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The structure of the learner licence affects the type of experiences novices gain during this phase: Examples from Queensland and New South Wales
Newly licensed drivers have a higher crash risk when compared with any other group of drivers. Graduated driver licensing, with learner, provisional and open licence stages, is one countermeasure demonstrated to reduce this crash risk. The objective of this study was to examine the self-reported behaviours and experiences of learner drivers in two Australian states with different learner licensing requirements: Queensland and New South Wales. Telephone interviews were conducted with 392 participants who were recruited from driver licensing centres immediately after they passed their practical driving test and obtained their driver’s licence under the former driver licensing systems in Queensland and New South Wales. This research identified that the behaviour of learner drivers in both states was very similar, although it did differ on measures that the driver licensing system was likely to influence including the frequency with which L plates were displayed and completion of a log book. The paper also provides information on how learners organised their practice with learners in Queensland appearing less likely to deliberately structure their practice when compared with learners in New South Wales. This research suggests that much of the driving of learners in Queensland occurs on an ad-hoc, unplanned basis. As a result, licensing authorities need to carefully consider how they structure their licensing system in order to positively influence learners’ driving experiences.