Learner drivers back on the road as restrictions ease

After five months of waiting for VicRoads to resume testing, Shanti Steventon-Lorenzen took her probationary test last month.

Shanti Steventon-Lorenzen is gearing up to new freedom after gaining her ‘Ps’ with a little help from TAC and CHIRP Community Health in Castlemaine.
The TAC L2P program has been running through CHIRP for five years, and it helps young learner drivers attain their probationary licence. The program matches them with trained volunteer mentors to gain the necessary 120 hours of supervised driving practise.
While metropolitan programs have been suspended since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CHIRP’s regional program has been able to resume activities whenever restrictions have eased with safe hygiene procedures to protect volunteers and learners.
Even though Ms Steventon-Lorenzen achieved her 120 hours in May, she wasn’t able to take the driving test until last month.
“Having a licence will make my last month of high school heaps easier. Over the summer having a licence will mean the freedom to work and catch up with mates without the hassle of organising lifts,” she said.
Shanti lives half an hour out of Castlemaine and was feeling a bit trapped in the bush.
“I craved the independence that comes from easy travel. I also knew that having a licence would make it easier going into year 12,” she said.
“My mentor Pete and I ended up driving for one to two hours most weeks until I had my 120 hours.
“We started just learning how to control the car around Castlemaine and progressed to longer drives to Bendigo and Maryborough. We also managed a trip down to Melbourne and Pete taught me some helpful skills like changing a tyre.”
CHIRP’s L2P coordinator Lisa Cavallaro said despite making so many adjustments to their lives already, all of the learner participants had been good-natured about the disruptions, patiently waiting for restrictions to lift again.
“Shanti joined the program in October 2018 when she was first matched with her driver mentor, Peter, who has been an L2P volunteer since 2017,” Ms Cavallaro said.
Ms Cavallaro said CHIRP expected an influx of learners now that VicRoads was testing for learner permits again.
“Fortunately, we have new mentors lining up to join the program,” she said.
The L2P Program is a joint partnership between VicRoads and the Transport Accident Commission, supported by the Victorian Government.