Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.s)
Driver Training & Licensing - Zipper's Driving School
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FAQ's: Driver Training in the NT
Where can I find the latest information on licensing, car registration, the demerit point system. etc?
What do I need to study to pass the theory test for an NT Learner's licence?
How long can I be on my NT Learner's licence? How do I renew it?
How long does the NT Provisional licence go for?
Can I carry passengers while learning to drive?
What type of vehicle can I drive on an NT class "C" (car) learners, provisional or full licence?
Can I drive a truck on an NT car licence?
How do I get a motorcycle licence?
Do driving instructors have a code of practice?
What are the driving conditions on an NT Learner's Licence?
What are the driving conditions on an NT Provisional Licence?
Where do I get L-plates and P-plates?
What is the System of Vehicle Control?
FAQ's: Your Practical Driving Test
Where can I get information on the NT's practical driving test?
Is the driving test hard? Do people fail their test often?
How do I arrange my driving test through the DTAL program?
How do I get a car licence without going through DTAL?
Can I do my driving test in an automatic car?
How do I set up the poles to practice the reverse parallel park in my own car?
FAQ's: The DTAL (Driver Training And Licensing) Program
Where do I find out about the DTAL Program?
What are the advantages of learning to drive through DTAL?
How do I arrange for my DTAL driving lessons?
What is Competency Based Training & Assessment (CBT&A)?
What is the difference between an assessment and a test?
How many driving lessons will I need?
Why is my driving instructor hard to get on the phone?
Can I change to a different DTAL driving instructor?
FAQ's: The DriveSafe NT Program
Information contained on this page is presented in good faith - I try to keep it as accurate and up-to-date as possible but I cannot guarantee this - it's a lot of work, and rules & regulations change from time to time.
Make use of the list of links above to go to authoritative sites.
Opinions expressed on this site are that of the writer only and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of others.
NT licensing, registration, the demerit point system, etcThe NT Transport Group web site (see list of links above) has the latest information on this, as well as road reports, transport safety, public transport, reporting faults (roads, cycle paths, traffic lights etc) and others.
It's a very informative web site and has a search facility.
What do I need to study to pass a theory test for an NT Learners Licence?NT Road User Handbooks are obtainable from Motor Vehicle Registry offices.
The Handbook is also viewable as *.pdf files on the NT Transport Group's website (see list of links above).
If you have difficulty with your studies, Zipper's Driving School offers an L's Test Tuition service.
How long can I be on my NT Learner's Licence. How do I renew it if necessary?As long as necessary. NT Learner's licences expire after 2 years but can be renewed by passing a written test in NT road law at a Motor Vehicle Registry office.
If you have difficulty with your studies,Zipper's Driving School offers an L's Test Tuition service.
How long does the NT Provisional licence go for?After 2 years and provided that your licence hasn't been suspended, the "P" condition on your licence is removed and you go onto a full car licence.
Your ZBAC (Zero Blood Alcohol) condition will continue for another year or until you reach the age of 25, whichever is sooner.
The NT licensing system is currently under review, and it is likely the NT will soon adopt a graduated licensing system involving 2-stages of provisional licences (red & green P-plates), similar to other states in Australia.
Can I carry passengers while learning to drive?Yes, but it's not always a good idea. Young children in particular can be very distracting while you are trying to concentrate.
Note: your accompanying driver must be fully licensed (NOT provisional), must be seated next to you, and shares the responsibility of driving.
What type of vehicle can I drive on an NT car learners, provisional or full licence?NT "class C" (car) licences cover vehicles weighing no more than 4.5 tonnes GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass) with 2 axles and designed to seat no more than 12 adults including the driver, excluding motorcycles.
Mopeds, small scooters with restricted engine capacity & speed, can be ridden by C-class provisional or full licence holders.
Briefly, you may drive cars, family-sized 4WD's, light vans and some small mini buses, but you are advised to learn in something easy to handle e.g. a small or medium sized car.
You may not drive heavy vehicles or specialised vehicles (e.g. earth moving equipment).
For full information, see the list of licence classes at the NT Transport Group's web site from the list of links above.
If in doubt about the class of vehicle you intend to drive, note the registration label details and contact a Motor Vehicle Registry office for assistance.
Can I drive a truck or bus on an NT class "C" (car) licence?Minimum age and experience conditions are imposed for heavy vehicle licences, which are graded according to the weight and type of truck or bus.
(You need an "h" endorsement in order to carry paying passengers, "h" endorsements are only valid for the class of vehicle you hold a licence for).
Check out the list of licence classes at the NT Transport Group web site (see the list of links above).
How do I get a motorcycle licence?For people in Darwin, Alice Springs & Katherine the recommended method is to undergo a training course at a Motorcycle Education Training And Licensing (M.E.T.A.L.) centre.
Courses include theory as well as practical sessions and are constructed to suit beginners, intermediate and advanced. The first course when successfully completed will give you your motorcycle learner's licence.
Motorcycles and helmets are provided, but you must wear appropriate clothing for riding.
Contact your nearest Motor Vehicle Registry office for costs & details, brochures are also available at MVR Offices - or see the list of links above.
Do driving instructors have a Code of Practice?Yes there are two:
For DTAL Iinstructors there is the "Conditions of Registration for DTAL Instructors".
For all instructors there is "Code of Practice for Driving Instructors in the Northern Territory".
Do not hesitate to contact the relevant authority if you think your driving instructor is in breach of a code, mistreating you, or not training you correctly.
Go to the NT Transport group's web site (see list of links above) for details, or ask you instructor who is required to show you a copy on request.
What are the driving conditions on a class C NT learner's licence?
What are the driving conditions on an NT provisional licence?
Where do I get L-plates and P-plates?L-Plates and P-Plates are available at most service stations, motor vehicle accessory outlets, and department stores.
They come in 3 types:
P-plates must be a minimum of 30cm X 30cm, and have a red P on a white background.
P-plates with a white P on a red background are seen in some shops, these are not correct for the NT.
Driving school cars have plates, there is no need to bring your own to a professional driving lesson.
What is The "System of Vehicle Control"?There are various systems of driving a motor vehicle, but the System of Vehicle Control (which originated at the Police Driving Academy in Hendon UK) is used by the DTAL CBT&A-based logbook system and by many organisations employing professional drivers.
It also forms the basis of the NT's VORT (Vehicle On Road Test).
The System is considered to be the safest and most efficient one available, however it sometimes comes under fire as being outdated and incomplete.
I agree to some extent, as many instructors teach only the basic steps of the system in a robotic manner.
The System does not, for instance, outline the observational skills (such as scanning) which are vital to defensive driving. It is a "bare bones" skeleton to be built up on, and if used in this way it has a definite place in modern defensive driving.
See an example of The System put into practice.
Where can I get information on the NT's practical driving test?The VORT (Vehicle On Road Test) for car licenses is conducted by the LTOs (Licence Testing Officers) of NT Motor Vehicle Registry.
You can download the VORT Operations Manual and the VORT Interpretations Manual from the MVR's web site - both are in PDF format.
See the list of links above.
Is the driving test hard? Do people fail their test often?The driving test is not hard, but it is strict!
It's not hard in that, providing you are taught correctly and get the necessary amount of practice, driving to the system demanded by the authorities is not hard at all!
However it is strict in that the authorities require you to drive to a defined system (based on the System of Vehicle Control). But as mentioned above this system is easy to follow - as long as you DO follow it!
Look at it this way...
Australia's crash rate is embarrassingly high for a developed country, especially here in the Northern Territory where it is worse than the rest of the country.
The NT authorities would like to make our on-road driving test much more challenging to curb this trend, but unfortunately they have restraints which are common to most jurisdictions - i.e. political will (stemming from public will) - or rather the lack of it.
In other words the public is outraged by individual acts of robbery, assault, murder etc, but accept our shameful road injury & fatality statistics as an acceptable part of life!!!!
As a result of this, the NT's VORT (Vehicle On Road Test) is only a SNAPSHOT assessment of basic driving skills for a limited duration.
Even if you pass the VORT with a clean sheet, you are not necessarily an accomplished driver or even a particularly good one - yet! Remember your NT provisional licence is a type of learner's licence, where you can practice and develop your driving skills solo.
OK then so why the high fail rate (yes it IS high!)?
Apart from test nerves, the main reason is that many test candidates are simply not ready (poorly taught and/or insufficient practice), they go for their test too soon.
This is recognised by the NT Transport Group - two rules, the "6 continuous months on learner licence" rule before booking a VORT, and for the DTAL Program's rule that only 2 subsided (voucher) lessons can be done in a 7-day period were introduced to counteract this trend.
A common problem for instructors especially those providing DTAL training, is that when a student driver is eligible to book their test or have used up their 12 DTAL vouchers, the student "disappears" without further lessons and suddenly contacts the instructor just before the test expecting to be given a "quick practice lesson" and then to pass their test.
Another problem is that many Registered DTAL Instructors use the subsided log book system as a cheap & cheerful way of preparing their students to pass the test (making them very popular), which is counter to required outcomes of the DTAL Program, and also sends inadequately prepared novice drivers out onto the road.
How do I arrange for my driving test on the DTAL program?In order to take advantage of the DTAL system - fully-featured training, no fee when booking your 1st practical driving test and free issue of your NT provisional licence - you must successfully complete the DTAL log book system.
This means all log book competencies must be signed off by a Registered DTAL Instructor, and the two progress reviews must be successfully completed, and you must have attended a DTAL Theory Two course and have it signed off (you can only attend Theory 2 after completing the first Progress Review).
Also, under current NT regulations you may not book your on-road driving test unless you have held your NT learner's licence continuously for at least 6 months.
You must book your test at one of the MVR (Motor Vehicle Registry) offices - you will need your NT learner's licence and your individually numbered log book with the signed DTAL Certificate of Competency for DTAL Theory 2.
(Theory 2 is only done after your first progress review PR2, part way through your practical training).
This system allows you to book your test prior to completing the log book, but not so early as to put a strain on the booking system or put undue pressure on you to complete your training early.
How do I get a car licence without going through DTAL?The first step for previously unlicensed candidates is to get an NT Learner's licence, this allows you to get behind the wheel while supervised by an NT full-licence holder.
Conditions are: you must be supervised by a fully-licensed (NOT Provisional) person seated next to you, who will actively instruct you in your driving and who shares with you the responsibility to avoid crashes.
You must wear L-plates clearly visible to the front & rear of the car, you must never exceed 80km/h and must observe all road rules, and you must have ZBAC i.e. NO alcohol in your blood.
After passing a VORT (Vehicle On Road Test) at a Motor Vehicle Registry office, you will attain an NT Provisional Licence.
A Provisional Licence is like a Learner's Licence however you may drive without an accompanying fully-licensed driver to supervise you.
Also you must display P-plates at the front & rear of the car, must never exceed 100km'h, must obey all road rules and have a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of ZERO for the next 3 years or until you reach 25 years of age.
For the latest information go to the NT Transport group website (see the list of links above.
Can I do my driving test in an automatic car?Yes. Your provisional licence will be endorsed with an "A" meaning that for the first year on your provisional licence you may only drive unaccompanied in an automatic vehicle. You may still learn and practice in a manual car with an accompanying licensed driver, as if you were on "L" plates. There is no differentiation between manual and automatic cars on NT full licences.
Practising the VORT's reverse parallel park in your own carThe reverse parallel park exercise on the NT's VORT (Vehicle On Road Test) is done on a roadside, but using poles instead of cars.
This is similar to but not exactly the same as reversing into a parallel park between 2 "real" vehicles - the space given to park in is generally smaller than real life, and the poles themselves are harder to see than actual cars, and can easily be hidden behind the car's blind spots.
The poles are set up around the car after the car is parked against the kerb, it's important to park accurately so that the poles can be placed tin the correct position.
The manoeuvre is done in 2 stages:
Stage 1: driving out of the parking space and stopping alongside & just ahead of the imaginary car in front, and
Stage 2: reversing back into the parking space finishing at the spot you started from.
The techniques used to do the park vary, each instructor has his or her favourite method which they pass on to their students.
However the following restrictions apply (remember the 2 poles act as cars parked ahead & behind you:
Where do I find out about the DTAL Program?Visit the NT Transport Group's website and search "DTAL" - or see the list of links above.
What are advantages of learning to drive through DTAL?DTAL seems to be unique to the Northern Territory, no other Australian state or territory has a similar program that I know of.. The program has many advantages, in particular:
How do I arrange for my DTAL driving lessons?When you receive your log book, you will be given a list of Registered DTAL Instructors from which to choose.
The choice is entirely yours and the list does not recommend one instructor over another, but your DTAL instructor MUST be one from the list.
The latest updated list is available on the NT Transport Group's website (see the list of links above).
(Of course, you can also take lessons from family members or friends, in fact you should get as much driving practice between DTAL lessons as you can, but only Registered DTAL Instructors can sign a log book or take vouchers as payment.)
Decide beforehand whether you want to learn in a manual or an automatic. Perhaps you might want a female instructor, or a certain type of car. When you contact your chosen driving school, here are some questions you might like to ask:
What is Competency Based Training & Assessment (CBT&A)?A competency can be briefly described as: "the specification of a knowledge and skill and the application of that knowledge and skill, to the standard required".
In the CBT&A-based logbook system used in the NT, there are 22 competencies and 2 assessments. Each competency must be taught and assessed to the required standard as defined by the NT Registrar of Motor Vehicles (licensing authority).
(Note: The log book training & licensing system in the NT is not fully Competency Based Training and Assessment, but is based on Competency Based Training and Assessment (CBT&A). In other words, it is "CBT&A-based". Quite a mouthful).
When competencies are assessed and deemed competent they are signed off by the authorised driving instructor in the student's log book.
Competencies not demonstrated to the required standard are said to be "Not Yet Competent". (The word "fail" does not have a place in CBT&A systems).
Below are the 22 DTAL log book competencies and assessments :
1. Vehicle Controls.
2. Cabin Drill.
3. Start Up Procedure.
4. Moving Off Procedure.
5. Steering Control.
6. Gear Changing.
7. Speed Control.
8. Slowing Procedure
9. Turns, Left and Right.
10. Stopping Procedure.
11. Give Way Rules.
PR1 - Progress Review 1.
14. Right Angle Parking.
15. Reverse Parallel Parking.
16. Hill Starts.
17. Turning Around in the Road (e.g. 3-Point Turn).
18. Lane Changing, Merging, Forming One Lane.
20. Observation Skill, Visual Searching and Scanning, Hazard Recognition.
21. Night Driving.
22. Compliance with the System of Vehicle Control.
PR2 - Progress Review 2.
What is the difference between an "assessment" and a "test"?"Test", "Pass" and "Fail" are four-letter words not used in Competency Based Training and Assessing (CBT&A) systems. They are considered to have negative connotations not in keeping with the principles of setting fair and appropriate conditions of assessment
Instead we use "Assessment", "Competent", and "Not Yet Competent".
The Vehicle On Road Test (VORT) still uses the old words but, in my experience as an instructor, I doubt if introducing the politically correct equivalents would do anything to relieve the nerves of test (sorry, assessment) candidates.
How many driving lessons will I need?The number of lessons you may need depends on many factors, including your learning speed and especially on how much practice you get between lessons, and also the type of practice you can get.
The 12 DTAL vouchers do NOT guarantee that you will be ready for your licence after they are used up, in most cases extra lessons beyond the first 12 are necessary and you are encouraged to get as much practice with family or friends as you can. (Students are limited to no more than 2 voucher-funded lessons per week, to give them an opportunity to practice.
Extra lessons per week can be taken, but the full cost of these lessons must be borne by the DTAL student).
There is no substitute for experience! Your instructor can advise when you are ready for the practical test.
Note: learning to drive is an individual activity. It does not serve any purpose to compare your rate of progress with another DTAL student, there are far too many variables to make a meaningful comparison.
Why is my driving instructor hard to get on the phone?Your instructor might be conducting a lesson or assessment, and have the mobile phone temporarily switched off or diverted to allow full attention to be given to the learner driver.
It is against the codes of practice for instructors to spend time on the phone during a session. (This a significant problem for most instructors, who rely on the phone for their business).
Also, it is an offence to use a hand held mobile while driving, and accompanying drivers such as instructors are required to obey all rules & regulations pertaining to driving, even when sitting alongside a learner driver.
If you can't get through straight away, send a text or leave a message, or try again later.
DTAL instructors are often teaching at night as well (at least one Night Drive is mandatory on the log book system).
You should also ask your instructor if he/she regularly assesses an e-mail account.
Can I change to a different DTAL driving instructor?Yes. Here are two situations where you might change your instructor:
Where do I find out about the DriveSafe NT Program?Driver training in the Northern Territory, including the NT's DTAL (Driver Training And Licensing) Program, is under review and significant changes are expected.
DriveSafe NT is the proposed name for the program which will replace DTAL.
The review process is still underway and until the proposed changes have been ratified by the Minister, there will be no further information available.
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