Confusion has reigned over driving lessons since Victorian police issued a fine to a 17 year old learner-driver in early April, and then withdrew it a few days later. The big question is: Can L-platers still have driving lessons during the COVID-19 crisis?
Now as states and territories are mostly easing restrictions, as per the government’s three step plan, you might be wondering how that affects you and your driving-age teens. Or, you might be a later-in-life learner keen to know when you can secure your road-bound freedom.
Learning to Drive During the Pandemic: Yes or No?
The ease in restrictions is now seeing most areas of Australia open up their travel rules to allow recreational travel – including attending driving lessons and driving practice.
In some jurisdictions, residents are now able to travel anywhere they want within their state/territory and even interstate. For whatever reason #cuecheering
It’s good news for lessons, however it might still be bad news for testing – depending on where you live. If not in quarantine or lockdown, learner drivers can continue racking up hours in anticipation of tests but many will have more time to prepare whether they like it or not.
Tests were once suspended in every state/territory aside from NT, unless considered a ‘priority test’. That’s not the case now and things are changing all the time.
We recommend you check with your state transport service to see what you can and can’t do. Make sure you’re travelling within the law or you might find yourself in strife!
Private driving lessons
There doesn’t appear to be any clear guidelines echoed across all states and territories – regardless, it will fall in line with rules and regulations around travel.
If you can’t get a definite answer from your state or local transport service, you’ll be on the safe side if your private driving lesson practice is gained during ‘essential travel’. For example, to work, education, medical care and grocery shopping.
Driving lessons with an instructor
Thankfully, in most areas, learner drivers can keep booking these lessons and getting the driving experience they need. The sessions do require close contact with an instructor though, so have an honest conversation about how each party will help safeguard the other’s health.
It’s important to remember this service should only be accessed if you’re well, and not showing any symptoms relating to coronavirus. The driving instructor should be paying the same courtesy.
Lessons or not, to keep yourself healthy while driving read our tips on how to avoid COVID-19 when on the road.
Choosing a Driving Instructor During COVID-19
When choosing a driving school look for businesses that are open and transparent about their response to COVID-19. Customers’ health and safety should be top priority.
The school’s website should state clearly what precautions their business is taking, including in-car safety and cleanliness measures. Make sure you get the answers to these questions:
- How are they disinfecting their car and keeping you safe while you’re driving together?
- Are they leaving windows open and either not using air conditioning or ensuring it’s locked on ‘fresh air’ settings?
- Do they thoroughly clean all touched surfaces after every lesson?
- Are they strongly committed to regular hand washing?
- How are they enforcing social distancing measures within their business, outside the lesson environment?
Also check for any restrictive payment options. For example, can you pay online rather than needing to go into their office? Will they honour any pre-paid lessons that need to be postponed should restrictions tighten again?
Maintaining social distancing where possible, as well as common sense precautions and sound practices, will help keep you safe during this time. We recommend you also avoid touching your face, wear a face mask and carry and use sanitiser often.
Protecting You on the Road: Roadside Assistance
We’ve seen a spike in people needing roadside assistance during coronavirus, due to using their car less often.
Now isn’t the time to stop taking care of your car. And even though the driving lessons will help keep your car’s battery charged you still need to keep it well maintained and regularly serviced so you don’t run into trouble.
Whatever your motoring situation, it’s always a good idea to have expert backup ready and waiting for on-road emergencies.
Plus, if the learner driver in your life is your teen, when they’re ready to buy their first car, you’ll have peace of mind knowing they won’t be left stranded.
Over to You – Driving Lessons During COVID
Has your teen been itching to start driving again? Is it you who’s waiting to get your P plate to freedom? Do you have any other tips on keeping safe during the pandemic? We’d love to know.