with parents when their children are in child restraints and learning to cross the road safely. The TAC has developed a range of road safety education programs for primary and secondary schools that line up with the stages of child development and match young people's experience of the roads and traffic.

Getting enough experience

The building of knowledge and experience is the best education for young drivers. Fit to Drive is a Year 11 workshop focussing on passenger safety and issues faced by a new young driver. The Graduated Licensing System (GLS) includes a focus on beginning drivers getting plenty of supervised practice as a learner driver, which has been shown to reduce new drivers' risk of crashing when they get their Ps. There are lots of resources available for beginning drivers and their parents/carers that are all designed to keep them safe. See more information on Road Safety Education Victoria, the TAC website or at

Learner drivers aged under-21 years in Victoria must complete at least 120 hours supervised driving practice which needs to be recorded in an official VicRoads log book. The log book must be signed by the supervising driver and presented to VicRoads at the time of the P Drive Test. We encourage supervising drivers to support their learner drivers to obtain a diverse range of experience in all conditions, building this up through the four stages of learning to drive. Night driving is particularly dangerous for young drivers because of the increased risks. As part of the Towards Zero strategy we’re doubling the hours of supervised night time driving required by L-platers – from 10 – 20 hours – so they’re more prepared when they start driving on their own.

P Plate Drivers

Even though L plates are no longer on the windscreen, parents and carers can still give advice and guidance. Safer P Plates offers information and tips on how to support young drivers through the probationary period – the first six months is their most vulnerable and dangerous time. Parents are encouraged to stay involved and help new drivers to make smart decisions and reduce the risks, such as picking them up from a party or letting them drive the safer family car on long drives. Newly licensed P1 drivers are encouraged to keep their late night driving to a minimum until they build up more driving experience.

Are defensive driving courses a good idea?

We often get a lot of questions about the benefits of extra driver training and defensive driving courses. When we look into crashes, we find that driver car control skill is not a factor in the majority of crashes (fatigue, drink driving and speed are the leading contributing factors). Providing too much emphasis on advanced car control driving skills does not create better safety outcomes for drivers; it can lead to an increase in risky behaviours due to the perception among these people that they are more skilled. While drivers need to master basic car control skills, this occurs relatively quickly and can be achieved in real traffic environments from the Learner phase under the supervision of an experienced driver or instructor.

There are many ways parents can help their kids ease into driving on their own and reduce their risk of crashing. The Safer P Plates website highlights the major risks young drivers face and how parents can help them be safer on our roads.

Young Driver Safety Package

The Victorian Government has committed to implement a plan to reduce further young driver crash rates through the development and delivery of a suite of education and training initiatives. These initiatives, referred to as the Young Driver Safety Package (YDSP), are grouped into five clusters and will be put in place by either TAC or VicRoads.

The YDSP initiatives are:

  1. Road safety education complex (TAC): The complex will be a global hub for road safety, featuring evidence-based and best practice programs to engage young people and the community in the prevention of road trauma.
  2. Practical safe driving program (VicRoads): A driver education and training program targeted at beginner drivers to help prepare them to be safer drivers.
  3. Free licence scheme (VicRoads): The scheme will reward the most responsible young drivers (those who have completed four years on P-plates with no traffic offences) with a free three-year licence.
  4. L2P – learner driver mentor program (VicRoads): A program designed to help young Victorians without access to a car or supervising driver to gain the minimum 120 hours supervised driving experience.
  5. Youth grants, communication opportunities and forums (TAC):  The TAC will help facilitate youth initiatives and projects at the community level to help reduce road trauma.

Young Driver Safety Package developments to date

Task Force

A Task Force has been established to oversee the development of the YDSP initiatives. Chaired by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Special Minister of State and Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure, Shaun Leane MP, the Task Force also comprises senior level staff from the TAC, VicRoads, the Department of Education and Training and Victoria Police. Eric Howard, Monash University Accident Research Centre's Global Road Safety Advisor, is providing independent expertise and support in the role of Deputy Chair.

Stakeholder Engagement

  • An industry briefing was held in early April 2015.
  • Stakeholders shared information about existing programs to assist the Task Force to understand the breadth of driver education and training offered to young people across Victoria.
  • The Task Force made visits to a number of industry and program providers to see first-hand the range of driver education and training programs delivered in Victorian schools and to young drivers.
  • A 1.5 day workshop was held at the end of August 2015 to explore perspectives on the needs of, and experiences in, the delivery of driver education and training to youth in Victoria. Three themes were explored: youth development, educating youth, driver education and training. About 80 representatives from the driver training industry, road safety education, and the government and community sectors took part.

Other Research and Development activities

  • A Learning Framework for Young Driver Education and Training has been developed to inform the two key initiatives: Practical Safe Driving Program and Road Safety Education Complex. The framework is based on the Victorian Graduated Licensing System. The relationship between opportunities in road safety education and training, and the school curricula in Victoria is demonstrated.
  • Discussion groups with parents, young people, members of the Australian Driver Trainers Association, and secondary school principals to gain insights and views on a range of perspectives and experiences in the learning to drive process for young drivers and the role that driver education and training can play, as well as the role of parents, schools and others in that process.
  • Targeted literature reviews of the latest relevant research in education and young driver safety.
  • Targeted analysis of Victorian crash and licensing data for learner and newly licensed drivers.

L2P learner driver mentor program

In February 2015, the TAC Board approved additional funding to enable the L2P learner driver mentor program to continue. L2P enables young people without access to a car or supervising driver to achieve the minimum 120-hour driving experience requirement as a young learner driver.

Free Licence Scheme

The Free Licence Scheme officially came into effect on 1 February 2016. The $7 million Free Licence Scheme rewards young drivers who complete both their red and green probationary periods without any traffic offences or demerit points, with a free three year licence. The licence, worth $76, will be awarded to drivers when they receive their full licence for the first time. As well as having a good driving record, drivers must be issued a probationary licence before the age of 21 to be eligible for the scheme. Find out more.

Road Smart Program

The Practical Safe Driving Program (PSDP) is now known as the Road Smart program. The program will be delivered across the State to support and enhance Victoria's Graduated Licensing System. Road Smart will be designed to provide beginner drivers and their supervising drivers with target capabilities in the form of knowledge, skills and behaviours to lay the foundations for safe driving among young drivers. The program will be available to all Year 10 students (or equivalent) and will link with the Victorian curriculum. It involves in-car, in-classroom, and e-learning components for beginner drivers. It also involves e-learning for supervising drivers and a toolkit for teachers.

In December 2016, Karrikins Group Community Pty Ltd was appointed to develop the curriculum for the Practical Safe Driving Program in-class and in-car components.

Piloting of the Road Smart program started in term 2, 2017 with seven schools across the state which tested the in-class and in-car components of the program. In this pilot, 31 in-class sessions and 117 in-car lessons were delivered.

Piloting will continue during term 3 and 4, 2017 and will test the end to end program process including the eLearning modules and resource toolkit for teachers. .

From 2018, Road Smart will replace Keys Please as the leading road safety education program for Year 10 students in Victoria.

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