The road test is one of the scariest and most frightening experiences for a new driver, but it’s also the most rewarding once you pass. Many people fail the test multiple times before they finally pass. Obviously, it’s better to pass the first time so you: A.) Get your well deserved drivers license, and B.) Some states make you pay for the road test after you fail a certain amount of times. So do your best and pass the first time by utilizing these effective practice methods. Remember, you must practice not only physically, but cognitively as well. This means know the rules and laws of the road, remember proper driving procedures, and get a feel for the culture of driving itself.
Know The Rules, Laws, and Procedures
Being able to remember the rules, laws, and procedures of the road is one of the biggest aspects of passing your test. Yes, being hands on is very important, but first you must be able to remember the rules before playing a game, so knowing such rules are very important for driving.
Know what signs mean and look like. For example, know the difference between a yield sign and a stop sign. Learn how to properly stop at a stop sign and properly proceed. Remember the procedure for when you’re approached by an emergency vehicle or you’re being pulled over by law enforcement. Study. Indulge yourself in books and online literature to learn not only the basics, but the more advanced content of the rules, laws, and procedures of the road.
Another thing, although you may not find it in many pieces of literature, is getting a feel for the driving culture. Believe it or not there is a huge culture (although it may not be scientifically noted) when it comes to driving. There’s techniques and courtesy that comes into account on the road. For example, although the law states in the state of New York that when two people come to a stop sign simultaneously, the person on the right is granted the right of way. However, many people will initiate a “wave” with their hand, signaling for the other driver to proceed first. Although the law says nothing about this, it merely deals with fundamental driver culture. This method also leads to additional safety on the road ways. Think – if people didn’t initiate a wave and people just assumed the other driver knew the law, there would be many more accidents at stop sign intersections. Initiating a mere “wave” motion can save you from getting into an automobile collision.
One major problem that I’ve personally seen and heard of is that drivers don’t know what to do when they come up to a school bus with it’s lights flashing and stop sign out. Logically when you see a stop sign you stop, then proceed to go. However, in this instance, it’s completely different. According to New York State law a driver must completely stop and wait until the bus driver recedes the stop sign and the flashing lights are off. Even if you’re on the other side of a highway or a two-way road you must stop – this is for the safety of the children in case they must cross a busy street from their stop to get to their home. Breaking this law can have serious repercussions and is taken very seriously, as children have been injured and killed due to drivers breaking this law.
Parking Lot Practice
I’ve met people that never drove a car before, but they still signed up for a road test with not much time in advance to practice. I personally don’t think this is a great idea, and jumping right on the road way isn’t such a great idea, either. This endangers other drivers since you’re inexperienced and may be nervous on the roadway. So start practicing and getting a feel for driving in a vacant parking lot (and if there are other cars – STAY AWAY).
Try to find a parking lot with marked parking spaces, as you can use these to measure your precision and get a tighter grip on the car’s handling. You can also utilize these parking spots to help practice backing up a car. I also suggest bringing some sort of markers (the best choice is small traffic cones). If you have cones you can make a small obstacle course to navigate, use them to weave in and out of to get a better feel for your cars wheel sensitivity, and set them up to practice for parallel parking and three point turns.
Hit the Roads… Side Roads, That is
When you’re ready to drive on the road go for it. However, right now, stick to the side roads. Main roads and highways are very rough to drive on for inexperienced drivers. Higher speeds and increased traffic density makes it difficult for inexperienced drivers, optimizing your chances of getting into a motor vehicle accident. Side roads are easier for practice since there’s stop signs, so you can get a feel for set points to indefinitely stop. Also, the speeds on side roads are much slower, generally by half or so, so there’s minimal pressure to push your limits when it comes to speed. If you don’t feel comfortable driving the speed limit on side roads (generally 25-30mph in my area), then go back to the parking lot and wait until you’re completely comfortable. There’s no shame in going back a step to ensure your next step is solid. Driving is a privilege, and it’s dangerous. Getting into a car accident is not only traumatizing, but it’s also expensive and a hassle. Being an optimal driving mitigates your chances of getting into an accident.
Another variable about side roads is life. There’s much more life on side roads (pedestrian-wise) – children, adults, animals. Practicing at slower speeds on side roads will teach you to be more observant and cautious when it comes to driving.
Take The High (Traffic) Road
When you’re ready take the high-traffic roads such as highways, go for it. Make sure that you’re ready, and try not to go during rush hour – you want to easy your way into it. Drive on a highway when people are working so there’s minimal traffic, and then go towards higher-traffic areas and times when you’re comfortable enough. I need to be honest – driving on the highway/expressway is something that you WILL need to get used to, and it’s probably the best training you’ll do for when it comes to being observant, getting a feel for your car, and getting a feel of what speeds you’re truly comfortable at. Like I said before, make sure that you’re ready. Generally road tests won’t be given on highways (not that I’ve seen or heard of at least), but it’s good to have this experience under your belt.
Learn how to properly change lanes and check your blind spots and mirrors. Don’t take anything for granted when driving on the highway (or in general for that matter) – it’s dangerous. Being cautious and observant is your best proactive means of staying safe on the roadways.
Form good habits when it comes to driving. This will make it easier to conduct basic driving tasks such as checking all mirrors and blind spots when conducting three point turns, parallel parks, and even merely changing lanes, and using your blinker whenever it’s necessary. This is a BIG part of the road test, as you can easily become a liability to other drivers if you don’t correctly observe and signal.
Creating these good habits will save you in the long run – trust me. You’re essentially minimizing the chances of getting into a motor vehicle accident just by taking precautions that take seconds, if that.
One of the more difficult feats of driving for new drivers is the ability to drive in reverse – whether it be into a parking spot or into a driveway, or even into a parallel park. Driving in reverse is essentially paramount, as you’ll us it a lot. You simply cannot get away with driving forward your whole life.
I suggest making a simple course in a parking lot using cones and maneuver your way through it. When I went through my ambulance driver training we used a public driveway that bent about 90% around a curve in which I had to back out through. It took me a few tries but I eventually got it, so don’t be discouraged if you’re not good at it first. And remember, always look behind you while your car is in reverse, and make sure that there’s nothing (or no one) behind the vehicle.
Remember that practice makes perfect and that getting your license is a huge privilege and step towards mobile freedom. Always take caution when driving, and other driver’s actions and well-being into consideration.