Passing your Driving Test (PDA)

Let’s be honest. It’s not easy to pass.  Look across your circle of friends and classmates. How did they all go? The statistics don’t lie.

If you see a Driving School advertising a “90% (or more) first time pass rate” do a bit of extra research.


Your chances of passing can depend on a number of factors.  How many hours of practice you’ve done, the quality of that practice, whether you’ve been taught correctly, how much driving experience you’ve had in the Joondalup test area, knowledge of speed limits (and sticking to them), awareness of the location of stop signs/lines, your attitude, your aptitude, whether you’ve studied and understood the road rules properly, your nerves on test day, your ability to concentrate for the full duration of the test, the behaviour of other drivers and pedestrians that you encounter during your test, your competence in all potential parking manoeuvres – the list goes on and on!!

Your driving instructor has a good idea of whether or not you’re “test ready”.  Instructors can compare you against hundreds of other learner drivers that they’ve taught and would have good idea of where you rank, and therefore whether your level of skill and knowledge as a driver makes you a reasonable prospect of passing. Parents often insist on pushing their child into the PDA because they believe their child is a “good driver”. That alone doesn’t constitute a valid reason to attempt the PDA if the instructor deems that the learner isn’t “test ready”.  It costs a lot of money to sit the PDA. Driving Schools generally charge between $130 and $190 for a lesson and test combination package.  On top of this, every attempt at the PDA (after an unsuccessful first attempt) requires payment of an $87 fee to the Department of Transport before being able to re-book.  So repeating the PDA after failing is going to cost you between $217 and $277 !!

So the moral of the story is that there are no “short cuts” to getting your licence.  Your instructor will have an informed opinion on whether or not you are “test ready”.  Take that advice on board because attempting the PDA too soon will be like throwing money down the drain – money that could have been used to fund several extra lessons before attempting the PDA at a more appropriate time.

But in order to PASS the test, you first need to START the test!  Here are a few of reasons why the test might not go ahead:

  • Incorrect, unsigned or incomplete log book.  This occurs all the time so you need to pay attention to detail!
  • Hazard Perception Test not completed (not applicable for international licence conversions)
  • Unroadworthy car (usually brake lights, indicators or tyres)
  • Unlicenced car (usually overdue registration)
  • No car! No, the Department of Transport DO NOT have cars on standby just waiting for you to do your test! But unfortunately some people turn up unprepared for their test completely unaware of this fact.

Having got past the paperwork and vehicle checks, there are many reasons why a candidate might fail the PDA.

Three of these reasons are largely within the driver’s control:

  • SPEEDING! Most streets in Joondalup are 50 kilometres per hour (even the dual-carriageway Grand Boulevard!) and the ever present roadworks are usually 40 kilometres per hour.
  • Failing to COMPLETELY STOP at Stop Signs/Lines!  BEWARE: when attempting a U-turn at an intersection you need to pay close attention to the white painted STOP LINE on the road as you might not notice the STOP SIGN which will be facing the other way and is often several metres back from the corner! Regents Park Rd in Joondalup is a prime example (but there are many others)!
  •         Not being familiar with road rules. i.e. not properly reading (and re-reading) the Department of Transport’s ‘Drive Safe’ book. Driving is a serious business and you should approach it with the correct ‘adult’ attitude. If you attempt the test without having studied the theory (in the Drive Safe book) as well as properly learning the practical side of driving, and asking lots of questions along the way, then you are almost definitely going to fail your PDA!  The Department of Transport assessors are only doing their job, and if you demonstrate in the PDA that you don’t know the road rules they simply can’t let you loose on the roads with a Driver’s Licence.

Other reasons include:

  •         NERVES!!!  (Try to get a good night’s sleep and prepare as you would for any exam) – and bring a bottle of water.
  •         Failing to look left at T junctions (both on the road and in car parks) – a really common one!
  •         Changing or cutting across lanes in a two lane roundabout
  •         Turning from the wrong lane in a roundabout
  • Changing lanes during a turn at traffic lights when there are two lanes marked for turning right or left
  • Parking across a driveway, within a metre of a painted fire hydrant ‘H’ marking or on yellow No Stopping (No Parking) lines
  • Stopping beyond the thick solid white line at traffic lights
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road – another common one – yes, REALLY!
  • Making a right hand turn across the path of oncoming traffic at intersections
  •         Getting too close to parked cars when driving along a street.  You should aim to be 1.5 metres from the cars if possible.
  • Failing to give way to a pedestrian in a situation where the pedestrian has ‘right of way’. If the pedestrian has ‘right of way’ and can safely step onto the road, you must attempt to make eye contact and wait for them to cross the road. If it’s a ‘stand-off’ situation where the pedestrian refuses to proceed despite being able to safely cross the road, you must continue to wait for the pedestrian and advise the assessor that from your perspective you can’t proceed without breaking the law. Don’t ever take the law into your own hands or you will likely fail.
  •         Waving a pedestrian onto the road! DON’T DO IT – EVER!  It must be completely the pedestrian’s decision to step onto the road. Waving them onto the road could put them into serious danger.
  • Turning right at traffic lights without a green arrow – but not waiting until completely safe to turn (i.e. 100% safe)
  •         Following another car into a traffic light intersection when turning right without a green arrow.  Only one car at a time is allowed out there.
  •         Failing to give way to an oncoming vehicle when passing a parked car.
  • Being unable to successfully complete a parking manoeuvre
  • Failing to give way when required at intersections and roundabouts
  • Getting too close to a parked car when parking, or when leaving a parking bay (parallel parking and reverse parking)
  • Changing lanes dangerously. You must check your Mirrors, Indicate and check the appropriate Blind spot before commencing a move into another lane. (Think MIB “Men in Black”, or MILO (the drink) – for Mirrors, Indicate, Look Over)
  •         Failure to give way to an emergency vehicle driving under “lights and sirens”.  There is a police station, ambulance depot, major hospital and there are always fire alarms going off in and around Joondalup.  You need to know what to be mindful of (i.e. the distant or close sound of sirens or the sight of flashing lights), and what to do in these circumstances.
  •         Taking both hands off the wheel while the car is in motion (e.g. to adjust your hair, pull up your sleeves, or “talk with your hands”)
  • Being unable to unlock the car!
  •         Trying to start the engine when not in ‘Park’ (automatic only) and being unable to resolve the issue
  •         Failing to start the car before attempting to drive away! The car won’t go when you press the accelerator. But seriously, if you can’t resolve this issue quickly, are you really ready to sit the PDA?
  •         Starting the car without being seated in the driver’s seat (when doing pre-checks of indicators, brake lights, etc)
  • Failing to use mirrors and indicators correctly, and not looking around properly before and during reversing
  • Driving when the windscreen is fogged up – you need to know how to use the heater /AC / demister controls
  •         Holding up the test by waiting excessively when there are multiple opportunities to safely proceed (e.g. at intersections, etc)
  •         Failing to successfully complete a parking exercise (e.g. a reverse parallel park) when a simpler option (e.g. a forward park) may have been more sensible and easier
  •         Entering a blocked intersection or causing a blockage by following another car into an intersection.  This can occur, for example, at a green traffic light in very heavy traffic or when performing a ‘hook turn’ or a ‘U-Turn’ behind another vehicle that is attempting the same manoeuvre
  •         Interfering with the movement of other traffic while performing a U turn.
  •         Driving into an already occupied safe area between the two carriageways when attempting a right turn from a T-junction onto a dual carriageway.  Only one car at a time is allowed in this area.
  •         Failure to give way to a bus when it’s indicating that it’s leaving a bus bay
  •         Crossing over a solid white line to pass a temporary obstacle (such as a car in the process of parking or a queue of vehicles in the left lane waiting at traffic lights). In these cases the obstacles are only temporary and you need to wait for them to clear.
  •         Driving up the kerb when running out of room when performing a u-turn.  You must stop short of the kerb and reverse back before maneouvring the car correctly to resolve the issue.
  •         Driving into a dead-end street and being unable to navigate back out again without assistance from the assessor
  •        Making a mistake when parking the car at the end of the test. e.g. failure to look correctly before entering the bay or failing to give way to an oncoming car.
  •        Repeatedly making the same mistakes across multiple sections of the driving test.  For example repeated failure to use mirrors when driving or a failure to look around when parking, repeatedly failing to signal (indicate) or repeatedly taking bad paths on corners or in low speed manoeuvres.
  • Any other reason that causes the assessor to intervene to avoid a crisis or potential crisis

… and many more.  It’s a long list and it grows all the time as candidates find additional ways to sabotage their PDA!!

How do we minimise the risk of making these mistakes? The answer is simple – PRACTICE, PRACTICE AND MORE PRACTICE!!

… but not just any old practice that reinforces bad habits.  At the risk of being seen as trying to promote our industry, there is simply no better investment than getting lessons with a qualified instructor as early as possible in the learning process.  Whether you then choose to continue with more lessons, or go and do most of your hours in the family car with Mum or Dad, you will be more likely to be reinforcing the correct habits.  Some people come to us just a couple of weeks (or sometimes days!) before their PDA “to learn how to park”.  What we often find is that they may have been driving incorrectly from the start.  They may have serious issues with steering, observation, indicating or other safety matters, and they may be unfamiliar with the characteristics or peculiarities of the potential test routes.

We’ve even seen a parent-instructed learner who, just prior to their PDA, was driving an automatic car (accelerator and brake) with their left foot. How did it get to that stage? They had been driving for more than six months with multiple family driving supervisors, but nobody had noticed.  It was picked up immediately in the first few seconds of their first paid driving lesson – but only two weeks before their booked PDA.  Another parent trained driver had been braking with their left foot without being noticed!  The parent themselves had previously completed an advanced driving course but still overlooked the obvious technique error.

It can be virtually impossible in the limited available time to prepare an improperly trained learner to the required standard – often with a predictable result in the PDA.

Driving Lessons in Joondalup CBD and surrounds

So having established that you need lessons, you should always aim to polish your driving in between lessons if possible.

Here are a few video clips to help.  Simply click on the links to view. They should be of benefit to both you and your supervisor.

Please bear in mind that these are only examples.  The actual content of the exercises, the location chosen and any instructions given by the assessor in the PDA can vary widely.  You need to get as much practice as you can so that you can successfully perform the manoeuvres anywhere, regardless of whether it’s a familiar location or not:

 … and many more. 

Click here to search for ILUKA Driving School on YouTube!!! … and please subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Training the Trainer (a quick refresher lesson for parents!)

So often we are contacted by learners or their parents and asked to refine their parking skills just prior to a booked PDA.  Unfortunately, what we often find is that parents have been teaching their child incorrectly from the outset.  This often involves an inefficient steering technique based on the old urban myth of “never crossing your hands”. Parents are also often unaware of the correct sequence of actions for lane changes, merging, moving away, and a variety of other things.

So how do you get the best “bang for your buck” from driving lessons?  The answer is to train the parent properly in the first instance!

ILUKA Driving School offers 90 minute Train the Trainer sessions to reacquaint parents with the way that they should have been driving for all those years and allow them to pass on correct driving advice to their children.  These sessions are basically a “cook’s tour” of the Joondalup test area highlighting areas of interest and tricks and traps for the unwary.  The parking exercises are also demonstrated, road rules emphasised and the format of the driving test explained.

Parents are not expected to drive but to merely come along as a passenger so that they can take in as much information as possible.

For a relatively small outlay of $90 for 90 minutes, parents can equip themselves with much of the required knowledge to teach their child properly and potentially save a bundle of money in the process.

So why do we offer this service if it potentially costs us business?  Because it means that you hand us over a better driver when you come back and ask us to polish your child’s driving prior to the PDA, but more importantly it means that your child will be a safer driver when they get through the PDA. We can refine their skills rather than going back to basics.

Remember, each time a candidate fails the PDA the additional cost of resitting the test through a driving school along with the Department of Transport’s $87.90 re-sit fee will in most cases exceed $200, or even as high as $277.90 with some of the more expensive schools!  Go through that process a few times and it will leave a big hole in your bank balance! Not to mention the sometimes long delays in getting another suitable PDA booking date/time!

Be proactive and financially savvy and book a Train the Trainer session today!


The toughest places to pass your driving test in Perth

Have a read of the following article.  Rather than scaring you with the low first time pass rates across the State, what the article highlights is that there is no substitute for good preparation. Remember the 5 P’s – PROPER PREPARATION PREVENTS POOR PERFORMANCE! – or words to that effect!

What about the advertised pass rates of 90% or even 100% ???

So how is it that some driving schools are able to advertise 90% or even 100% pass rates? That’s a very good question. While it’s obviously true that the quality of the teaching will influence overall pass rates, such rates would appear to be unattainable over the long term given that the majority of candidates are teenagers with only 50 to 100 hours of of driving experience.  If driving schools suggest these types of pass rates, it would be worth asking them to clarify the basis of their statistics – as what they might actually be saying is that most, but definitely not all, of their students attempting the PDA do “eventually” pass.  This might be on one of many subsequent attempts after failing the first time and might not even be as a student of their driving school, with some learners moving from one driving school to another or attempting the test in a private vehicle.  For many, the journey is a case of preparing sufficiently well and being able to demonstrate driving to the required standard first time, but for others – and even some of the better learner drivers – the path to passing the PDA can be one that is hampered by minor errors along the way resulting in multiple unsuccessful attempts. So don’t just take advertised pass rates at face value – dig a bit deeper.  If it sounds too good to be true – do your own research!

At ILUKA Driving School we won’t kid you into thinking that passing the PDA is easy and we won’t try to baffle you with statistics.  We recognise that a multitude of factors can derail even the best of learner drivers under the pressure of test conditions.  But if you have the right attitude and don’t let your ambition get ahead of your ability, we can help to ensure that you tackle the PDA when you are good and ready.  There are no winners if you fail your PDA – there is disappointment all round for the learners, parents and instructors alike – along with the cost, inconvenience and stress of having to re-book and re-sit the test, so the right level of preparation is vital to set you up to give you the best possible chance of success.


Indicator controls on the right or left?

If you’re learning to drive with your parents, it makes sense to engage an instructor whose car has its indicators on the same side of the steering wheel as your family car.

The vast majority of cars in Australia have their indicator stalk on the right hand side of the steering column, with those numbers boosted by high volume brands like Toyota, Mazda, Nissan, Hyundai and Kia.  Most European cars, however, have the indicator stalk on the left meaning that the wiper and headlight controls are also on the opposite side. It can be very confusing and difficult to deal with, particularly if you are regularly swapping between cars with opposite indicator/wiper controls.

We strongly recommend to learner drivers that they have lessons in a driving school car where the indicator controls are identical to their family car. Doing otherwise makes for a very difficult driving experience – one which even the most experienced driver can have trouble dealing with.

RIGHT: Toyota, Hyundai, Kia, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Suzuki, Nissan, etc

LEFT: BMW, Mercedes, VW, Mini, Renault, Peugeot, etc

There are plenty of driving schools to choose from – most cars have indicators on the right, but a few have them on the left.  Just make sure you choose a reputable business (preferably using word of mouth referrals) and factor in the most appropriate car for your situation.