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P Plater teenage drivers and their cars

P Plater Teenage drivers are deemed competent to drive on the road, however, they are STILL learning and there are sooo many things for them to learn. It’s an exciting time. It’s also a time for learning road safety, road rules – legal and the unspoken.

Last month my Miss 17 passed her driver’s license test and received her Provisional License. I was excited for her and filled with dread at the same time. Every parent of teens has felt it. They’re off, out there, on the roads, on their own, at other driver’s mercy. I’ve had my share of P plater ‘close calls’ too, and I won’t stereotype, however all have been roughly the same age and species. I’ve also driven with my Miss 17 when she was on her L’s and had a red P Plater ‘harass’ her on the highway (lesson, slow right down and let them disappear into the distance but memorise their rego first).

If you’re on the roads, remember P Platers are still learning – give them space. If you have a P Plater teach them respect and road courtesy along with the road rules.

Her first car – she paid cash for it

Then they save hard and buy their first car, organise their insurance and roadside assistance and are out driving around. We live on a peninsula and so Miss 17 is parent/self restricted to driving locally until she has completed a Defensive Driving Course. I’ve had good friends lose loved ones in car accidents in the blink of an eye and I will do whatever I can to never ever have to live that heart break. Anything I can do to prepare her a little more for life on the road, protecting herself and others, by driving defensively is a must, in my eyes.

Despite having driven in a car for around 17 years, most teens do not have a clue about the workings of a car (nor do a lot of adults for that matter). So many things to teach them (some from my mistakes.. like the time I FILLED the oil up in the car and had to drive it up and down the street for weeks to get the smoke to subside!). In addition to showing her physically where everything is and what to do I drafted the below list for her in case of times when she may need to be reminded or be too stressed to remember. It also has all the important details on it. I’ve attached it below should you wish to personalise it and print it out for your driving teens. The first one seems overprotective, but a few years back a friend was carjacked in Indooroopilly in Brisbane – probably one of the safest suburbs you can think of! The list is written with my Miss 17 in mind and female security, you should amend according to your P Plater.

It is the most exciting of times – all that freedom, for them and their previous parent taxi! It’s also the most worrying of times – and learning to trust that they will be okay and that they’re prepared for anything that might happen out there on the open road. My Miss 17 was previously a scout and their motto is: Be Prepared. And isn’t that our job as parents, to prepare them, and as they take flight, ensure they have as much knowledge and preparation behind them as is possible.

Drive safe everyone – my baby is now out on the road with you,


The List

Tips for driving and owning your own car

  1. Always lock the car once you’re inside and always drive with the doors locked.
  2. Before heading to your car, always have your keys out ready to go.
  3. This goes without saying, phone in the glove box so it’s not a distraction but so you can reach it if you need to pull over and use it without having to get out of the car.
  4. Fuel: Unleaded including E10. Fill up on days when it is cheapest, usually Tues to Thursday. Never let the fuel tank get below a quarter, lest you get dirt in the pipeline. There are free fuel apps to tell you where the cheapest petrol is nearby.
  5. Should you break down. Pull over to the side of the road, as far off the road as possible. Put your hazard lights on. If someone stops to help wind the window down just enough to tell them that you have RACQ on the way, thank you anyway.
  6. Call RACQ if you break down or get a flat tyre 13 11 11 and always stay in your car with the doors locked until they arrive. They’ll ask your rego number: xxx, xxx. (Most tyres are machine tightened these days and you’d be hard pressed to loosen them let alone get them off).
  7. Tyre pressure: This will be written on the tyre or in your manual in the glove box. Your car is 32 in the front and 35 for the back tyres.
  8. Accidents:
    1. Should you ever have an accident ensure you drive the car off the road if you can, hazard lights on, then swap details with the driver of the other vehicle including: Registration; Full name, phone number, license number and their insurance company. If they don’t stop, try to remember their registration plate. They can be traced that way.
    2. If the car is not able to be driven, then call RACQ for a tow.
    3. Insurance: You pay the excess (general $600 PLUS age excess $400 = $1000 when you’re at fault or the other driver does not have insurance). So, drive carefully, focussed and being observant leaving plenty of space between you and the car in front of you. Regardless of why, if you run up the back of someone, you’re at fault, vice versa if someone runs up the back of you. ALWAYS get the rego of the person in front of you if you do have an accident.
  9. Carry a bottle of water in the boot (or if the car uses coolant then spare coolant too) and oil in case the light comes on for oil or overheats.
  10. NEVER EVER open the radiator cap until the car has cooled down – hot coolant can explode out and burn you if you do. Ouch.
  11. Filling the oil does not mean FILLING the oil. If the oil light has come on put about a litre in then check the dipstick. Do this until it is at the right level.
  12. The lights on the dash mean something needs filling up or fixing. Look in your manual to see what it is referring to. Do not ignore the lights.
  13. Lights use fuses which you can buy for very cheap from Supercheap and replace yourself.
  14. Headlights and brakes will need replacing occasionally. Go to Supercheap, you can pay them to put them in for you (Usually costs you about $5 to $10 for the bulb and $10 to $15 to put the light in).
  15. If the brakes start to feel soft or not stop as quickly as they used to you will need to get them replaced. These are usually around $200 and need replacing every couple of years.
  16. Mechanic: We’ll find you a good local one for you to continue going to to build up a working relationship with. Try to get your car serviced as close to the suggested dates or kilometres as you can. This will help your car run better and for longer.
  17. Your P plates tell other drivers you are still learning. It makes them aware to give you space. Unfortunately, it’s also a red flag for dickheads – don’t let them rattle you. Stay focussed, give plenty of space and don’t be afraid to slow right down and let them disappear into the distance.

Important phone numbers in case you need it if phone goes flat etc:

Support person 1

Support person 2

Support person 3

Support person 4

RACQ road side assistance:  13 11 11    My rego number is:

Police/Ambulance/Fire: 000

Police Link (non-emergencies): 131 444


Insurer Phone number:

Policy Number:

Rego due:

The list does not cover everything but tries to cover the basics. Anything important I’ve forgotten or that you would add?

Have a great week, and enjoy being chauffer driven around by your P Plater – even if you’re relegated to the back seat by excited siblings (#justthisonce).


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