Whether you’re just starting to think about drivers education, are already taking in-car driving lessons or are almost ready for your road test, you might have one thing on your mind: “Exactly what’s on the road test, anyway?”
We’re here to give you an idea of how to prepare for the road test, what to expect during the road test and importantly, how to pass the road test.
The Road Test Basics: How Long Will it Take and What Will Be Assessed?
The first thing to be aware of: the DMV road test does vary between states. Therefore, exact timings and assessments will differ from state to state, but the road test might be shorter than you think.
Dylan Russell, Regional Operations Manager for DriversEd.com in Georgia, said: “The test in most U.S. states takes 10-15 minutes to complete and is the most basic assessment of a driver’s ability to control a vehicle. Interestingly, many people call our office all the time simply asking if we can teach them how to parallel park or pass the road test, even though they have no basic driving experience.
“The answer I’ve always provided to potential clients is ‘As a by-product of our all-encompassing methodology of instruction, passing a simple road test will not be an issue for you. Our goal is to ensure you have the fundamental skills to interpret your driving environment and make the correct decision each time you are behind the wheel.’
“Passing the road test and getting a license does not mean someone is, by default, a ‘safe and crash-free driver.’ We need to ensure everyone understands the importance of obtaining the correct type of driving experience.”
So, what does this mean for you? It means, learning to drive should be about learning to drive safe, and drive SMART. The goal is not simply to pass that road test. Although, passing the test is of course an important milestone on the journey to a lifetime of safe driving.
How to Prepare for the Road Test
As with any test, the road test requires preparation. Make sure you have plenty of sleep the night before, try to remain calm and leave yourself plenty of time to get to your appointment early.
To be able to take the road test, you’ll need to have the following:
• A registered vehicle in good operating condition
• Proof of registration and insurance for the vehicle
• Valid learner’s permit
• Proof of your completed and signed parent/teen driving log, if applicable *
• Certification of completion of drivers education, if applicable *
Some states have additional requirements. For example, in Texas, you’ll need to take your Certificate of Completion of ITTD Impact Video and DL40 form/have a parent sign for permission for you to take the test. In Georgia, you’ll need to take Alcohol Drug Awareness Program (ADAP) certification and school attendance record to your road test.
*State requirements vary; always check with your local DMV office.
Vehicle Knowledge for the Road Test
Being familiar with your vehicle and how to operate the controls is at the heart of safe, SMART driving. And that’s why your knowledge of your vehicle will be assessed during your road test!
In the road test, you will most likely be asked to demonstrate things like:
• Turning on the windshield wipers
• Turning on the headlights
• Switching the heaters on and off
Of course, by the time you take your road test, you should have spent hours and hours behind that wheel – in all traffic and weather conditions – so will already be extremely familiar with all of your vehicle’s controls.
Basic Maneuvers on the Road Test
During the road test, your examiner will want to see evidence that you can perform basic maneuvers – these shows that you are able to control your vehicle. You’ll usually head to a parking lot or a quiet residential area, where the road test examiner will ask you to perform maneuvers such as:
• Starting and stopping
• Acceleration and braking
• Backing up
• Using signals
• Parallel parking
• Checking mirrors
Evaluation of Driving Skills on the Road Test
The road test examiner will want to see how you drive on roads with other traffic. This demonstrates your ability to share the road safely with others, respond to road signs and traffic signals and also adapt your driving behavior to suit conditions.
Usually, the road test examiner will be assessing driving skills such as how you:
• Change lanes
• Approach corners/intersections
• Make a left turn
• Make a right turn
The road test examiner might also assess your understanding of right of way, traffic signals and traffic signs. The examiner might even want to see evidence of the correct posture when driving, so be sure to sit in a way that enables you to safely control your vehicle and see around you as clearly as possible.
Demonstrating Knowledge During the Road Test
It is important to remember that road test examiners are not only making assessments each time they ask you to do something. They are also very alert to your attitude and your knowledge of the road environment. You’ll be expected to demonstrate a safe following distance without being asked to, for example. And you’ll also be expected to automatically fasten your safety belt and hold the steering wheel with both hands.
You’re unlikely to know which roads your examiner will use for your road test until the test itself, so you need to be confident in all driving situations. This includes:
• Driving through school zones
• Knowing how to respond to school buses with flashing lights
• Dealing with emergency vehicles
• Stopping at railroad crossings
• Handling a traffic jam
• Giving way to pedestrians
• Merging safely
• Using roundabouts
If you are not 100% comfortable in every driving situation, not just those listed above, you might want to practice driving a bit more before signing up for the road test.
REMEMBER: Being a Safe Driver Extends Beyond the Requirements of the Road Test
Taking any test can be nerve-wracking. But taking your road test shouldn’t be. Why? Because, if you’ve completed all the steps required by your state and fulfilled way beyond the minimum teen-parent driving hours, you should have gained more than enough driving experience to prepare you for the road test.
Kris Kluis, Regional Driving Instructor Trainer & Recruiter for DriversEd.com, said: “Our goal is to create crash-free drivers for life vs. just passing the little road test. Therefore, the best thing our instructors can do is focus more on crash-free tips and techniques vs. intense focus on the road test.
“Of course, we do prepare students for the road test. In California, toward the end of lesson #3 (or the 6th hour), our instructors go over our road test sheet in detail. This test sheet is very similar to what the road test examiner will have and grade them on during the actual road test. The sheet is also left with the students and parents to have for future reference. They can ask any questions they like about it, so there is no secret about what is going to be expected of them on the road test.
“Even though a student might not realize it, our lesson plans prepare them for the skills that are expected on the road test. However, our focus remains firmly on crash-free driving, rather than simply the mindset of just passing the test.”
Want to find out more about learning to drive and preparing for the road test? Click here.
Got any questions? Just drop us a line here.
[Written by DriversEd.com Contributing Writer Grace Keller, who will be keeping an ongoing drivers ed diary for us, detailing her experiences going through one of our online drivers ed courses. Check out her first entry here.]
Since I got my permit back in the spring, on most mornings, I drive to school with my mom in the passenger’s seat. First, I drop my younger brother off at his bus stop, then I’ll drive to my school, pulling into the drop-off lane, then switching places with my mom so I can go to school and she can drive herself to work in Washington D.C. Since I’m passing by two different schools (one where my brother’s bus stop is located, and my own school) I see two different “school zone” speed limit signs, telling me to slow down since I’m in an area where there may be children crossing the streets, unaware of possible risks. These signs, as Lesson #2, Signs, Signals, and Markings, of my online drivers ed course taught me, mean that there is a reduced speed limit when there are children present.
Currently, I’m on the 3rd lesson module of my course—Being Fit To Drive. This lesson, so far, has educated me more on when I should and should not be driving. Two times in the past, I have had panic attacks while driving and pulled over so my mom and I could switch seats and she could drive instead. I’m now realising that while at the time, these actions of deciding not to drive the car seemed like acts of weakness and incapacity, in reality, this is exactly what a good driver should do. It’s crucial that you are in a stable emotional and physical state before you decide to drive a vehicle, as I’m now learning while taking this online course. Before I even learned about how my cell phone can distract me from driving, I would make sure to keep it away from where I could see or hear it, whether that be in my backpack thrown into the backseat somewhere, or in my mom’s pocket in the passenger seat. I know now that this is what I should keep doing, since 21% of teen drivers involved in car accidents are distracted by their cell phones. In order to be a safe, capable driver once I can finally get my driver’s license, I’m going to make sure to not use my cell phone while behind the wheel. I’ll also be sure not to let passengers in the car, loud music from the radio, adjusting my car controls, or anything else distract me from my driving. Lesson #3 teaches me that to be a good driver, you have to be an alert driver.
I’d like to think that I’m a pretty good driver right now, but in reality, I still have quite a ways to go in my education as a teenage driver. I hope to finish Lesson #3, Being Fit to Drive, by the end of this coming week! I can hardly wait to further my abilities as a driver, so that I can be more calm and confident behind the wheel.
If you’re starting to think about taking online drivers ed, you might have a few questions. Like, ‘What will I learn from an online drivers education course?’, ‘How do I know whether a course is right for me?’ and ‘What makes the best online drivers ed course anyway?’ eDriving’s Lead Curriculum Developer, Shawn Saler, explains exactly what you can expect from a DriversEd.com course.
Tell us what you do, Shawn.
I’ve been working at eDriving since 2011. One of my main responsibilities is developing new online courses and maintaining and updating existing courses for DriversEd.com.
The courses I help develop for DriversEd.com enable students to take drivers education online, which can be more flexible and convenient than studying in the classroom. The courses are state-approved and cover all the material taught in a classroom course.
When do teens usually take online drivers ed?
Usually, prior to applying for their learner’s permit and before they take their first professional driving lesson or, at the very least, to coincide with their first professional driving lessons. Most teens start online drivers ed at 14 or 15, depending on the state.
In your opinion, what makes a great online drivers ed course?
It’s important that the course is easy to use and that every aspect of the course builds confidence. It’s also critical that the course is accurate, that lessons are clear and thorough but not overly detailed where they don’t need to be.
What will teens learn by taking a DriversEd.com course?
The courses we offer are broadly based on standard national drivers ed curricula that were developed by national driving safety organizations to provide a systematic course of instruction. This covers the topics that all drivers need to know, whichever state they live in, including basic driving skills, rules of the road, how to drive on city streets, freeways, and other roadway types, how to share the road with other vehicles, such as motorcycles and large trucks, and important issues such as distraction, aggression, impaired driving, and speeding.
Our state-approved courses are designed to ensure that they fully cover the specific rules of the road for each state, as well as address common driving situations and conditions local drivers might encounter. We go beyond the basics to make sure our students gain a thorough understanding of what it’s like to drive where they live. This includes local environments, roadway types and state-specific risk factors.
How often do you develop new online drivers ed courses?
Whenever a state’s policies allow us to offer an online drivers ed course, we will design a course specific to that state. We carry out extensive research before we even begin designing a course. The most recent online drivers ed course we developed was for Wisconsin.
How often are existing online drivers ed courses updated?
We want our students, and their parents, to be confident that our online drivers ed courses are giving them information that is both relevant to their state AND relevant at the exact time they are taking the course. Because of this our courses are constantly evolving.
What does a DriverEd.com online drivers ed course look like?
Our courses have a strong visual aspect as well as a strong written aspect. They include a variety of interactions, activities, animations and movies. We’re very aware that people learn in different ways and we want to make sure we are employing a range of strategies so our online courses provide every student with a great experience.
We continue to develop and employ new interactive elements to help simulate the actual experience of driving, and we have a number of exciting plans for the coming year.
How confident are you that students will retain what they learn in a DriverEd.com course?
We have a strong commitment to making sure we don’t just explain WHAT to do when driving but WHY to do things in a certain way.
The images and visuals help make sure we are not overloading the student with too much information at any one time. Visuals are an effective way of helping students remember the material.
And how do you know DriversEd.com courses give students all the information they need to prepare for driving?
At eDriving, we have unique access to DriversEd.com’s professional driving instructors, so our courses can be vetted by the experts. These are driving professionals who are on the road day in, day out, seeing the exact issues we’re talking about in our courses. When we put together new courses, we’re able to draw on the expertise of a strong team that collectively possesses hundreds of years of knowledge and driving wisdom! The dedicated e-learning team takes this knowledge and applies their understanding of the ways people learn best to produce thorough and effective courses.
Tell us a little about the actual process of taking an online DriversEd.com course.
One of the things that has always been a feature of DriversEd.com courses is that students can take our courses on their computer, laptop, tablet or phone. They get the same course however they are taking it and can pick up exactly where they left off, even when switching between devices.
This is an important factor to many people, being able to take it at their own convenience. Some students want to study just 20 minutes a day for several months. Some want to progress through the course more quickly. One advantage of online drivers ed is that it is more convenient than having to go to the classroom. In high school, teens have so much going on that adding just one more fixed responsibility can be a disruption. Being able to take their online drivers ed course at their leisure is very important to many teens, and their parents too.
Can you sum up a DriverEd.com online course in five words?
Quality, expert, comprehensive, engaging, interactive.
Interested in taking one of our drivers ed courses? Find out more.
[Written by contributing writer Amy Tarczynski.]
It’s finals week for most colleges, meaning that a lot of us are several exams and many cups of coffee away from finally going home for the winter break. I don’t have a car at school, so going home also means driving again. Before I jump back in the car, there are a few things I’m reminding myself to consider. Whether you’ve taken a few months off driving or this is your first winter behind the wheel, keep these tips in mind as you gear up for driving around the holidays:
Plan for unexpected traffic. As people get busy with holiday shopping, gift-buying, and travelling, the roads get busy too. Give yourself a little extra time to go places so that atypical traffic jams don’t ruin your holiday spirit.
Watch out for road rage. Not everyone will plan ahead for the extra congestion. If you encounter stressed-out drivers on the road with you, understand that they are probably just overwhelmed by the strain of the season. Your best response in the situation is to leave them plenty of space and be as polite as possible. It also would not hurt to brush up on your defensive driving techniques.
Be ready for the weather. If you are dreaming of a white Christmas, be ready to take extra precautions for driving in the snow. Remember that slush reduces the traction of your tires on the road, so avoid fast turns and quick stops.
Don’t drive on New Year’s Eve. As the 31st approaches, make sure you have a plan for your transportation that night. New Year’s Eve is one of the worst nights of the year for accidents caused by drunk driving. If you can avoid driving after midnight, do. If you must drive, watch out for drunk drivers. You can spot them if you notice drivers swerving, braking erratically, not using their headlights, or even driving way below the speed limit. Your plan of action here should be to create distance between you and the driver. Then, when it is safe, pull over to call 911. You might end up saving someone’s life–and that’s a not a bad way to start off the New Year.
Excited. Nervous. A mixture of the two? However you’re feeling about your first in-car driving lesson, it might help to have an idea of what to expect. We can help with that.
Here are ten things that are likely to happen during your very first in-car driving lesson.
1. You’ll need to show your license.
To legally be allowed to drive during your first in-car driving lesson, your instructor will ask to see your learner’s permit or student license. At DriversEd.com, you must carry it with you every lesson.
2. You won’t jump straight into the driver’s seat.
No need to worry about your friends videoing you driving off for the very first time. Your instructor will drive you away from your pick-up location to either a parking lot or other quiet residential area.
3. Your nerves won’t get the better of you.
It’s normal to feel anxious about your first lesson. But, your instructor is trained to put you at ease so learning can take place. Take a deep breath and relax. You’ll soon find yourself enjoying the drive.
4. You’ll look in the mirror. A lot.
During your first in-car driving lesson, the instructor will discuss the car’s instruments and controls. And, you’ll discover why the mirror is important. So important that you can expect your instructor to discuss it in even more detail during another lesson.
5. You WILL drive.
Of course you will – it’s what you’ve been waiting for! But during your first in-car driving lesson, you won’t have to worry about other cars or traffic. You’ll get to try out a few basic maneuvers and learn some important techniques. These are techniques that will set you up for a lifetime of safe driving.
6. You might switch seats. Several times.
At DriversEd.com, our instructors know that you learn not just by listening through your ears, but by observing skills and actions performed correctly. That’s why you might switch sides with your instructor several times. If this happens, watch carefully. Whether it be showing you how to hold the steering wheel, do a smooth start or stop or use your eyes, you can’t beat a real-life demo combined with explanations on paper.
7. You won’t drive for miles and miles.
You’ll probably only cover a total of 4-6 miles during your first in-car driving lesson, sometimes less, sometimes a bit more. You will not just be “driving around,” but will experience lots of pulling over, where the car will turn into your classroom.
8. You can ask as many questions as you like.
Don’t understand something? That’s normal. During your first in-car driving lesson, you’re almost certain to have questions. Ask your instructor about anything you do not understand or do not feel comfortable with. Even better, ask them to show you. Believe it or not, your instructor can learn a lot from you too!
9. You won’t be alone.
You + your instructor = a great TEAM! Remember, your instructor is highly trained and wants to help you succeed. And they do have an instructor brake which they can use if need be, so rest assured your instructor will be there, for whatever reason!
10. You’ll get a personalized report.
At DriversEd.com, our instructors evaluate your progress after your very first in-car driving lesson, and every subsequent in-car driving lesson. They then put together a personalized report which you and your parents can access online. So, even though your parents already know how great you are, you can now give them something else to be proud of!
First-lesson nerves. What nerves? Hopefully you’re now feeling a little more prepared for that first in-car driving lesson.
Still need to sign up? Click here to get started today.
[By DriversEd.com Contributing Writer Christina Tynan-Wood]
Want to get your teen to stop playing video games and go outside? Here’s a trick that always works: Walk into the game room. Jingle the car keys to get his attention. Ask, “Want to drive the car?” You might get panic. You might get enthusiasm. You might get a hug. But you will definitely get his attention. And if he jumps up and puts his shoes on, you have to be ready to follow through.
If this is his first time behind the wheel, this might be one of those parent/child moments neither of you forget. So calm down and be patient. You don’t want to hear the story of how you freaked out, screamed, and made him panic and crash the car over Thanksgiving dinner for the rest of your days. He will be nervous. So you should be calm. Pat yourself on the back now for the valiant effort you are bringing to this. And then use our expert plan to make sure this first drive goes well.
I asked Keith Russell, regional director for DriversEd.com, I Drive Safely, and eDriving and Hale Gammill, director of driving school operations for Southern California’s eDriving, what they would do if they were taking your teen out for this first drive. Naturally, they offered terrific pointers. These guys are the foremost experts on driver education and traffic safety in America. So you’ve got this. All you have to do is follow this plan.
Before You Start Practicing Driving in a Parking Lot
Start in the Driveway
You said, “Drive the car.” You didn’t promise a hot lap on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Sitting in the driver’s seat is a big deal. So start in the driveway and introduce him to the controls in this completely unfamiliar cockpit he is about to helm. And remember that every future drive will start right here in the driveway. So let him get it right. Work on backing straight down your driveway. When he’s got that, let him get out of the driveway and practice turning left and then right.
Before he begins backing, make him take a thorough look around the vehicle. Environmental awareness doesn’t necessarily come naturally. So reinforce that it is his job—no one else’s—to ensure there are no toys, bikes, or kids around. Clear? The next lesson is to look only in the direction he’s traveling. That means looking to the rear of the car the entire time he’s backing up until he comes to a complete stop. This is a necessary habit to build. Feel free to repeat till he gets it right.
He doesn’t want to drive fast. Not yet. Not in reverse. Not even if he claims he does. This should all happen in slow motion. He is learning and he needs to maintain complete control of the car. He can drape his right arm behind the front passenger seat but he should have his left hand at the very top of the steering wheel. If he is too short to see, he might need to lift his body off the seat for better rear viewing. Make him stop at the end of the driveway before going in either direction. Remind him to look in both directions before backing onto the street. Then look one last time—just to be sure—before proceeding.
Practicing Driving in a Parking Lot
Beginning with Parking Lots
Next, let your teen drive to a quiet local parking lot. The lesson for the road portion of this drive is how to constantly scan the road while driving. Explain that he should begin a new scanning pattern every twelve to fifteen seconds. That pattern looks like this: Look straight ahead, glance in the rear view mirror, look straight ahead, glance at the left side mirror, look straight ahead, glance at the right side mirror, look straight ahead. Repeat. And he must do this while always remaining aware of what is in front and behind him. This is a very important part of defensive driving and environmental awareness.
Once you are at the parking lot, practice a quick stop. It seems simple. But it’s important. Stopping should eventually be so familiar that it comes naturally—whatever the situation. Today, do this at ten—or even five—miles an hour. First explain that his foot should pivot off the accelerator to the brake pedal and that looking down at his feet is not allowed. Reaction time is important here so practice this until it’s easy. Then, get up to today’s slow speed and… Stop! Do it again. Practice makes perfect. Feel free to come back to this one again and again.
If you’ve got a nice empty parking lot, use the rows of parking spaces to practice making right and left turns. Look for smooth turns with even speed control. He’s going too fast if he has to brake excessively and too slow if he’s hitting the accelerator. Remind him to use the turn signal, even though there are no cars. You are building an important habit. So pretend there’s city traffic behind you and explain how to give an early warning of at least 100 feet.
Plan to Do It Again
That was fun, right? Maybe even more fun than a video game. Your teen learned something about driving. You learned something about your teen. And, while this is a bittersweet moment for parents—this is a big step toward adulthood—getting over this hump has some real perks. Pretty soon, he will be able to run to the store to pick up groceries. So, before either of you get tired or annoyed, call it a day and plan to do it again soon.
Christina Tynan-Wood is a freelance writer living in Northern California. She covers technology, cars, and parenting for national magazines and blogs at GeekGirlfriends.com.
[Written by contributing writer Amy Tarczynski.]
Mindfulness. Perhaps you know about it, or maybe it’s that term you have heard thrown around in your yoga class. If you’re not yet familiar, it’s a simple concept. Basically, it’s about bringing your attention to the current moment and simply recognizing what is going on around you and in your mind.
Anyone who wants to learn about the practice, or realize some of the holistic health benefits that come with it, could read books full of 8-week plans, enroll in a class, or take up meditation as a daily routine. But ever since I learned about mindfulness, I have wondered if there’s a shortcut application—a way I can leverage some of the beneficial aspects of mindfulness in my own life without having to think about it all the time. It turns out that’s the great thing about the practice—you can do it anytime, anyplace. All it requires is awareness.
I discovered that driving is the perfect setting for practicing mindfulness. It started when just a few months into getting my license, I was in a car accident–with a parked car. Rushing to a job interview, I tried to parallel park by pulling FORWARDS into a spot, inevitably bumping into the innocent car next to me. Oops. I was able to leave a note for the driver and speak to her when I returned after my meeting, but my mistake still weighed on me. Later on, I realized that the stress of rushing to the interview and frantically searching for parking had demanded so much of my attention that it had clouded my driving ability.
We deal with stress each day while driving. Most of the time, pressures like traffic, bad drivers, and even parked cars present unavoidable little tests to our abilities. The question is, how can we respond to these challenges without becoming blind to our own mental strain?
My response has been to become more aware of my own natural response to everyday troubles on the road. Again, mindful driving is such a simple intention that you could almost call it “mindfulness-lite.” I am merely making a point to take conscious notice of my automatic reactions. Granted, I may be more of a worrywart than most. But take it from someone who constantly gets nervous on the road—simply noticing your own stress when it arises helps you prevent it from getting the better of you (and in case you saw my last post, it helps you avoid texting and driving too).
[Written by DriversEd.com Contributing Writer Grace Keller, who will be keeping an ongoing drivers ed diary for us, detailing her experiences going through one of our online drivers ed courses]
I’m currently on Lesson #2—Signs, Signals, and Markings—of my online driver’s ed course. In this lesson, I’ve been learning all about different road markings, right-of-way laws, traffic control devices, and of course, all types of road signs. Until now, I didn’t even know that they were separated into three distinct categories—regulatory, guide, and warning. The further into my online course I’m getting, the more confident I feel about going out onto the road. Even though my course is online and not in a traditional classroom, I’m still getting all of the vital knowledge I need as a teenage driver.
Lesson #1 taught me about how being allowed to drive is not a right, it’s a privilege. It also taught me all about being an organ donor and the benefits of it, how to get and keep a drivers license, and how to take financial responsibility as a teen driver. My mom was extremely impressed when I told her about all I’ve learned so far taking this course—I think it’s making her feel much better about letting me drive with her in the car.
Did you know that over 98,000 people nationally are on a waiting list for organ and tissue donation? I’m definitely going to be an organ donor when I can finally take the behind-the-wheel test to get my drivers license. I may not have even known about this option if it hadn’t been for the great information I’m getting from doing my course.
I’m glad I chose to take my drivers ed course online, since I’m always so busy between school, extracurriculars, and social activities like hanging out with my friends. I’ll also never have to worry about making up a class if I miss it, since I get to decide when I start each lesson! Even just a couple lessons in, I’m already seeing the benefits of getting to choose where and when I do my classes, along with what pace it goes at. I usually tend to prefer a much slower pace, so that I can fully understand what I’m being taught, but DriversEd.com has proven to explain things so well, with all of its visuals, like videos and pictures, and its end-of-lesson tests, that I hardly ever need to worry about whether or not I’m processing all of the information. DriversEd.com is preparing me for going out on the road by simulating real-life driving situations that I might run into, and asking me questions on how I would conduct myself in dealing with them.
I’ve hardly gotten into the course yet, but I know the further I get into it, the better it’ll be! I’m already so excited to use this knowledge in my everyday life, whether it be learning how to drive on the roads, helping out a friend who has also started their driving education, or who knows—maybe even giving my mom some reminders and pointers on what I see with my view from the backseat!
The long light evenings of summer have come to an end and it’s time to exchange that air conditioning button for your car’s heating control.
Yes, at 2 a.m. this Sunday (November 6), we officially say goodbye to summertime as the clocks go back one hour, marking the end of Daylight Saving Time for 2016 and a return to standard time.
Changing the clocks means it can be dark by late afternoon and, before long, darker in the mornings too. Darker roads mean riskier journeys, for all road users. And that’s why, as the clocks go back, we need to think about adapting the way we drive, building winter driving techniques into our existing safe driving skills.
Here are our tips for driving safe when the clocks go back:
Keep your car in tip-top condition
- Check lights, including indicators and brake lights
- Keep your car clean to help improve visibility through the windows
- Keep wiper fluid topped up so you can clear your windshield
- Now is also a great time to think about other checks, such as tire pressure, fluid levels and oil
- De-mist windows before you set off
- Pack a basic emergency kit, just in case you get into trouble
On the road
- Keep your speed right down as you are less likely to see vulnerable road users such as children, the elderly, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists in the dark
- Maintain a safe following distance, at least three seconds in good conditions
- Adapt your speed to suit the weather – it takes around twice as long to stop on wet roads and ten times as long on icy roads
- Look out for others and anticipate the actions of all road users
- Stay focused on the task at hand
- Remember that familiar routes can look different in the dark
- If you use high-beams, don’t forget to switch back to low-beams when another vehicle is approaching
Collision rates generally increase after the clocks go back and as visibility and weather conditions begin to worsen. But, with a little planning ahead you can be certain you’ll be ready for a whole new season of safe driving. You might just need to turn up that heater another notch.
Recently, a new law was signed in by California Governor Jerry Brown, which makes it ‘an offense to drive while holding and operating a cellphone or electronic communications device’.
What does this mean? It means that if you so much as pick up your phone while driving, you’ll be breaking the law. Here’s what you need to know.
While driving, it will be illegal to use your phone for activities such as:
- Taking pictures
- Streaming music
- Using messaging apps
- Using social media
- Reading a message
- Entering an address into GPS
What IS legal?
You may use your phone while driving if it’s mounted to the windshield or dash AND can be activated with just a finger swipe.
If you break the law there is a $20 fine for the first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense.
Why is the distracted driving law changing?
People use their phones to do more and more – and this is leading to dangerous behavior behind the wheel.
Assemblymaker Bill Quirk wrote the bill (AC 1785) which proposed the law. He said he wrote it to bring the law up to speed with technology.
“Technology has improved so rapidly, and our cell phones are more capable of much more than just calls and text messages. Smartphones have an abundance of available features that demand a driver’s attention, leading to very dangerous driving behavior. However, such activities are not clearly prohibited by law,” Assemblymember Quirk stated.
“This bill targets the deadliest cause of distracted driving related crashes, the use of an electronic device while driving. The accidents, injuries and deaths associated with this form of distracted driving are completely preventable. I am proud that Governor Brown has agreed that it is time that we update our archaic laws on the issue and do our part to make sure drivers are focused on the road. This bill will save lives.”
Prepare for the law – stop distracted driving now
The law comes into force in January 2017, but, of course, using your phone while driving before then is still dangerous. Our advice? Put your phone out of sight to resist temptation while driving. If it’s necessary for you to have your phone in sight, to use navigation software for example, be sure to use an approved dashboard or window mount, set up your route planning before you start driving, and make sure you can use the phone with just a swipe, so that your eyes, and your attention, can remain on the road.
We all know we shouldn’t use a cellphone while driving. It’s a distraction – and is involved in around one in four collisions. But it’s so tempting. There’s Snapchat, messaging apps, Facebook, Instagram…the list goes on and will only get bigger. And that’s exactly why the distracted driving law is getting tougher.