No More Plates


Just to be clear, we have not decided to dispense with using dinner plates but have finally come to the end of attaching Provisional Driving plates onto the car. After four years of attaching yellow learner plates, then red provisional plates and finally green provisional plates, Bec has officially come off her Ps. So no more plates on the car. Hooray!

Learning to Drive in Queensland

Once Bec turned 16, she was able to sit a written test about road rules to obtain her learners. She had to be on her learners for at least a year, log a minimum of 100 hours of driving experience, including 10 hours of night driving, and display the yellow learner plates on the car whenever she was driving.


At this time, we were still living in a small town out west, where it takes about five minutes to drive from one side of town to the other, so it was quite a challenge to log 100 hours. Fortunately, we took regular trips to Toowoomba and an occasional trip to Brisbane, as well as one road trip down to South Australia to visit family, so she eventually accumulated the 90 hours of day driving. The night hours were a bit more difficult. We hardly went anywhere at night, so when we moved to Toowoomba, we would deliberately go for a night drive. I would check out the Toowoomba map, chart out a route that would take us all over town, and off we would go.

After a year and 100 hours were logged, Bec could sit her driving test. I was quite nervous about how she would go but fortunately she had a lovely examiner who cracked some jokes and helped her to relax. After passing the test on her first attempt, Bec then had to spend a year on a provisional license with a red P plate. At the end of that year, she had to pass an online hazards test and then it was onto the green P plates. It was supposed to be only one year on the green Ps, but of course the rules were changed and she had to do two years on the green P plates. There were some restrictions for P plate drivers, mostly about who could be in the car late at night, but this never really affected Bec.

And now finally that is all over and we are both relieved. No more shuffling plates on and off the car. So often I would go out in the morning to take Dan to Yellow Bridge- oh, have to take the plates off. Sometimes if we were all going somewhere together, Bec would ask if she could drive – oh, have to put the plates on. I am so glad that’s all finished. I think it is an excellent system for preparing young drivers. Ensuring that everybody is safe on the roads is extremely important – the road toll is bad enough as it is.

I am also thankful that I only had one child to teach to drive.  I really feel for those parents who have three, four or more children. Teaching a teenager to drive is a very stressful job. Bec is a very responsible driver, but in those early months the brake pedal on the front passenger side didn’t seem to work at all! Funny how we push our foot to the floor, even though we know there is no brake there at all. Just habit, or panic, I guess.

People are sometimes surprised when I say that Dan will never be able to drive. I’m sure he’d love to. He loves driving the dodgems at the show and the driving games on the Wii, but that’s as close to driving a car as he’s ever going to get. He probably gets a little frustrated when he sees Bec hopping in the driver seat and he never gets to have a go.  It’s not that Dan couldn’t learn how to drive a car. I think he’d be able to steer the car quite well. He’d probably be ok driving the ute around a paddock, but not on the road.


Dan would never pass the learners test to start with. While he knows some basic rules – red means stop, green means go – he has enough trouble crossing the road safely. Dan’s autism means that he can be very fixed in his routines and when he gets in “the zone”, he just goes. More importantly though, he lacks the ability to make those split-second decisions when the situation or routine changes or somebody else does the wrong thing. If the traffic light was green, he’d go. Regardless. Besides, having seen his driving technique on the Wii, I think it would be a lot safer for everyone if he stayed in the passenger seat!

People have suggested that driverless cars might provide an option for people with disabilities in the future. Maybe, but I don’t think I’d be willing to give them a go. I don’t fancy being in a car which drives itself. For now, Dan will just have to get used to being in the passenger seat and driving on the Wii and at the show. I’m just relieved that I can  hop in the car and not have to worry about taking the plates off. 

2 thoughts on “No More Plates

  1. Thank you, Karen. It’s always fascinating to learn about how things common to everyone are handled in other countries, e.g., learning to drive. I’ve driven in Europe fairly extensively as well as several Commonwealth countries so the whole “driving on the left” custom is no big deal, but what threw me off where the icons which have NO language attached.
    You probably think certain icons are so self-explanatory that no additional information is needed. Not so. The first time I saw this sign:


    I looked at my wife and said: “Must be the sign for the bathroom and the poor guy obviously has diarrhea.”

    As we learned later the sign is simply the EU version of an Exit sign. I’m sure Yukia Ota, the Japanese designer who came up with the “running man” logo in 1979, thought that everyone would easily be able to tell what the logo meant (see:, but I’m guessing that we Americans continue to confound expectations.

    The one thing which I am compelled to comment on is how impressed I have been with the Victoria TAC campaign, and especially the TAC 20 year retrospective which launched on December 10, 2009. In fact, the 5 minute montage was so effective (some might say “disturbing”) that I have a reminder on my calendar each December to send out an email to 139 of my closest friends, clients & relatives with a link to the video. I don’t know if my emails have done any good but I would like to think that at least one person may have thought twice about drinking and driving over the holidays.
    In any case, BIG time kudos to the Victoria TAC and their incredibly powerful videos which I am >100% positive have saved lives. I wish more states in the U.S. followed TAC’s example.

    Paul Schoff

    Sent from my iPhone

    Paul J. Schoff, Esq.
    Schoff Law Offices
    7907 Navajo Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19118
    (W) (610)703-3249


    • Hi Paul, nice to hear from you. I had a giggle at the exit sign. I could quite understand your initial interpretations of the sign. I might have thought the same too. I am not that familiar with the Victorian road safety campaign, but I think every state in Australia is taking road safety, especially drink driving and speeding, very seriously. Unfortunately, people often need to have very graphic reminders of the consequences of their actions to change their behaviour.


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