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Killing your Driver Examiner (And 5 Other Mistakes to Avoid on Your Road Test)

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Killing your Driver Examiner (And 5 Other Mistakes to Avoid on Your Road Test)

Jeff Kelly
July 18, 2007

If you're one of the millions of people who will take their driving test in the United States this year, chances are it's a very big deal to you. For teens, passing the driving test marks a right of passage and is one of the biggest accomplishments in a young person's life. For others, passing the road test can mean the freedom to take better care of their family or to pursue a more lucrative job.

Unfortunately, about half of those taking their test for the first time will fail. And it happens for a variety of reasons. As a former DMV examiner, I have seen just about everything that can happen on a road test. I've been in a car that has pulled in front of an oncoming semi, I've been rear-ended after stopping for no apparent reason and I've had someone hit the gas instead of the brake and plough right into the DMV building (much to the delight of my fellow examiners). I've even seen other examiners end up in the hospital. If you have a flair for the dramatic and a car that you're looking to get rid of, there are plenty of heart-stopping ways to fail your drivers test. Here are five mistakes that may seem harmless but can lead to dangerous situations.

1. Stopping in a yield.

Looking for a good way to get rear-ended and fail your driving test? Look no further. Stopping unnecessarily in a yield is a great way to write off that old clunker that mom lent you for the road test. Even if you don't get hit from behind, simply forcing the person behind you to slow or stop unnecessarily will probably get you a failure. The correct procedure? As you enter a yield to make right hand turn, look at the traffic in front of you. If it is slowing or coming to a stop, do the same. If it is not slowing or coming to a stop, look to the left to make sure that it is safe to proceed. If there is no traffic coming and it is clear in front of you, keep it moving!! On the other hand, if it isn't safe to proceed, then slow down or stop. The point is that you should keep moving if it is safe to do so. Otherwise, you may find your trunk in your back seat.

2. Signalling too soon.

If there are two streets on the right hand side of your car and the driving examiner asks you to turn at the second one, make sure that you do not signal before you are passing or have passed the first street. The reason for this? If you signal too soon, traffic waiting at the first street may see you approaching with your signal on, assume that you are turning right away and pull out in front of you. Anyone for a juicy t-bone? Ouch.

3. Signalling too late. You also don't want to signal too late. When making a turn, make sure that you signal before you start braking. This warns the car behind you that you will be slowing down and gives them extra time to prepare for it. Even if you don't cause an accident, signalling too late will cost you points on your test.

4. Hesitating.

Often, new drivers are either so nervous or so determined to show the examiner how careful they are that they hesitate to go when it is safe to do so. Sometimes they even wait for awhile, realize that they should have gone earlier and then pull out in front of oncoming traffic at the last second (kind of like a squirrel crossing thestreet). It's one thing to make sure that it is safe before proceeding. It's another thing to sit there so long that your car begins to rust. Be careful but be confident. Hesitating is not only a nuisance to other drivers but can result in a dangerous situation.

5. Backing up improperly.

This one happens A LOT, usually right at the start of the road test. If you are in a parking stall and need to back up to get out of it at the start of your test, be careful of the parked cars on either side of you. Remember that if you are looking behind you and start turning the steering wheel as soon as you begin to back up, the front end of your car will swing out sideways and hit the parked car next to you. I can't tell you how many times I had to grab the wheel out of someone's hand to prevent this from happening. It's an automatic failure so be careful. Make sure that you have backed up straight far enough so that when you turn the wheel, the front of your car will clear the car parked next to you.

Remember these five driving tips and keep both you and your examiner on the road and out of the hospital. Good luck and good driving!

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Jeff Kelly is a former DMV driver examiner who has tested thousands of new drivers. He is the author of "How to Pass Your Drivers Test: The Secrets Revealed". For more information, visit his website at http://www.driverstestsecrets.com

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