Learner drivers in Queensland struggling to reach 100 hours of supervised driving
The teenagers’ claim ‘everyone else does it’ is not entirely true, but learner drivers who lie in their logbooks are getting away with it in Queensland.
John Morton, a driving instructor with 19 years experience and a representative of the Australian Driver Training Association, believes learners and their families are making fraudulent entries in their logbooks.
“I would say one in 10 or one in 15 learners are lying about the hours in their logbooks,” Morton said.
“You can tell it in their driving.”
However no fines for false or misleading logbook entries have been issued in the past 12 months according to a spokesperson from the Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR).
The Department processed over 52 thousand learner logbooks between September 2013 and August 2014.
“Less than six per cent of those logbooks were challenged due to inaccuracy of hours claimed,” the spokesperson said.
Morton said it is easy to spot those who claim more hours in their logbooks than have actually been spent in the driver’s seat.
“I had one kid who came to me with 90 hours in his book,” Morton said.
“In the space of 40 minutes in the car with me, he made 32 errors and I had to grab the wheel twice.”
Morton said DTMR fined some families for fraudulent log book entries in the first 12 months after the 100 hour requirement was introduced.
““The main reason for log books being returned is the hours haven’t been added up correctly.” John Morton from the Australian Driver Training Association
Now, most rejected log books are returned to learner drivers simply because of bad maths.
“The main reason for log books being returned is the hours haven’t been added up correctly,” he said.
Morton believes the majority of learner drivers and their families do the right thing.
“Not all supervising parents are prepared to lie for a driver’s licence,” he said.
Ursula, a single mother from Gordon Park, is teaching both of her teenagers to drive.
“I wouldn’t forgive myself if I lied and let my kid get her licence on only 60 hours, if a week into her provisional licence she had an accident and killed someone,” she said.
Yet Ursula has a friend who drives from Brisbane to the Gold Coast and back and “gives the mileage to her learner-driver daughter”.
This is a familiar story.
Elle, a nursing student at QUT, has her provisional licence.
The second youngest of four children said when she was learning her mother sometimes did the driving herself but still signed the logbook for her.
“We would visit my grandmother at Brighton but if I was too tired to drive home Mum would just do it for me and give me the hours,” she said.
“It’s really hard for a lot of my friends to get supervised driving, especially if their parents are divorced and especially once they are at university.
“Some people are good enough drivers and can pass the test after 50 hours,” Elle said.
Logbooks are likely to be rejected by DTMR if they contain too many corrections according to John Morton from the Australian Driver Training Association
Learner driver Georgia, 18, from Salisbury said she never lies about an entire journey but often adds on 10 minutes here and there.
“It depends on which parent is supervising,” she said.
“Dad always says ‘you have to do the time to claim it’ but mum is happy to say a trip took longer than it did.”
Education student Jake’s Dad lives in Sydney and his Mum has a back disease and can’t sit in the car for long periods, so Jake is also struggling to clock up 100 hours.
“All my hours have to be done with a driving instructor and that’s expensive,” he said.
The RACQ’s Lauren Ritchie said the state’s peak motoring group is comfortable with the current safeguards in place to determine logbook accuracy.
“The Department (DTMR) does rigorous testing to ensure the hours are not faked,” she said.
“People who go to great lengths to try and fudge those 100 hours won’t be getting away with it very easily.”
Dr Bridie Scott-Parker, research fellow at the University of the Sunshine Coast Centre for Accident Research, believes stories of learner drivers falsifying their hours are “urban legend”.
Based on recent small group interviews and focus groups with learner drivers, she said kids might brag at parties about making up their hours but in reality they don’t.
“They said it’s too hard because you’ve got to put too much information in the logbook,” she said.
Scott-Parker believes rather than targeting the learner drivers DTMR should focus on supervising parents who sign false entries in log books.
“Where there is falsification there need to be consequences for the supervisors,” she said.
“Maybe mum and dad don’t realise just how important it is the kids get those hours on the road.”
Scott-Parker said many parents just want to hurry their teenagers through the learner phase thinking “they’ll be ok”.
“I’ve struggled with them for many years to get them on the same page and get them to understand that the learner phase is when you develop safe habits, safe attitudes,” she said.
Since 2007 learner drivers in Queensland have been required to complete 100 hours of supervised driving and record the details in a log book.
The maximum penalty for providing false or misleading logbook entries is a fine of $6831.