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Required hours of practice for learner drivers: a comparison between two Australian jurisdictions.

Research paper by Lyndel L Bates, Barry B Watson, Mark M King

Indexed on: 26 May '10Published on: 26 May '10Published in: Journal of Safety Research



Abstract

This study considers whether requiring learner drivers to complete a set number of hours while on a learner license affects the amount of hours of supervised practice that they undertake. It compares the amount of practice that learners in Queensland and New South Wales report undertaking. At the time the study was conducted, learner drivers in New South Wales were required to complete 50 hours of supervised practice while those from Queensland were not.Participants were approached outside driver licensing centers after they had just completed their practical driving test to obtain their provisional (intermediate) license. Those agreeing to participate were interviewed over the phone later and asked a range of questions to obtain information including socio-demographic details and amount of supervised practice completed.There was a significant difference in the amount of practice that learners reported undertaking. Participants from New South Wales reported completing a significantly greater amount of practice (M=73.3 hours, sd=29.12 hours) on their learner license than those from Queensland (M=64.1 hours, sd=51.05 hours). However, the distribution of hours of practice among the Queensland participants was bimodal in nature. Participants from Queensland reported either completing much less or much more practice than the New South Wales average.While it appears that the requirement that learner drivers complete a set number of hours may increase the average amount of hours of practice obtained, it may also serve to discourage drivers from obtaining additional practice, over and above the required hours.The results of this study suggest that the implications of requiring learner drivers to complete a set number of hours of supervised practice are complex. In some cases, policy makers may inadvertently limit the amount of hours learners obtain to the mandated amount rather than encouraging them to obtain as much practice as possible.