Pass Your Driving Test: 30 Tips & Things for Teens to Remember

Ready to pass that driving test with flying colors? Sure, it can be daunting to take a behind-the-wheel exam with an instructor watching your every move; but you’ve practiced your you-know-what off and have read through the BMV handbook till your eyes bled. Now there’s just one thing left to do: earn your driver’s license!

Here are 30 tips, tricks, and things to remember for your driving test. Good luck. Godspeed. You’ve got this.

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1. Understand the Rules of the Road

Think of your written exam as homework for your behind-the-wheel test. The knowledge gained from reading the rulebook and taking practice tests should be enough to help you get your driver’s license. If you need to catch up on the rules in Florida, review the Florida DMV Driver’s Handbook here.

2. Practice the Essentials

Take advantage of your learner’s permit by practicing every chance you get. Drive in the rain, drive in the sleet, drive at night, drive to and from school — just drive a lot.

You’ll also want to practice some more advanced techniques as you gain more confidence behind the wheel. Try making some 3-point turns, parallel parking, merging onto highways, and reversing into parking spots. You won’t truly be comfortable driving until you have years of experience under your belt, but everyone has to start somewhere.

3. Don’t Dwell on Past Mistakes

No one’s perfect. If you make a small mistake while taking your driving – for instance, if you don’t initiate a turn signal before braking – don’t panic. Make a mental note and do better the next chance you get; driving instructors may reward you if you’re able to correct noticeable bad habits during your driver's test.

4. Buckle In

Before you start the car, you’ll want to buckle up. It’s a law – and an automatic failure if you don’t click it.

5. Adjust ALL Mirrors

Show your instructor that you’re prepared by adjusting your rearview and side-view mirrors prior to driving. Your instructor will surely be watching if you’re checking your mirrors regularly during your road test.

6. Hands at 9 and 3

Grip the steering wheel confidently in a 9-and-3 position. The NHTSA recommends 9-and-3 (or 8-and-5) due to airbag safety concerns. The old 10-and-2 position is dangerous, as injuries caused by airbags to hands and arms are more common.

The only time when proper hand placement can be overlooked is when reversing; in this case, you should have one hand (your left) positioned at 12 o’clock.

7. Don’t Tailgate

When driving, always keep a safe distance from the vehicles in front of you. Typically, you’ll want at least 3 car-lengths of space between you; at higher speeds, you’ll want to give yourself enough space to adequately react to sudden stops. At 60 MPH, you’ll want at least 6 car-lengths of following distance, or about 2 seconds of time to react.

8. Learn to Reverse Without a Rearview Camera

Practice the way your parents learned: turn that head, grab the passenger-side headrest, and reverse. You’ll get a feel for turning (hint: steer the opposite way) after a few times.

9. Pick the Best Test Time to Take the Test

When you schedule your driver’s license test, we suggest choosing times that are friendlier to new or teenage drivers. Avoid weekdays around rush hour and school arrivals and departures. If you have poor night vision or astigmatism, try to skip dusk. Always avoid taking a driver’s test at dawn, too, as a low sun can blind your young peepers.

So, basically try to get in between 9 and 11 in the morning or 4 pm.

10. Drive Around Your DMV

Get to know the area in which you’ll be taking your test. Travel a few miles around the DMV for a week or two prior to your test. Identify difficult or busy areas to navigate, and get comfortable driving through those portions.

11. Stay Alert to Speed Traps

Typically, speed traps are reserved for portions of highways that have sudden changes in speed limits – say, from 70 mph to 55 mph. As a teen driver taking a road test, you may not have to get on the highway; however, you’ll still want to pay attention to speed limit signage and adjust to any changes properly.

12. Blinkers Before Brakes

One of the biggest mistakes people make during their driver’s test is the improper use of turn signals. The correct way to use your blinkers is to indicate you’re turning, which should be done before braking whenever possible. So, if your driving instructor tells you to turn right, you’ll want to engage your turn signal before braking – and certainly before changing lanes.

Always remember the Three Bs: Blinkers Before Brakes.

13. Get an Eye Exam Before Your Driver’s Test

If you notice your vision is blurrier than it used to be, it’s time for a check-up from your eye doctor. Teens’ eyesight can change drastically while in high school, and there’s no reason not to get as close to 20/20 as possible. Your eyesight will even be tested when you apply for a driver’s license, so might as well make an appointment now.

14. Have Your Vehicle Serviced

This is more of a driving test tip for parents, but it’s still important for teens. Have a mechanic or certified auto service center perform maintenance on your vehicle prior to a road test. Check tires, replace windshield wipers, change the oil – everything needed to ensure your vehicle is fit for the road.

For fast Miami auto service you can trust, make an appointment at Braman Hyundai. We perform work on all makes and models.

15. Sleep Well, Friend

Get a good 8-plus hours of shuteye. The brain isn’t made to work without sleep, and do you really want a zzz-deprived brain making decisions on your behalf?

16. Be Confident

Anxiety gets the best of everyone, but the driver’s seat is no place for nerves to take over. Be confident in your abilities.

17. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Your instructor is here to help answer your questions or repeat requests. However, don’t seek advice about something you should already know. If you aren’t sure about how to parallel park, your instructor will not give you guidance. In fact, you may be asked to retake your driving test if you are unable to parallel park on your own.

18. Put Headlights On

No matter the weather or amount of light, it’s a good idea to put your headlights on. This is especially imperative when it’s raining, nighttime, or snowing (don’t take your test in the snow, for the love of all that’s holy).

19. Use the Parking Brake

When parking, initiate your emergency parking brake. This is particularly important when parking on hills or any form of incline. Just don’t forget to disengage the parking brake before driving.

20. Come to Complete Stops

Rolling stops are illegal, even though they’re rarely enforced. However, your instructor is sure to note any non-complete stop you make. At stop signs, even when no other vehicles are waiting, you should come to a complete stop (feel the car settle back after coming to rest) for at least 2 seconds. Look both ways before accelerating.

Also, you shouldn’t stop in a crosswalk. Always come to a stop before any solid line.

21. Don’t Be the Hare or Tortoise

Drive the speed limit. Do not drive above the speed limit. Do not go below 5 mph of the speed limit, unless traffic or weather makes it necessary.

Doing any of the above could dock points off your driving exam, let alone get you an automatic fail.

22. Change Lanes Properly

You need to indicate your intention to change lanes by flipping on your turn signal. Before changing lanes, you’ll need to look in your side-view mirror and turn to look directly at your blind spot or blind zone. Merge when safe to do so.

23. Practice Defensive Driving

Instructors will monitor your ability to visualize what other drivers intend to do before they do them. This is defensive driving in a nutshell; drivers who are most alert can defend themselves from drivers who are not alert.

Personally, I like to consider the worst possible action that a driver could take in each scenario, then choose what I should be doing to avoid danger if that scenario plays out. Call me a pessimist, but it’s worked so far (knock on wood).

24. Look Both Ways at Intersections

My mother always told me, “Just because the light is green doesn’t mean you’re safe.” Right-of-way means nothing if other drivers aren’t following the rules or paying attention. Always check in all directions before crossing an intersection, especially if you’re the first off the line, as it were.

25. Don’t Change Lanes at an Intersection

Similarly, it’s illegal to make a lane-change in an intersection. Other vehicles at the intersection may be turning right into your lane – right turns are legal at intersections if the vehicle ends up in the right-most lane.

26. Give Vehicles Space at Stops

When coming to a stop behind another vehicle, be sure to give them adequate space. The other vehicle’s rear tires should be fully visible to you. This provides them enough room to re-maneuver if necessary; for instance, if a large bus or fire truck is attempting to turn, the other driver can back up and pull over to the side.

27. Have Proof of Insurance & Vehicle Registration

Your vehicle needs to be owned by you or your guardian, and you should have adequate auto insurance. Bring all the documents with you when arriving for your DMV test. 

28. Know Cyclist Hand Signals

Cyclists share the road with cars, and as such they must follow the same rules as drivers. Considering how common it is to see cyclists riding these days, it’s important for new teenage drivers to know what the cycling hand signals are. Review them here.

29. Always Stop for Emergency Vehicles

Always pull over and stop for emergency vehicles, including police cars, fire trucks, ambulances, and tow trucks. Even if they’re approaching from the opposite side of the road, you should pull over.

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30. Drive a Safe and Reliable Vehicle

Perhaps the best driving test tip is to have a safe vehicle at your disposal. Old clunkers just don’t cut it these days, and your instructor knows if your car is below the grade.

Parents: This is your cue to get your teen a vehicle that keeps them protected. Try a Hyundai! They’re affordable yet packed with all the modern safety features any driver would need, like Blind-Spot Collision Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, and even Driver Attention Warning, which notifies your teen if they appear to be drowsy or driving inattentively.

Put your money to good use by investing in Hyundai SmartSense. Contact Braman Hyundai in Miami at (786) 623-4261 to schedule a test drive in a used or new Hyundai. Whether you’re looking for an Elantra or a new Kona SUV, we’ll help you choose the best vehicle for your teen, just in time for back-to-school season.


Sources:

hyundaiusa.com/why-hyundai/safety.aspx

flhsmv.gov/resources/handbooks-manuals/

nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/files/steeringtechniques.pdf

ilovebicycling.com/cycling-hand-signals/
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