Monday 14 November 2016



This can largely depend on the learner’s own personal driving experience.  For example, it’s quite normal for a beginning novice driver to drive for something between 40 to 60 minutes before their concentration begins to drop and mistakes begin to appear in their driving.  As the learner driver begins to become more experienced, they will generally be able to hold their level of concentration for much longer, although this may differ between learner drivers.


Apart from heavy vehicles, I don’t believe there is any law in Australia specifically regarding the length of time a learner can sit behind the steering wheel of a car in one continuous journey.  However, each state transport authority does issue guidelines recommending ways to avoid driver fatigue or tiredness.  Of these, the consensus seems to be two hours with a 15 minute break before getting behind the wheel again.  


So, if a learner driver were to drive from Cairns to Townsville, it would be strongly advisable to have at least one break, 3 or more would be better, along the route.  Given the considerable distance in this example, a learner driver shouldn’t undertake this type of journey without some considerable driving experience including hazard detection.

Three things to remember:

1.       Our reactions tend to be slightly slower in the morning than in the early evening.

2.       There is a dip in alertness after the midday meal.

3.       The greatest risk of tiredness-related accidents is between 11.00pm and 6.00am.

It would be most helpful to readily recognise some of the signs of tiredness in drivers as that would help avoid potentially dangerous situations.  Warning signs of tiredness include:

General tiredness/yawning

Sore/heavy eyes
Dim/fuzzy vision
Stiffness & cramps

Aches & pains
Day dreaming
Delayed reactions
Random speed increase/decrease
Seeing imaginary things
Droning/humming in ears

Fumbling for gear changes
Car begins wandering


It’s fairly important to avoid driving if taking any medication which causes drowsiness.  Don’t turn driving into an unpleasant chore.  Keep the following in mind – if stress and anger attacks happen, stop the car and take a short break.

When driving longer distances, things to consider, apart from regular breaks, would be to share the driving, adjust your seat for comfort & avoiding muscular tiredness, use rest areas or driver reviver stops, play tourist & stop at scenic spots, and get some fresh air.  A brisk 10 minute walk can be energising.  It’s almost needless to repeat, but stop and rest as soon as you feel tired or drowsy.

It’s best for both the learner driver and supervisor driver to have had a good night’s sleep so you’re both alert during the trip.  When driving, most learner drivers get tired more quickly than experienced drivers.  Remember to plan for and take regular breaks, even if it is just Maccas Gordonvale, Maccas Innsifail & Maccas Ingham en route from Cairns to Townsville.  Of course, many would suggest there are more interesting and stimulating places to stop that would be much more refreshing. 

Regarding log book entries, it is advised by TMR Queensland to record only the driving time and not to include breaks – refer to page 11 of the logbook.  While refuelling, checking water/oil and tyre pressure may be part of your driving session, stopping for a can of Coke, a meat pie and a toilet stop would be considered a break.

For more information regarding driving tired, have a look at the QLD TMR page-


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  3. hmm. i never really thought about it..but i think it also depends upon the destination goal prior to driving,.. the mind can adjust to goals given thus driving stamina is subjective.

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