Bypassing the now defunct Driver Qualification Test (NSW)

The controversial Driver Qualification Test in NSW has now been scrapped, but old P2 drivers still have to sit it (or maybe not).

The NSW Driver Qualification Test (DQT) has been controversial since its introduction in 2000.

Questions from the knowledge section ranges from common sense questions like “what is a blindspot?” to questions on past statistics like “what’s the percentage of killing a pedestrian hitting them at 60km/h?”.

There’s also a hazard perception section where you watch dashcam footage and tap the screen when you spot hazards or when you think it’s safe to proceed.

Because the types of questions asked especially in the knowledge section, many people question its efficacy and see it merely as a revenue driver for RMS rather than a test that demonstrates driver safety.

Starting 20th November 2017, the test was scrapped as part of an overhauled Graduted Licensing Scheme. New P2 drivers no longer have to sit the test to move to a full license, however, drivers holding a P2 license issued prior to 20th November still have to sit the test.

Avoid doing the test

It turns out there’s a way around it. All you need to do is renew your P2 license first.

P2 licenses obtained prior to 20th November 2017 are valid for 30 months (and not the 36 months stated on the RMS website currently). You are eligible for license renewal 6 months prior to license expiry, meaning that you can renew your license once you’ve passed 24 months since you obtained your P2 license.

24 months is also the requirement for holding a P2 license before being able to move to an unrestricted full license.

The lady who served me at my local Service NSW was well aware of this quirk. I simply told her I wanted to renew my P2 and move to my unrestricted license — and she was only too happy to process that request.

This will set you back an extra $44 assuming you passed the DQT the first time — but there’s a non-zero chance you’ll fail the first time.

Note: This does not apply for a replacement license. You must renew your license in order to be moved to the new Graduated Licensing Scheme.

Why not just sit the test?

  • It costs $45 each time you sit the test. As per above, since there is a non-zero chance that you may fail the test, you may prefer to pay an $89 renewal fee rather than risk at least $90 if you fail the first time. It’s up to you.
  • Your time could be better spent than studying arguably pointless and outdated statistics about crashes, fatalities and injuries.

    Knowing that there’s a 70% chance (and not 80% chance) of killing a pedestrian when hitting them at 60km/h is probably not going to make you a better driver. That’s not to say all the knowledge questions asked are pointless — the Driver Qualification Handbook is still a good resource to read through.

  • Rather than spending time practicing and doing another hazard perception test, you could spend your time watch some dashcam footage of actual accidents on YouTube. Consider what you’ll do if you were in the driver’s position. You’re probably more likely to be more cautious if you watch an actual accident occur rather than simulated scenarios.
  • Your time could be better spent researching loopholes to avoid a now-defunct driver qualification test, as I have clearly done.

A smattering of thoughts on the new bundled CVC pricing

I’m a bit busy at the moment, but I thought I’d put together a few of my initial thoughts and questions on the new CVC pricing.

Thanks to a handy-dandy embargo, there are already a plethora of articles around detailing NBN Co’s new (proposed) pricing construct this morning… so, I won’t bore you with the exact details of the changes.

But if you’re not already up to speed, naturally I’d recommend a read of Angus Kidman’s article on the changes on… but this time, it’s also because it includes an analogy to pots and stovetops.

If that doesn’t float your saucepan, other articles are just a quick search away.

Back of napkin calculations

nbn™ 50

The new nbn™ 50 AVC with 2 Mbps of bundled CVC comes in at $45 ex GST vs $34 ex GST currently but with only 50 kbps CVC bundled1.

So the cost difference of $11 ($45 – $34 = $11) is what an RSP would have spent on CVC under the current model. Assuming the industry average charge of $14.25 per Mbps2, the $11 left over would allow them to purchase 0.77 Mbps ($11 / $14.25 per Mbps = 0.77 Mbps).

Since the new nbn™ 50 comes with 2 Mbps, this represents a 1.6x increase in CVC allocation per user for the same price. Not bad.

nbn™ 100

On the other hand, the new nbn™ 100 looks nowhere near as generous.

The new nbn™ 100 AVC with 2.5 Mbps of bundled CVC comes in at $65 ex GST vs $38 ex GST with the 50 kbps CVC credit bundled1.

Doing the same calculations as before, this leaves $27 for CVC under the current model. This is equivalent to ~1.89 Mbps of CVC using the industry average rate1, or a 0.3x increase in CVC allocation per user for the same price currently. That’s tiny.

Given this, I wouldn’t expect the take-up of the new nbn™ 100 product to be huge. The new construct effectively forces RSPs to buy at least 2.5 Mbps of CVC per user all year, all around… which could be a problem.

This constraint will likely deter providers (especially those in the low-cost market) from selling a 100/40 product since: a) CVC-equivalent cost per user is likely above the current annual CVC average cost per user on a 100/40 retail offering, and; b) it gives RSPs no flexibility to reduce CVC in the low-demand season.

Remember, bandwidth requirements can fluctuate seasonally — usually peaking during school holidays.

If NBN Co were to retire the current separated AVC/CVC product set completely (which, by the way, it has NOT said it would do), I’d be surprised to see any 100/40 Mbps plan priced under $110 retail.

More questions

The articles about the pricing changes so far are light on details. So, naturally, I have a few questions about the mechanics of the new products:

CVC mixing for bundled and unbundled products?

An interesting question is whether NBN Co will allow mixing existing unbundled and new bundled products in the future. I doubt they would — otherwise, providers will just buy a bunch of new nbn™ 50 products and allow other customers on the non-bundled AVCs to free-load off the bundled CVC.

How will Dimension-based CVC discount be calculated?

On the front of the Dimension-based CVC discount: if NBN Co allows both bundled and unbundled products to co-exist, will the average CVC allocation per user be calculated across both bundled and unbundled products?

If they don’t, RSPs may no longer be able to afford to offer services to low usage users. These users might cost RSP too much to bump up to the new product set, but since the average CVC per user in the unbundled segment has plummeted, it may cost them too much to leave on the unbundled segment as well.

But if they do, the unbundled products could end up hurting NBN Co’s bottom line more as NBN Co will likely have to pay out more of the dimension-based CVC Discount to RSPs who adopt the new bundled products but also retain a good smattering of unbundled products.

A word on industry average CVC

Note that I am using the industry average1 CVC pricing here as the benchmark.

Even if an RSP allocates more CVC per user on higher speed tiered AVC, the current dimension based CVC discount is calculated on the average CVC allocation per user across all CVCs — making the average a realistic comparison benchmark for most RSPs unless they skew significantly from average.

If they currently allocate more CVC per user than the industry average, the apparent savings under the new structure would be smaller because of the current Dimension-Based Discount.

Conversely, if they allocate less CVC per user than the industry average, the apparent savings under the new structure would be greater.

1 Currently, each AVC comes with a 50 kbps CVC credit. Since it’s such a small amount, we might as well disregard for the purpose of this discussion.
2 Industry average based on ACCC NBN Wholesale Market Report. Average CVC per user is 1.09 Mbps, falling within the 1000 to 1149 kbps bracket in NBN Co’s dimension based CVC discount. This is equivalent to $14.25 per Mbps of TC-4 CVC ex GST.