ACT - Changes to getting your licence - 2020

Written by Ben Ward


After a significant review process we understand that ACT Licencing rules will be changing on January 1st, 2020.

We think this is a great opportunity for existing customers to focus on their competencies and get your licence before the end of the year. The new rules will apply for new learners permits issued or renewed after Jan 1 2020.

 

All of the details are not fully released yet, however the link below will take you to the Justice and Community Safety Directorate release on the changes. Check out the details here:

Key Points:

ACT Graduated Licensing Scheme – 1 January 2020

Making our roads safer for new drivrs

Graduated Licensing Schemes (GLS) involve a staged approach to driver licensing, with restrictions and sanctions that are reduced as experience is gained.  Research supports this approach in addressing major crash factors such as age, inexperience, and risk-taking behaviour. 

From 1 January 2020, a range of changes will be implemented for learner and provisional drivers in the ACT.  The changes are not intended to make it more difficult to get a licence – the changes are designed to reduce the risk for our new and young drivers who are over-represented in road accidents and help them gain experience and confidence on the road in a staged way. 

What is changing on 1 January 2020?

A number of changes to the ACT Licensing Scheme for learner and provisional drivers will commence on 1 January 2020:

  • Required driving hours for learners:
    • If you are under 25 you must undertake a minimum of 100 supervised driving hours, including a minimum of 10 hours at night-time.
  • If you are 25 or older you must undertake a minimum of 50 supervised driving hours, including a minimum of 5 hours at night-time.
  • Introduction of a mandatory Hazard Perception Test prior to obtaining a provisional licence. The test will be delivered online and is available once you have held your learner licence for 3 months.
  • Introduction of a two staged provisional licence
    • a red P plate for the first 12 months (P1) with late night passenger restrictions. Exemptions will apply for employment and education purposes and for family members.
    • A green P plate for the remaining 2 years (P2). If you are 25 or older when you get a provisional licence, you will be a P2 for the entire 3-year provisional licence period.
  • Reduced demerit point threshold for learner drivers from 12 points to 4 points.
  • Removal of options for a provisional driver to increase their demerit point threshold of 4 points.

A total mobile device ban for all learner and provisional drivers commenced on 1 July 2019 and was the first stage of the reforms.

Further information is coming.  

ACT Accredited Driving Instructors

If you are an accredited driving instructor, you will still be able to assess and sign off a learner driver’s Competency Based Testing and Assessment (CBT&A).  You will also be able to sign off on required hours as either a driving instructor or driver supervisor: 10 hours with an ACT accredited driving instructor will count for a maximum of 30 required driving hours on a 3:1 ratio (i.e 3 recordable hours for every 1 hour driven). Every hour after that with a driving instructor, including from ACT or another jurisdiction, count as an hour.

Pre-learner

In order to be eligible for a learner licence in the ACT, you must be at least 15years and 9 months of age, and have successfully completed the mandatory pre-learner licence training course and Road Rules Knowledge Test. 

Q: What if I have completed the course and Road Rules Knowledge Test before 1 January 2020 but have not applied for a learner licence before that date?

A: If you are issued with your learner licence after 1 January 2020 you will fall within the new requirements for learner drivers.  A completed course and road rules knowledge test are valid for 2 years from the date of completion.

Learner drivers

From 1 January 2020, any person who is issued with a learner licence will be required to have completed the following to be eligible to obtain a provisional licence:

  • If you are under 25 you will have to hold a learner licence for at least a year.
  • Learners 25 and older will have to hold their learner licence for 6 months.
  • Completed the required driving hours.
  • Successfully completed a hazard perception test.
  • Successfully completed either a one-off driver assessment or completed the CBT&A modules administered by an ACT accredited driving instructor to the required assessment standards.

If you are issued with a learner licence after 1 January 2020, you will also be provided with a logbook that will help you keep a record of the new requirements, including driving hours and driver assessment.

The period for which a learner licence is issued will increase from 2 years to 5 years in consideration of the new requirements.

Q: What if I already hold a learner licence?

A: If you received your learner licence prior to 1 January 2020, you will be subject to the current requirements and will not be required to wait 12 months to apply for your provisional licence, nor complete the required driving hours or the Hazard Perception Test. However, once you obtain your provisional licence, you will be subject to the new requirements for provisional drivers. If you renew your learner licence after 1 January 2020, you will be subject to the new learner requirements with recognition of any competencies achieved and associated hours of driving experience.

Required driving hours for learners

Without an extensive amount of supervised driving, it is possible that learners will not experience driving under more challenging and complex situations until after obtaining their provisional licence. Evidence supports setting minimum driving hours including at night.

If you are under 25 you must undertake a minimum of 100 supervised driving hours, including a minimum of 10 hours at night-time.

If you are 25 and older you must undertake a minimum of 50 supervised driving hours, including a minimum of 5 hours at night-time.

The first 10 hours of driving with an ACT accredited driving instructor will count as 30 hours towards your record of driving. After that each hour with a driving instructor counts as an hour of driving.

Completion of the required hours can include attendance at approved courses. More information coming soon.

Hazard Perception Test

The Hazard Perception Test (HPT) is an online computerised test that measures a person’s ability to detect and respond to potentially dangerous situations on the road. Research shows the value of HPT in predicting subsequent crash risk, including some evidence that found those drivers who failed HPT at least twice were more likely to be involved in a crash compared to those who passed on their first attempt.

Persons issued with a learner licence after 1 January 2020 must successfully complete the HPT to be eligible for a provisional licence. You will not be able to complete the HPT until you have held a learner licence for 3 months.

Q: How do I complete the Hazard Perception Test?

A: The Hazard Perception Test will be delivered online, and the first attempt will be free. If you fail the HPT, the online system will tell you when you can next attempt the test. Any subsequent attempt will incur a nominal fee.

Q: When do I need to do the hazard perception test?

A: You may take the HPT at any time once you become eligible and once successfully completed it does not expire.

Provisional Drivers

The reforms commencing on 1 January 2020 will not apply if you currently hold a provisional licence. However, if you renew your provisional licence after 1 January 2020, you will be subject to the new requirements (with recognition of time current provisional licence held).

Provisional Licence Stages

Provisional licences issued after 1 January 2020 will continue to be issued for 3 years. However, if you are under 25 when you are issued with a provisional licence you will be subject to the following two provisional licence stages:

  • Stage 1 – P1 – 12 months – red P plates and late-night peer passenger restrictions
  • Stage 2 – P2 – 2 years – green P plates

If you are aged 25 or older when you are issued with your provisional licence you will go directly to the P2 stage. That is, you are not subject to the late-night passenger restrictions and are required to display green P plates for the duration of your provisional licence, which will still be 3 years.

It is recommended that drivers issued with a provisional licence prior to 1 January 2020 display green P plates in order to distinguish themselves from new provisional (P1) drivers. 

Late-night peer passenger restrictions

During the P1 stage of a provisional licence, you will be limited to one peer aged passenger between the hours of 11pm and 5am.

Exemptions will apply for employment (paid or voluntary) and education purposes and for family members. Exemptions will not apply for designated driving of more than one peer aged passenger at a time.

Research supports the effectiveness of night-time driving restrictions for young drivers. Young drivers are at a heightened risk of crashing as the dangers of distraction, challenging driving conditions and fatigue are enhanced at night. Research also indicates that transporting peer aged passengers has also been shown in many studies to significantly increase crash risk for young drivers, given the opportunity for distraction and encouragement for risk taking behaviour.

Provisional drivers 25 years of age and older are not subject to this restriction as an acknowledgement that risk reduces with age and cognitive development.

 

Mobile device ban

 

Since 1 July 2019, learner and provisional drivers have been subject to a full mobile device ban. So when you’re driving – it is illegal to text, use social media, use blue-tooth, handsfree or speaker mode. If you even touch your mobile device - to skip a song or talk-type message - you could lose up to $600, 4 demerit points and maybe even lose your licence.

Operating a vehicle requires your full attention. Using mobile devices while driving is distracting and can cause crashes that could result in injury or death. Any activity that distracts a driver while operating a vehicle is dangerous, and can result in lane deviations, greater fluctuations in speed and delays in driver reaction time. Studies also suggest that hands-free phone use is no safer to use while driving than hand-held devices. This is because cognitive distraction has the most significant impact on driving performance.

Q: What are the penalties for using a mobile device while driving?

A: The penalty for using a mobile device for messaging, social media use, accessing applications and internet is 4 demerit points and either a maximum court fine of $3,200 or an infringement notice penalty of $589. The penalty for otherwise using a mobile device (for example, making or receiving a call) is 3 demerit points and either a maximum court fine of $3,200 or an infringement notice penalty of $480.

Q: Can I still listen to music from my phone while driving as a learner or provisional driver? 

A: There is an exception for listening to music and podcast type audio, provided the device is secured in an approved holder and does not require interaction by any means, including by voice, while driving. We encourage drivers to put the device into Do Not Disturb mode to remove the temptation to touch it to skip songs or change apps.

Q: Can I listen to music with headphones or a portable speaker in the car?

A: The mobile device ban extends to any other wireless hand-held or wearable devices designed or capable of being used for telecommunication. This means you cannot touch the headphones or speaker while driving. 

Q: Can I use my mobile device for GPS while driving as a learner or provisional driver?

A: There is an exception for using a mobile device for GPS, provided the device is secured in an approved holder and does not require interaction by any means, including by voice, while driving. You should set up your GPS instructions before you drive.

 

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