Passing the HPT
After you’ve had your P1 licence for 12 months, you can attempt to move on to the next stage – your P2 licence, which is signified by green P plates.
To go from red to green Ps, you need to pass the Hazard Perception Test (HPT).
What is the HPT?
Now that you’ve been driving by yourself for a while, you’ll be well aware of the dodgy situations that can arise on the road: a pedestrian stepping out, a car cutting in front of you, or perhaps someone braking for no apparent reason.
These situations are what Roads and Maritime Services (replacing Roads and Traffic Authority) calls ‘hazards’ – in other words, they are possible sources of danger that could lead to a crash. Safe drivers can spot these hazards with enough time to act and avoid a crash.
The HPT is a computer-based touch-screen test designed to measure your ability to recognise potentially dangerous situations on the road and then respond appropriately. Film clips of real traffic situations are used and you’re asked to touch the screen in response to what’s going on – for example, you may have to slow down, overtake or turn at an intersection.
The main concepts of hazard perception include judging stopping and following distances, picking safe gaps in the traffic and scanning for hazards.
The HPT is based on thorough research – in fact the test questions focus on the five most common crash types in which P platers are involved. Read more about common crashes and how to avoid them.
Preparing for the test
Heaps of calm and sensible experience behind the wheel is your best preparation. But you also need to get a copy of the Hazard Perception Handbook so you know what to expect. You can buy it from your local motor registry or download it for free. You can also try some interactive practice sessions online.
You can sit the HPT at any Roads and Maritime Services (replacing Roads and Traffic Authority) motor registry. Once again, bookings are essential. You can book online, by calling 13 22 13 or in person at any motor registry.
When you go for your test you’ll need a copy of your licence, proof of identity and a means to pay for your P2 licence.
After you’ve passed
Like the learner and P1 licences, there are special rules that you have to follow when you’re on the P2 licence. They are listed below. Unlike your previous licences, you can upgrade a P2 licence to some of the heavy vehicles licences, particularly LR, MR and HR. Read more about licence classes.
P2 licence holders must:
- Have P plates (green P on a white background) displayed conspicuously at the front and rear of the car when driving. You can’t put them on the inside of the windows – they must be fixed to the exterior of the car. If towing a trailer, a P plate must be on the back of the trailer.
- Not exceed zero blood alcohol concentration (in effect, this means you cannot drink before driving).
- Observe a maximum speed limit of 100 km/h.
- Not accumulate more than seven demerit points.
- Not supervise a learner driver.
- Only carry the number of passengers that can be properly seated in seats and restrained by approved seatbelts or child restraints.
- Only drive a vehicle with a seatbelt fitted to the driver's position and wear the seatbelt.
- Not drive with any passengers in or on the boot of the vehicle.
P platers have restrictions on the kinds of vehicles they can drive. Here are the full details.
The final countdown
The next step is the final stage of the licensing system. After holding your P2 licence for 24 months, you can attempt the Driver Qualification Test. If you pass, you’ll get your full licence. Read more about how to get your full licence.
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