Basic Driving

Initial Steps

Walk around your vehicle and inspect it. This may impress your Driving Instructor on the day of the test. 

1.Remove anything blocking the view in your vehicle.
2.Adjust the seat.
3.Adjust the inside and outside mirrors for proper vision.
4.Fasten Seat Belt.
5.Make sure the Car is in the Park or Neutral Gear.

Buckle Up, It’s Probably the Law.

Classification of Seat Belts for Children

Birth to 20 lbs. – rear facing car seat 
20 lbs to 2 yrs. – federally approved car seat 
3-4 yrs. – booster seat with restraints 
5 yrs. and over – seat belts
Never buckle yourself and a child in the same seatbelt.
The back middle seat in a car is safer than the front seat.

Vehicle Condition

1.Tires with less than 1/16 tread are probably unsafe.
2.Brakes that pull to one side upon stopping need to be checked.
3.Brake lights/tail lights/headlights must be clean and operating properly.
4.Steering – If the wheel moves 2 inches without moving the car, the wheel has too much play.

Key Points of Driver Safety

  • Drowsiness is the first step in falling asleep at the wheel
  • Partial hydroplaning starts at 35 mph up to 55 mph, which is when tires may loose all contact on the roadway after a heavy or prolonged rain
  • Drive looking 10-15 sec. ahead
  • Take in the whole scene
  • There are two Blind Spots to the left and right (back sides) of your car. You must turn your head to clear these blind spots

“Space Cushion”

1.Don’t drive alongside other cars on multi-lane streets.
2.Drive in the center lane
3.Make room for vehicles entering highways

Clues for Passing Parked Cars

1.Smoke from the Tailpipe 
2.Red brake lights on, turning signal on, white backing lights on 
3.Front wheels turning out 

Vision is obstructed if you close in too close behind the vehicle you are passing.

If being passed, slow your speed a little, and pull over to the right as far as you safely can.

Stopping Distance Factors

1.Your reaction time 
2.Weather and road conditions
3.Weight of the vehicle
4.Condition of the brakes
5.Condition/type of tires

Stopping Distance: Eye to Brain to Foot to Wheel to Road


Thinking Distance

Braking Distance



27 ft

34.7 ft

61.7 ft


38 ft

68 ft

106 ft


49 ft

112.5 ft

161.5 ft


60 ft

168 ft

228 ft


71 ft

234.7 ft.

305.7 ft

“2 second rule”

If you are following closer than 2-sec. worth of travel time you are too close to the vehicle/object.

“Y turning rule”

When turning around on a narrow street use the “three point” or “Y” turning principle.

Parking on Hills

Parking on hills use the following 3 principles:

1.If facing downhill, turn the wheels toward the curb and shift into reverse or park.
2.If facing up, turn the wheels away from the curb and shift into park or low gear.
3.Always set the emergency brake.

Parallel Parking Steps

1.Signal; stop parallel to the front car (about 18 inches from it), with rear bumpers even.
2.Back slowly, turning steering wheel sharply to the right until your car is about a 45-degree angle with the street. Straighten front wheels and back slowly.
3.When the front bumper is even with other car’s back bumper, turn wheels sharply and rapidly to the left. Back slowly toward the car behind you without touching it.
4.Turn steering wheel sharply to the right and slowly pull forward. Finished.

Front/Rear Bumper must be at least 2 feet from the other vehicles unless marked otherwise on the street.

State law typically requires headlights (not just parking lights) to be on between sunset and sunrise. You must use lower headlights if within 500 feet of an approaching vehicle or following within 200 feet of another vehicle.

Motorcycle Research

Two-thirds of the car/motorcycle accidents are the result of a car driver turning in front of a motorcyclist. 
Motorcycles are allowed the full width of a lane in which to maneuver.


Blind or partially blind pedestrians have the right of way. If a person has a white cane, or seeing-eye dog, he cannot see you, so you must help him. Slow down or stop to let him cross safely.

Pedestrians should always walk facing traffic.
Pedestrians have the right of way in the following situations:

1. Walking on a marked crosswalk 
2. When crossing an intersection with a green traffic signal or walk signal
3. Over a vehicle making a right turn on red


At night should have front light and rear reflectors. Avoid passing between a vehicle and bicyclist.
Bicyclist should ride as near to right side of the pavement as practicable. Two cyclists may ride side-by side in most states.

Traffic Laws and Regulations

Maximum speed limits are not to be exceeded. At night or in bad weather with an excessive speed means you are often over driving your headlights.

Lane Changing

1.Check in your rear view and side mirrors.
2.Look over you shoulder and clear your blind spot.
3.Check for other drivers who may be moving into the same lane.
4.Signal your intentions to other drivers.

Passing Left

You must complete the passing maneuver before coming within 100 feet of any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction.

Against the law to pass another vehicle when:

1.View is blocked by a hill or curve.
2.Solid Yellow Line in Your Lane
3.Within one hundred feet of an intersection or a railroad crossing
4.Within 100 feet of a bridge or tunnel

Passing Right

1.Legal but can be dangerous if the other driver does not see you and decides to change lanes
2.Never pass on the shoulder of the road

School Buses

Must stop 30 feet from a stopped school bus that is loading or unloading children. 
Cannot pass the bus unless it is in loading/unloading zone completely off the road or the road is divided by the following:

2.Grassy Median
3.Elevated Concrete Barrier
4.Another Obstacle that prevents traffic from driving thereon.

Signaling and Turning

Must signal and get into the proper lane at least 100 feet before making the turn.
Always finish your turn in the proper lane.

You may use mechanical signal lights or the left arm with signaling, such as:

1.Arm bent up is for a right turn.
2.Arm straight is for a left turn.
3.Arm bent downward is for slowing down or stopping.

Illegal to do the following:

1.Signal another vehicle to pass you with a turn signal
2.Illegal to flash your turn signals on just one side of a parked or disabled vehicle
3.Turn around while on a hill or in a curve where your vehicle cannot be seen by other drivers approaching from either direction within 500 feet.


Never Insist on taking the right-of-way.
The Right-of-Way Belongs to the following:
If two vehicles approach an intersection at the same time, the driver on the right has the right-of-way.
At yield signs, slow down to a reasonable speed and stop if required. Proceed ahead only if you can do so without interfering with approaching traffic.
The driver making a left turn must yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic, including bicyclists.
Must yield to emergency vehicles, pull over the right edge of the roadway clear of intersections; STOP until the emergency vehicle has passed.

Parallel Parking

Vehicle’s right wheel must be within 18 inches of the right-hand curb. It is against the law to park in the following areas:
1.On a sidewalk
2.In front of a driveway
3.In an intersection
4.Within 15 feet of a fire hydrant or within 50 feet or a railroad crossing
5.Within 20 feet of a crosswalk at an intersection
6.Within 20 feet of a fire station driveway on the same side of the street, or within 75 feet of the driveway on the other side of the street
7.Beside a parallel parked vehicle
8.On a bridge, overpass, or in any tunnel
9.At any place where official signs prohibit parking

Railroad Grade Crossings

Most state laws require that the driver of any motor vehicle stop within 50 feet but no less than 15 feet from the nearest rail of a railroad crossing when:
1.Signal device is flashing and a train is approaching.
2.Crossing Gate is lowered.
3.Train gives a warning signal.
4.Train is approaching so closely as to create an immediate hazard.

After stopping, the driver shall not proceed to cross the tracks until he can do so safely.
Never stop a vehicle on railroad tracks. If your vehicle is going to be hit by a train, get out and move TOWARDS the train away from the tracks.
Railroad crossing markings are white markings painted in the traffic lane before railroad crossings. The pavement is marked with a large “X” and two “R’s”. This is a no passing zone. 
Railroad Crossbucks signs will be found at most crossings. The driver should slow down and be prepared to stop upon sighting a train. If there is more than one track, a sign below the crossbuck indicates the number of tracks.
Drivers of vehicles carrying passengers for hire, school buses or trucks, or any vehicle carrying explosives or flammable liquids must stop at railroad crossings.
Flashing light signals are used with crossbuck signs at many railroad crossings. Always stop when the lights are flashing because a train is coming. Do not proceed until you can do so safely. A second train could be coming from the other direction.
Always look both ways as you approach a railroad crossing, even if the warning lights are not flashing. They may not be working.
Never shift gears on the crossing.
Never drive around the railroad crossing gates. It’s against the law to drive through or around any crossing gate at a railroad crossing.

Additional Laws

Backing up is not permitted on any shoulder or roadway of any controlled-access highway. It is also prohibited at any other place unless it can be done safely without interfering with traffic.
It is against the law for more than three persons to occupy the front seat of a moving vehicle. You must not drive a vehicle that is overloaded with passengers of any other thing that will obstruct your view in any direction or interfere with your control of the vehicle.
Having non-transparent material upon the window glass of any vehicle is unlawful.
Don’t open your door on the traffic side unless it is clear to do so.
Riding in a horse trailer is not allowed while moving on a highway.
Coasting down a hill in neutral gear is illegal.
Cannot follow closer than 500 feet to an emergency vehicle that is responding to a call.
Do not cross any unprotected fire department hose unless consent is given by an official of the fire department.
Littering in most states can result in a fine not less than $100, and you may be required to participate in a local highway clean-up campaign for at least 2 hours.

Interstate Driving

Entrance ramp leads to an acceleration lane. Do not move slowly to the end of the entrance ramp and stop. Start your turn signal to warn other drivers. Do not stop in the acceleration lane unless traffic is too heavy, and there is no space for you to enter safely. Don’t forget that traffic on the interstate has the right-of-way. Never travel faster than the legal speed limit. Stay in the right hand lane unless overtaking and passing, making an exit to the left, or letting another vehicle enter. A merge sign may present at the entrance point. 
If you stopped on the side of the road, turn on your 4-way emergency warning lights. At night, use flares or reflectors if broken down.
If you miss your exit, do not back up, and do not stop. 
Wait until you are fully in the deceleration lane, then reduce speed to the posted ramp speed. 

Driving in Fog

If the fog is so dense that it impairs your vision, you should not drive in it at all. You are risking your life driving 10-20 mph on the interstate, and it is unsafe.