Learning to drive is a major milestone in any young person’s life. A sign of increased independence and freedom, it’s a rite of passage that also comes with big responsibility. So what are some of the L-plate rules in NSW you need to know before you get behind the wheel?
Like all drivers, L-platers must follow the road rules but, in most states, including NSW, there are some special conditions that apply to learner drivers.1
“There are a number of additional rules learner drivers need to abide by due to their inexperience on the road,” says Dr Verity Truelove, senior research fellow at the University of the Sunshine Coast Road Safety Research Collaboration.2
“These rules will also be different across Australian states and territories. Some of these rules also apply to provisional 1 or provisional 2 drivers, so it is important to be aware of this when progressing through the licence stages.”
This article provides an overview of some rules specific to learner drivers in NSW and, while some rules do apply across all states and territories, it’s important to know the details of conditions relevant to your location. Check with your state or territory government for rules relating to learner drivers where you live.
You may also want to consider your car insurance coverage – policies differ across different insurance companies when it comes to covering learners, so you might want to check with your provider before starting lessons.
What are some of the rules for a learner driver in NSW?
Demerit points also apply to learner drivers. If, as an L-plate driver, you reach or exceed four demerit points in a three-year period, your learner licence will be suspended or disqualified.4
- Learner drivers must not drive above 90km/h or tow any other vehicle.
- A supervisor, who holds a full Australian driver licence, must be sitting in the passenger seat next to the learner while they’re driving.
- Learners must display L plates clearly on the front and back of the car and the letter L on the plate must not be hidden.
- Learner drivers are permitted to drive with passengers in the car; however, all passengers must sit in seats with seatbelts or child restraints.
- Learners must not have any alcohol in their system when driving. It is also illegal to drive under the influence of drugs.
- If you’re in Sydney, learners are not permitted to drive in Parramatta Park, Moore Park or Centennial Park.1
When it comes to mobile phone usage, learner drivers in NSW must not use any mobile phone while driving, or while their vehicle is stopped but not parked. This includes hands-free devices or loudspeakers.5
What are the rules for accompanying a learner driver in NSW?
Supervising a learner driver can be quite an experience – especially if the learner is your own child.
In NSW, free workshops are available that offer practical advice for supervisors on planning a practice session, using a logbook, giving constructive feedback and dealing with difficult situations during practice sessions.6
“I recommend parents use resources available to them to make sure they are prepared to supervise their learner driver,” says Truelove. “I also recommend that parents model good driving behaviour when they are in the car with their children.”
Remember, both a supervisor and a learner driver can be fined if the supervisor does not have a full Australian licence. It’s also illegal to supervise a learner driver if you have a blood alcohol level above 0.05, are under the influence of drugs or have illegal drugs present in your system.6
How do I get my L plates in NSW?
To get your L plates in NSW, you need to be 16 or older1 and pass the Driver Knowledge Test (DKT) and an eyesight test.7
What is the Driver Knowledge Test?
The DKT is a computer-based test and the first step to getting your learner driver licence. The test has 45 questions, is held at service centres around NSW7 and costs $49 each attempt to sit.8 To prepare for the DKT, read the Road User Handbook.9 You can also take a free practice test at any time online.10
How do I book a test?
You can book a time to take your DKT by phoning 13 22 13, visiting a NSW Service Centre or booking online. You must pay the test fee at the time of booking.11
What happens after I pass?
Once you pass, you’ll have your photo taken for your learner driver licence, which will be posted to you. You will receive a temporary paper licence and also have the option of getting a digital licence.12 You’ll also receive a logbook to record your driving practice.13
What happens if I fail the test?
If you’re unsuccessful, you can resit the test on the same day depending on availability.7 You can also book to sit it another time. You'll need to pay a $49 test fee each time you attempt the test.8
Are L-platers covered by insurance?
If a learner is driving a friend’s or family member’s car, they’re likely to be covered under that person’s insurance; however, this may incur a higher excess – it might be a good idea to check with your provider before starting lessons.
If they’re driving their own car, NSW L-platers will need a CTP Green Slip, which can be obtained from a range of insurers, including Youi.
Ready to begin your learner’s journey? Increase the likelihood of it being a smooth and successful one by keeping the above in mind, and remember to check in with Transport for NSW for any specific requirements.1
Article by guest writer Chelsea Spresser
1 Source: NSW Government – Learner driver licence
2 Source: University of the Sunshine Coast – MAIC/UniSC Road Safety Research Collaboration
3 Source: NSW Government – Safety and rules on NSW roads
4 Source: NSW Government – How demerit points work
5 Source: NSW Government – Mobile phones
6 Source: NSW Government – Supervising a learner driver
7 Source: NSW Government – Driver Knowledge Test
8 Source: NSW Government – Driver and rider licence fees
9 Source: NSW Government – Road User Handbook
10 Source: NSW Government – NSW Practice Tests
11 Source: NSW Government – Book a test
12 Source: NSW Government – NSW Digital Driver Licence
13 Source: NSW Government – Using your Learner Driver Log Book