Education Archives | Page 2 of 4 | LTrent

How to make your testing officer feel comfortable

driver and trainer
The Aim of the Test
Learner drivers usually hear stories from their friends on what the driving test is going to be like and advice about what to do. Some of this is true, most is not.
During the driving test, the learner driver’s aim is to make the testing officer feel comfortable, that is, they feel safe in the car with you.
Setting off in a controlled manner and driving confidently right from the outset will make the testing officer more relaxed.
Generally, if the testing officer is chatting with the learner driver, this is a sign that they feel confident. If they are using the grab handles then they might not be feeling so comfortable!
Appearance Counts (20)
The test starts before the learner driver gets into the car. The learner driver wants to make a good first impression to the testing officer.
Follow these points:

  • Don’t be late
  • Be neat and tidy
  • Smile
  • Have all paperwork sorted out and neat (look after your logbook)
  • Have a clean car parked in the correct location
  • Know how to operate the indicators and brake lights without the engine running

How to drive during the test
Be seen
We have heard from some students that they have been advised to drive 15 km/h below the speed limit. This is not a good idea, it will make the testing officer question the learner driver’s ability. It is best to drive with the flow traffic up to the speed limit unless there is reduced space or vision, then slow down as required.
You may hear stories that everyone fails for head checks or blind spots. While this is often true, the solution is not to look like a laughing clown at Luna Park while driving. You need to understand what you are looking at, then you can check the appropriate blind spot, the traffic and do observation checks for the situations presented. Testing officers are onto people who are looking just for show and will be really picky about observation errors for these applicants.
Learner drivers need to make safe decisions. We have all been in the situation of waiting to do a right-hand turn onto a busy road waiting for a gap (high risk of accident). This will be on the test too. You cannot be swayed by the aggressive driver four cars back honking the horn. If there isn’t an appropriate gap, then wait till one comes along. The testing officer would prefer the driver to wait for a safe gap than have a go at a gap that is not big enough. Remaining calm in this situation will show the testing officer maturity in your driving.
Sometimes things go wrong on the driving test. The car might be stalled or your reverse parking may be botched. Remember these two things – the testing officer is human, they might not have noticed the mistake and it is OK to make a couple of errors, often they are not marked as harshly as you might think.
It is most important the learner driver does not give up after the first mistake. Just take a deep breath, relax the grip on the wheel and carry on.
Getting Results
Thanking the testing officer regardless of the result will put them in a better mood for the next applicant!
If you are not successful on their first attempt, don’t argue with the testing officer about the result. There is every chance that you will end up with the same testing officer in the next attempt. That will make for a very quiet drive…

Driving Test Intricacies: The Test Car

There are many components to the driving test. Many of these driving test intricacies can put positive or negative impressions in the mind of the testing officer. In this post, we explore the details of the test car.

What car can be used for the driving test?

Service NSW does not provide a test car for learner drivers on the test day. However, the learner can take the driving test in any registered vehicle matching the licence class they are being tested for. This must be a vehicle that weighs up to a maximum of 4.5 tonne Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) and seats no more than 12 people. We, of course, do not recommend taking a moving truck to the test.

What will the testing officer be looking for?

The testing officer will check that all the brake and signal lights are working correctly, and have no cracked or broken lenses. This is to ensure the safety of the driver, the passengers and the other drivers on the road. A learner driver needs to be able to communicate properly on the road with correct signals during the driving test.

Other safety essentials include a clean and crack-free windscreen without chip damage, tyres that are not worn out and rims without any sharp edges from crash damage. Inside the car, the testing officer will check to make sure the seat belts are functioning properly.

How can the testing officer be helped to feel comfortable and safe in the car?

Having a half-eaten Happy Meal, the dogs breakfast (we mean that literally) and school textbooks that can fill a library in the back seat of the testing car is not the ideal way of impressing your testing officer. Yes, impressions do count. Make sure the car is clean and free of debris that may become a hazard in an accident. We recommend that it doesn’t smell like month old unwashed laundry either. Let’s make the testing officer feel comfortable when they enter the car.

Although a BMW for example may excite some testing officers, more often than not they will fear the learner may go over the speed limit. BMWs tend to do that to drivers… We recommend using a car that is less aggressive and places an emphasis on safety first.

What is the Trent Concierge?

The Trent Concierge is a driving test concierge service. Trent Driving School ensures that all the other variables are eliminated and the learner driver only concentrates on the task at hand: the driving test.

The Trent driver trainer will pick up the learner on the test day from home, school or work. The driver trainer will also warm up the learner during the drive to the testing location, and present them to the testing officer. At the end of the test the student will be driven back to their original location.

The Trent Concierge car won’t have rubbish floating around on the floor, or McDonald’s ready for the testing officer on the backseat – although we may want some to fill our stomachs before the test. Nor will the car have any safety concerns such as broken tail lights.

Most importantly, testing officers feel more at ease in our dual-control fitted cars, as they have a braking pedal on their side of the footwell.

Read more:

Why do people fail their Driving Test? (57)
We surveyed our trainers on what were the main causes of failing the driving test.
What was the number one response? Nerves.

How to Prepare (13)

The best way to manage your nerves on test day is to be trained to above the driving test standard. By working with a driver trainer early in the learning process, you will build safe habits into your driving. When you are under pressure your muscle memory will take over, so any bad habits that were ‘corrected’ in the days before the test won’t have had time to take root in your muscle memory and they will come back.
In the weeks leading up to the driving test, your trainer can put you through the Trent on Road Test (TORT). During this test you will be taken around a predetermined test route that is far more difficult than the driving test.
This way, you get used to being assessed. The TORT will also test what is habit and where weaknesses exist. It is just as important to practice being assessed as it is to practice your reverse parks and three point turns!
On the day of your test, your trainer will look after you with our concierge service. You will go for a short warm-up drive and be presented to the testing centre. Your trainer knows where to park, what paperwork is required, when to arrive and how to present the vehicle so that you don’t have to worry about anything.

Getting the Right Mindset

Get a good night’s sleep before the test, eat your normal meals and do something that takes your mind off the imposing test. Don’t overthink the event. When you are well prepared you can walk into the test with the mindset that you are going to show the testing officer how safely you can drive. Take a couple of deep breaths before moving off on the test and stay calm.

Don’t Give Up! (59)
Too many times we have seen students return from their test and the testing officer saying that they drove really well until they stalled on the hill start. Had the student just taken a deep breath and kept trying their best,  the minor control error would not have blown into a fail item for a poor decision at a roundabout. The testing officer is not expecting you to drive like Mark Webber, they are looking for you to drive safely.

Common Myths (58)
There is a misconception that all testing officers are evil grumps that enjoy watching you fail. This is not usually the case! Since the changes to Services NSW has been rolling out, the testing officers are of a much higher standard. They realise that it is in their interest to make you feel comfortable on your test. The testing officer will not try to trick you by asking you to do a turn where one is not allowed.
If you accidentally turn right when the instruction was to go left, it is not the end of the test.

What if you are not successful?

Not everyone passes first go. Plan your course of action before the test, are you going to re-book on the spot or online with your trainer at a later date? Before you attempt another test, have a couple of lessons with your trainer to work on the items that were not up to scratch the first time and go to the next test with more knowledge and skill. Sometimes you will learn more in defeat than in victory.
For more information about the driving test read: WHATS IN A DRIVING TEST?

The Safety Cushion

The Safety Cushion is the clear space drivers need to maintain around their vehicle to give reaction, manoeuvring or stopping room in any situation and at any speed.
Your Safety Cushion surrounds your car to the front, sides and rear,  this is your territory and you should stringently guard against others entering it.
As you drive, you will need to maintain your Safety Cushion by adjusting your speed or, your position on the road.
A Safety Cushion will give you more time to spot any hazards that may arise.
NOTES: The Safety Cushion is variable and will alter with speed and traffic conditions.
More space is needed between cars at 100km/h than at 20km/h, so your Safety Cushion will increase with speed.
To maintain an adequate Safety Cushion to the front you need to:

  • control your speed to suit the road and traffic conditions
  • keep a safe distance between your car and the vehicle in front

Other drivers may see your Safety Cushion as a clear space to move into. In this case, you will need to adjust your speed and reclaim your space.

L Trent Safety Tip | Blind Spots

Blind Spots

driving test

A blind spot is an area around the vehicle that cannot be directly observed by the driver while at the controls.
Blind spots exist on the rear and both sides of the car. There are also front blind spots created by the windscreen pillars.

Side blind spots are not eliminated by mirrors! Outside mirrors move the blind spot further from the side of the vehicle.

The sure and safe way to eliminate blind spots is to turn your head and look.

When driving, rear blind spots are checked by a quick glance over the shoulder.

You can work out the blind spots in your car by driving very slowly beside a parked vehicle and seeing the difference between mirror vision and reality.

Road Rules | Roundabouts

Rules for Roundabouts are among the most misunderstood road rules in NSW.
How many times do you see drivers waiting for cars to enter the roundabout?
Approaching a Roundabout – Drivers must use their indicator if they intend to turn left or right, or make aU-turn at the roundabout.
Entering a Roundabout – Drivers must slow or stop to give way to any vehicle already in the roundabout.
There is no requirement for drivers to signal when approaching the roundabout, if they are going straight ahead.
Have a look at this video to find out more:

LTrent Safety tip – Overtaking

Overtaking (60)

The most hazardous of all manoeuvres. On the open road, when crossing the centre line to overtake, the pulse rate of even the most experienced driver will increase.

Procedure for Overtaking 

  1. Gauge the speed of the vehicle ahead; don’t be too close.
  2. Gauge the distance to any oncoming vehicles – remembering it is almost impossible to judge their speed.
  3. Check your rear-vision mirror (watch for fast vehicles from the rear).
  4. Select the correct gear for good acceleration (if a manual car).
  5. Signal (check that your blind spot is clear).
  6. Start overtaking at least 4 car lengths before the vehicle ahead is reached.
  7. Accelerate hard, move out slowly.
  8. Tap the horn if necessary.
  9. Maintain side safety cushion.
  10. Move slowly back to the left when the overtaken vehicle is visible in the central rear mirror. Did another vehicle follow you out and around? If  so, leave room for it to move left.
  11. Slowly let the speed settle into the normal driving range.

Ignore any signals from other drivers for you to overtake – make the decision on your judgement.

Road Lines

  • Unbroken Lines: Never cross an unbroken line to overtake another vehicle. Obey them without question.
  • Broken Lines: Broken lines are not indication about the safety of overtaking another vehicle. The decision rests on your perception and judgement.

Speed and Speed Limits

Speed is the biggest single danger on NSW roads, contributing to about 40 percent of road fatalities each year.
The setting of speed limits plays an important part of efforts to reduce this statistic.
To stay safe on the road, it is important to understand:
• What is a speed limit
• Why there are different speed limits
• Why different speed limits are applied in different areas
What is a speed limit?
Speed limits indicate the maximum safe and, therefore, legal speed for vehicles under ideal conditions.
A speed limit is the maximum speed you are allowed to travel in a sign posted area but
Drivers should reduce their speed as road and weather conditions dictate.
Many drivers will see a speed limit sign, say 80km/h and drive at this speed regardless of the traffic or weather situation. If it’s rainy, dark and busy, driving at 65km/h may be a better idea.
There are three types of speed limits used in NSW:
Default speed limits
Signposted speed limits
Special speed limits based on vehicle and licence class
Default speed limits – 50 km/h in built-up areas and 100 km/h in non-built-up areas. These speed limits apply to roads in the absence of sign-posted speed limits.
Common speed limits in NSW:

School Zone Built-up Area Rural Area Highest Speed Limit
40 50100110

Why are there different speed limits?
There are number factors that determine the speed limit in any given area.
These include pedestrian activity, traffic controls and hazards.
The most important factor about speed limits is they take account of stopping distances in relation to the conditions that may be around.
Stopping Distances
It is important to know that different speeds have different stopping distances:

40 11.117 m8 m25 m
50 13.921 m13 m34 m
60 16.725 m18 m43 m
70 19.429 m25 m54 m
80 22.233 m32 m65 m
90 25.038 m40 m78 m
100 27.842 m49 m91 m
110 30.646 m60 m106 m

When driving we need to allow enough space between ourselves and other road users. We need to allow time to react and to brake.
A general rule is to allow 1.5 seconds for each making three seconds the minimum space needed between vehicles.
40 km/h
40km zones are usually found in areas with a high number of pedestrians such as school zones, road works, bus stops and high pedestrian activity areas.
With pedestrians about drivers will need to be able to stop the car very quickly should someone step out in front of the car.
At 40km/h, it will take on average thirteen meters to stop your vehicle. You also need to allow seventeen meters of reaction time.
You will need a total of 30 metres of space to stop your car at 40km/h.
School zones – in NSW school zones are usually operating 8:00am to 9:30am and 2:30pm to 4:00pm. However, some schools have different times so always check the signs. As well as being marked by signs, school zones are preceded by dragons teeth painted on the road surface.
Roadworks – will have temporary signage and may have a high number of people very close to the roads edge.
Bus stops – when buses are dropping off passengers and leaving the kerb, there will be flashing lights either side of the 40 sign on the back, meaning drivers cannot pass the bus at more than 40km/h. Many learners fail their driving test for passing a bus at more than 40km/h with the flashing lights on.
High pedestrian activity areas – more and more of these are being implemented and are found around shopping centres, train stations and busy high streets.
50 km/h
50km/h is the most common speed limit. This is the default speed limit for built-up areas in NSW and is found in built-up areas and on most suburban streets.
There will still be a high chance that you will encounter pedestrians in these areas along with frequent intersections and hazards.
Being the default speed limit, it is rarely signposted.
50km/h zone’s are vitally important for learner drivers sitting a driving test. If you can’t see any speed signs, then assume it’s a 50 km/h zone.
80 km/h
This speed zone is usually found on divided roads without driveway access in urban areas, undivided arterial roads on the fringes of urban areas and lower quality rural roads. These roads have significantly fewer hazards and pedestrians than lower speed zones, allowing safe driving at a higher speed.
The difference in stopping distance between 40 km/h and 80 km/h is significant.
80 km/h is double the speed but requires quadruple the braking distance.
100 km/h
This is default speed limit for non-built-up areas in NSW. Roads with this speed limit include divided rural roads, higher quality undivided rural roads and urban motorways. These roads will be free from most hazards.
Stopping distance at 100km/h is over 90 metres.
110 km/h
This is the highest speed limit in NSW. 110 km/h zones will only be found on high quality rural divided roads and non-urban motorways and freeways. These roads are free from most hazards found at lower speed zones. Curves in the road will be less pronounced, and vision will be good.
The more space and vision we have, the safer it is to drive at higher speeds. Crashes at speeds between 80 and 110 high a far higher risk of ending as a fatality.

L Trent Safety tip – Three-second Following Rule

Three-second Following Rule
A safe following distance varies with speed. To work out safe following distances with these variables would require a calculator. The problem is solved by working from another factor that is not variable: time. If time is the cushion, the following distance will automatically increase as the speed increases.
For safe driving, keep a cushion of 3 seconds between vehicles. This applies at all speeds. From the moment the leading vehicle passes a fixed object (a parked car, a light pole, etc.) 3 seconds should elapse before the following vehicle passes the same point. One easy way to calculate this period is to say “one thousand and one (1 second), one thousand and two (2 seconds), one thousand and three (3 seconds)”.
The following distance should be practiced until it becomes automatic at all speeds.

L Trent Safety tip – Be Seen in Traffic

Be Seen in Traffic
It is important that others are aware of you. Don’t drive where you are not visible to others (e.g. in blind spots, by ignoring block-outs).
Make sure others have time to see you. All movements should be commenced early and performed methodically.
The primary method of being seen is by stop and turn signals.

  • By eye contact you know whether you have been seen. Is that driver or pedestrian looking at you?
  • Attract attention, if necessary flash the headlights, tap the horn (develop a gentle tap on the horn).
  • When other drivers, through courtesy or to improve traffic flow, let you through or into the traffic line, acknowledge their actions. Give them a wave or nod in appreciation.
  • Although another driver may call on you, the decision to proceed safely is entirely yours.