Queensland learner drivers can continue accruing hours during coronavirus pandemic

Young drivers can gain hours in their local neighbourhoods.

Learner drivers have been given the go-ahead to continue accruing hours during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic provided they only drive around their local neighbourhoods.

The new guidelines from the Department of Transport and Main Roads permit learner drivers and their supervisors to gain hours in their local area or when undertaking essential travel.

If drivers are caught outside their neighbourhood when not undertaking essential travel, they face a $1300 fine from Queensland police.

A TMR spokesperson said while learner drivers could continue to earn their 100 hours’ driving requirement, they needed to adhere to the current Chief Health Officer’s Health Confinement, Movement and Gathering Direction.

The direction outlines Queensland’s Home Confinement Requirements and the “permitted purposes” for leaving one's home, including:

  • To obtain food or essential goods or services
  • To attend medical treatment or health care services
  • To engage in physical exercise
  • To perform work or volunteering in an essential business
  • To visit another person’s residence (in accordance with current guidelines)
  • To visit a terminally ill relative or attend a funeral
  • To provide care to an immediate family member
  • To attend court or comply with a court order
  • To attend an educational institution
  • To assist with or participate in an investigation or other action by a law enforcement authority

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The updated guidelines come after TMR’s decision to suspend all practical driving tests from 28 March for at least three months.

“Queensland learner drivers can continue to earn their 100 hours’ supervised driving requirement, despite the suspension of practical driving tests,” a TMR spokesperson said. 

“However, we recommend this driving is done locally, and recommend learners incorporate it into trips for essential travel including driving to and from work, a local health service or the grocery store.

“Learner drivers and their families, like all Queenslanders, should adhere to the latest health advice. We recommend only one licensed family member or guardian accompany the learner driver and continue to observe and monitor all health directives. 

“As the COVID-19 response evolves, there could be further restrictions and all drivers – learners or licensed – will need to be aware of any changed conditions.”

River Hills resident Tony Holland who is teaching his daughter Siena to drive, said he was thankful for the clarification and being able to provide lessons in his local neighbourhood outside of essential travel.

“The problem with only being able to accrue hours during essential trips is that most shopping centres and medical facilities are only a short drive away,” Mr Holland said.

“Even if I was to take Siena on an essential trip, it would rack up maybe 20 minutes for her and would take her well over a year to get her 100 hours at that rate.”

Mr Holland said he understood sacrifices must be made amid the COVID-19 pandemic and thanked TMR for creating some “wiggle room” for learner drivers.

“I took Siena for a drive yesterday because there were fewer cars on the road and it seems like a much safer time for them to practice,” he said.

“There is barely any traffic and It made it a lot easier for her to merge and practice manoeuvres because there were fewer people in a hurry.”

RACQ Chief Communication Officer Paul Turner said there had been a lot of confusion about how and if learner drivers could accrue hours.

“After seeking clarification from TMR, the advice is that learner drivers can go out and get their hours up, but they must stay in their local area,” Mr Turner said.

“This doesn’t mean you can take a big road trip or travel too far away from home, as you could still be fined $1300 by police, unless it’s essential travel.”

Person learning about road rules online