Driving Lesson: Road Parking Tips
May 20, 2012
Parking is as much an important part of driving as driving itself. Learning how to park in different circumstances is an important part of the road test. The road test examiner may ask you to park in a parking lot space, to parallel park, or both. You need to know the proper procedures:
Signaling – Remember that you should signal your intentions at all times; even in a parking lot. Turn on your turn signal before you begin your turn into a parking space to let other drivers know what direction you are turning in. You should also signal as you exit the space to let other drivers know what direction you will be going in as you exit the space.
Parking lot– The examiner may point to a specific parking spot in the parking lot for you to park in. The spot may be lined on either side with orange cones to represent cars in the adjoining spaces. If you were to hit one of the cones, it will mean an automatic failure. Practice parking in a space by looking toward the center of the space before you begin your turn and keeping your eyes on the center of the space as you pull into the parking spot. Don’t look at the hazards on either side; look at where you want to put your car. Keep practicing until it is second nature.
Parallel parking – The examiner will point out a spot and ask you to demonstrate your ability to parallel park and, just like in the parking lot, there may be cones in front and back representing the bumpers of other cars; you don’t want to hit them. Parallel parking is really easy but it takes a lot of practice. Pull up even and about two to three feet away from the vehicle in front. Turn your wheel all the way to the right and slowly start to back up. As you come even with the rear bumper of the car next to you, start turning your wheel to the left. Once you enter the space, adjust your car so that it is parked an even distance between the car ahead and the one in the rear. You should be no more than eighteen inches from the curb.
Parking on a hill – The examiner may ask you to demonstrate or explain the procedures for parking on a hill with or without a curb.
- Downhill with or without a curb – Parking facing downhill is easy. Whether there is a curb or not, you should always turn the front wheels to the right so that, if your brakes should fail, the car will roll off of the roadway.
- Parking uphill without a curb – Parking facing uphill without a curb means you should turn your wheels to the right. Just like parking downhill, if your brakes should fail, the car will roll off of the roadway.
- Parking uphill with a curb – This is where it gets a little different. When parking facing uphill with a curb, you want to turn your front wheels to the left, toward the center of the road. Once you have turned your wheels, you will want to back up just a bit until you feel the wheels bump up against the curb. In this case, if your brakes should fail, the car’s front wheels should jam up against the curb and prevent the car from moving any further.
Parking properly is easy but it does take practice. Make sure you practice each maneuver until it becomes second nature to you before you take your road test.
Need extra practice? Take our behind the wheel road test course. It’s 100% online and shows you exactly what the examiner will be looking for.
Commit to Being a Safer Driver
April 10, 2012
Many people will make a commitment to losing weight, to do better in school, get out of debt, or join a fitness club. The sad part of making these resolutions is they are often very hard to keep and people often fail within the first few weeks or months of trying. One resolution that is easy to keep is to become a safer driver. It’s easy to achieve because licensed teenage drivers are in their vehicles every day giving them the opportunity to practice safe driving habits.
In today’s world of driving, drivers are trying to multitask behind the wheel with negative results. According to the Boston Focus Group Study of Bad Drivers:
- 77% of drivers admit to talking or texting while driving
- 60% admit to eating while driving
- 50% admit to making obscene or rude gestures or comments to other drivers, particularly those who cut in front of them
- 50% admit to almost falling asleep while behind the wheel
- Countless teens are getting behind the wheel of their vehicle drunk, high or buzzed.
Making a commitment to eliminate those types of activities from your daily driving habits isn’t hard to do. Let’s look at a few more:
- Ditch the cell phone because using a cell phone or texting while driving can be as dangerous or deadly as drunk driving. One way of doing this is to keep your cell phone far enough away that you will not be tempted to use it. Keep it turned off and let all messages go to voicemail. You can also purchase a cell phone blocker to block calls and/or texts while the vehicle is in motion. Only use a cell phone when driving for emergencies.
- Drive within the posted speed limit. When you speed you are increasing your chances of getting into a crash, injuring or killing yourself or others. Don’t be a follower and speed just because you think everyone else does. Be a leader and show others you obey the law.
- Fast food is often a teens lifeline but not while you are driving. If you need a snack, go into the restaurant or park and eat and then continue your journey.
- Always look when entering a lane of traffic or passing another car. Get into the habit of using your turn signals and side-view mirrors and don’t forget those inexpensive “blind-spot mirrors” can make the difference of getting into a crash or not.
- When someone cuts you off, take a deep breath, count to ten and let it go. Road rage accomplishes nothing except putting you in danger of a crash while you try to catch up to the other driver.
- Wear your seatbelt. Not because it’s the law, but because it will save your life.
- Study for your school tests at home, not while driving to school. Reading while driving is the second most common distraction while driving after the cell phone.
- Always remember drinking and drugged driving don’t mix. One beer even some over-the-counter medications can negatively impact your driving skills.
- If you plan on partying with alcohol, make sure you use a designated driver. Also remember that the drinking age is 21 in all 50 states.
- Finally, take a defensive driving course every couple of years. It’s always good to have a little refresher course and find out what changes have been made in the traffic laws and road conditions.
Make a commitment to become a smarter and safer driver. It is easy to incorporate into your daily living and will help you survive on the road. DRIVE SAFE!
Managing Speed: Tips for Teen Drivers
March 9, 2012
A 2009 analysis of speeding-related crashes by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that following the speed limit is not enough to prevent a crash when conditions warrant a reduction in speed. The study showed that in speeding-related crashes that caused one or more injuries, 26% of the crashes were contributed to be exceeding the posted speed limit, while 74% were due to driving too fast for conditions. In property-damage-only crashes where speed was a contributing factor, 18% of the crashes were due to exceeding the posted speed limit and 82% of the crashes were contributed to by driving too fast for conditions.
Drivers should reduce their speed:
- immediately when it begins to rain and when driving through standing water. Roads become very slippery just after the rain begins, because the rainwater mixes with oil on the road that has been dropped from passing vehicles. Driving too fast on wet roads can result in skidding, when the vehicle loses traction with the road and the driver loses control of the vehicle. Never drive through standing water if you do not know how deep it is.
- in foggy or smoky conditions. Fog and smoke make it difficult to see ahead, and reducing speed reduces stopping distance.
- before a curve. Too often, drivers realize that they are moving too fast when they are already in the curve, but lowering speed in a curve results in a loss of traction that could cause a skid. Always reduce speed before entering the curve.
- in construction zones. Lower speed limits are usually posted in construction zones, but the new speed limit may not be low enough, especially for new drivers. The distraction of all the activity in the work zone and changes in the road surface can cause more difficulties for drivers who are inexperienced.
- around school zones and playgrounds. Children are often present when the lowered speed limits are not in effect. Children are unpredictable and may walk, skate or bike into the road without checking for traffic. Be extra careful around school zones!
- at night. Visibility is reduced at night; street lights and the vehicle’s headlights cannot entirely make up for this.
Parking Lot Safety
February 7, 2012
Finding a convenient and safe parking spot is as much a part of operating a vehicle as driving itself. Depending on the kind of parking situation, it can be as safe as being the only vehicle in that spot, or it might even prove to be more dangerous than the road itself.
Not all parking lots are created equal, even the parking spots don’t come in one flavor, hence the need for some parking lot safety tips.
Some parking spots may be a spot on the side of the road, or somewhere above a multi-tiered structure. Some spots may be straight-in, diagonal and some may not even have guiding arrows to help you. Paying attention plays a huge part in making sure you pick a perfect place to park.
Here are some of the necessary precautions when finding the perfect parking spot:
- Are the doors locked? Are the windows rolled up? Even if you’re leaving for a couple of minutes, you should always do this.
- As much as possible, don’t leave valuables in the car. Make it a habit: if you have the detachable type of GPS or radio, always bring it with you. GPS devices may make life easier, but if stolen, it gives thieves a treasure map to your house.
- Check your phone/plug in your earphones/do errands when you’re inside where you need to be. Your full attention is required in getting out of your car to getting to the destination.
- Is there parking security? If there’s an available spot within the view of security, park there. Not all parking lots are secure.
- Be wary of strangers loitering about the parking lot. The car may be parked, but they may be after you. Notify security if there’s anything out of the ordinary.
When your errands are complete, there are other precautions to be taken:
- Have your keys ready. Fumbling about and digging inside your purse or pocket for the keys in front of your car leaves you vulnerable.
- Always remember where you parked your vehicle.
- Scan the area around your vehicle. Be aware if someone may be following you.
- Check in and around your vehicle. Someone may be hiding behind your car, in front or in the back seat.
- Once safely in your vehicle, lock up and leave.
When backing out of a space, be aware of people or vehicles moving in front or behind your vehicle. Be aware that visibility may be limited when there are bigger vehicles parked next to you. Never put yourself at risk. A parking lot is just a place where you park, not to hang out in.
Additional Tips for Vehicle Theft Prevention from Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Making a Safe U-Turn
January 30, 2012
Intersection crashes cause the most number of fatalities more than any other crash location. Not only are they spots where red light runners might cause dangers, but also consider the fact that drivers making an innocent U-turn usually become involved if there ever was a crash.
What is truly important is: before making a U-Turn, make sure that you are aware of your state’s laws. Some states allow U-Turns at any intersection, unless there is a traffic sign that states: “No U-Turn Allowed”. There are other states that only allow for U-Turns when there is a “U-Turn Permitted” traffic sign. Almost all states do not allow U-Turns over double yellow lines painted on the road.
You may only make a U-Turn when the traffic light facing you is either a green arrow permitting a U-Turn, or a solid green light. Many people incorrectly assume that they can make a U-Turn while the light is red, even if their vehicle was a considerable distance from the center of the intersection. This is a violation, because doing so is still running a red light.
Here are some rules to making a safe U-Turn:
- Plan your U-Turn by looking for pedestrians or individuals riding bicycles. This means checking if you might hit someone or something when turning into the opposite direction.
- Always look in both directions before beginning your turn. If the light facing you has turned green, wait a second or two for possible red light runners coming from the opposite direction. This is the one tip that might save you the hassle of a crash.
- It’s a good idea to take your foot off the accelerator and moving it closer to the brake, should you need to stop, or when an emergency situation arises.
- If you have started your turn and the light changes, complete your turn as soon as traffic clears. Never try to back up in an effort to avoid blocking the intersection.
- It is important to note that you should always be making your U-Turn while you are at the left portion of the lane closest to the center line of the road. You are not allowed to make a U-Turn near the crest of a hill, a curve, or any other place where other drivers cannot see you from at least 500 feet away from the same direction.
U-Turns are the best way to get back to a location you missed, and making sure you know the right safety precautions while taking them assures you that you get there faster, and safer.