Things you should know before you take your road test

May 28, 2000

The day I got my permit on my 16th birthday I was very eager to sign up for my road test that second. "What's so hard about driving around the block with someone in the car with you?" I said. Little did I know that almost 1/2 of my Senior friends had failed their road test the first time they took it! "Jeez, they must be a bunch of losers if they can't pass a road test." I talked with them about their experience and found out what went wrong.

1. Be overly cautious
I know you might feel like a nerd going the extra mile to be a little more careful on a road test, because I did. You have to remember that the DMV person in the car with you is VERY picky. Remember these things:

A.) Drive slow enough so that you don't seem aggressive and fast enough so that you don't seem passive. DMV raters will mark you down if you go over the speed limit, of course, but will also penalize you for driving too slow. Driving too slow is, believe it or not, a traffic violation.

B.) Stop COMPLETELY at every stop sign. Do not give any reason for the DMV person to think you did not stop all the way. What you should do is when you stop, count 2 Mississippi's. Then go. Remember to stop AT the stop sign, count 2 Mississippi's and THEN creep up to look if cars are coming if your view is blocked. They'll get you for stopping beyond a stop sign.

C.) Always remember to check your side mirror AND your blind spot before pulling away from the curb. I got 10 points off for not doing that.

2. Turning

A.) Make sure your turns are smooth and steady. Do not accelerate during the turn. They'll mark you down for making a turn too sharp (like a right angle), or for cutting the corner too much.

B.) 3-point turn. Some state road tests make you do this along with parallel parking.

a. Put your RIGHT blinker on.
b. Pull to the right side of the road.
c. Put your LEFT blinker on.
d. Turn the wheel 100% to the left, and turn as far as you can without hitting cars or the curb on the other side of the road.
e. Turn the wheel 100% to the right.
f. Put the car in reverse.
g. Pull back into the road.
h. Drive forward.

The blinker part is very important for safety. Make sure no cars are coming in either direction before you start.

3. Parallel parking

This is not a tedious task, it does, however, take a lot of practice. I'll try to explain to you how I do it:

a. Pull up next to the car ahead of the spot you want to park in. Get about 6 inches away from the car. Make sure your car is even with that parked car.
b. Put your RIGHT blinker on.
c. Make sure no cars are coming either way before you start your park.
d. Put the car in reverse, and back up directly behind you, SLOWLY, keeping the wheel straight.
e. When the middle of your car is even with the rear bumper of the parked car, turn your wheel ALL THE WAY to the right. Keep backing up.
f. Look in your passenger side mirror. When it looks like you are about to hit the curb, turn the wheel ALL THE WAY to the left. Keep backing in.
g. Try and get as close to the curb as possible. The DMV person will mark you down for being too far from the curb.

4. Relax

Everyone is nervous before they take their test. Remember to take extra caution and TAKE YOUR TIME. My road test took 4 minutes, it's stupid to try and get it over with quicker.

Don't take your road test unless you can do everything I listed above well. I took 2 driving lessons before my road test. I learned some very useful driving tips. My instructor was very helpful in telling me what I was doing wrong, especially when I parallel parked.

And remember, if you fail your road test, you can always take another one. It's not the end of the world, just practice more before you take the next one.

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