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Drivers Ed Confidential: Top Three Mistakes Student Drivers Make


Admit it—you’d give anything to know just what your driving instructor thinks of you. More specifically, you want to know exactly what your driving instructor thinks you’re going to mess up. Since we want you to succeed, we thought it would be fun to ask our staff of state-licensed driving instructors the burning question: what are the top three mistakes student drivers make? Now, this wasn’t exactly a scientific survey—but we did see a few of the same answers emerge as contenders for the top three.  So when you get behind the wheel for your driving test, try to avoid the following. Then, once you have your license, keep on avoiding the following!

Cockpit Confusion

Many of our instructors noted that quite a few students didn’t have a firm understanding of the car’s controls, and would get them confused. Mixing up the windshield wipers and the turn signal? That’s easily corrected, and usually isn’t a big deal if it happens while driving. Stepping on the gas pedal when you meant to step on the brake? That could be…problematic. The fix? Spend some time familiarizing yourself with the controls before putting the car in motion. And if you’re driving a car that you haven’t driven before, make sure you survey the dashboard and steering column so that you know where everything is and how it works. (This is something that experienced drivers should do as well.)

Use Your Turn Signal

Speaking of the turn signal, now that you know where it is, there’s no excuse for you not to use it. Yes, you should signal every time you turn—even if you’re in a clearly marked turn lane at an intersection. Signalling your intention isn’t just the courteous thing to do—it lets other drivers as well as cyclists and pedestrians know your intentions, so that they can react accordingly. This goes a long way in preventing crashes (yes, crashes—because as we’ve said, auto “accidents” are usually anything but).

Know Your Blind Spots

Blind spots vary from model to model, but every car has them, and every driver needs to check them before changing lanes, merging, or backing up. You can reduce your blind spots by adjusting your side mirrors—pushing them out so that you see more of the road, and less of the side of your car. But you still should take a glance over your shoulder to make sure your blind spots are clear. Every time.

October 19th through the 23rd is National Teen Driver Safety Week. This week, and our sister site I Drive Safely will be sharing a lot of great information aimed at teen drivers and their parents, tips that will help everyone in your family stay safe on the roads. And for teens and their parents in California and Texas, we’re offering something extra—we’re giving away over 2,000 hours’ worth of online California and Texas driver training courses! To enter to win one of the 35 iDriveSafely California Online Drivers Education Courses for novice drivers (30 hours each), California teens 14 and older can email To enter to win one of 15 Parent-Taught Drivers Education Courses for novice drivers (86 hours each), Texas teens should email  The courses have a retail value of $64.95 and $149, respectively. Find full rules for the giveaway at


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One Comment

  1. Ben Allen
    Posted December 12, 2016 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    I appreciate the information on drivers ed and what to watch out for. I would agree that one of the most important things a new driver can do is to learn their blind spots, this can really prevent a lot of accidents. My little brother is going through drivers ed, I will be sure to share this information with him.