Driving lessons are mandatory for anyone looking for a valid driver’s license in the USA. The driving curriculum time expectation is based on classroom, practical, and behind-the-wheel hours. Whether it’s the first lesson or a refresher for the driver’s knowledge test, here are five things to remember.
1. The Cockpit Drill
Driving instructors often deliver the cockpit drill, an exercise all drivers should carry out when getting in a vehicle. The cockpit drill is also known as the DSSSM (door, seat and steering, seatbelt, and mirrors) routine. This drill involves checking if the doors are closed and secured before starting the engine. The driver must also adjust their seat to ensure controls are within easy reach and that they have a clear view of the roadway. Other checks in a typical cockpit drill include:
- Establishing a comfortable seating and steering position
- Wearing the seatbelt before starting the engine
- Adjusting the side and rearview mirrors to minimize blind spots
2. Moving Off
The big moment for all first-time drivers is moving off as it represents taking control of the car. Moving off follows a three-step routine: prepare, observe, and move. The preparation phase involves getting the car ready to pull away to a clear road.
Driving instructors train new drivers on how to press/hold the clutch and select the first gear. The preparation also involves pressing the gas pedal, finding the biting point, and releasing the handbrake.
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For the observation phase, the goal is to demonstrate awareness of the surrounding area. Learners must check all around the vehicle for anything that could affect the driving plan. The driver should look over both shoulders, firmly hold the steering wheel, and gauge the right time to move. In the move phase, the driver confidently moves the car when it’s safe to go. Completing this move means they release the handbrake and then slowly release the clutch while gently pressing the gas pedal.
3. Changing Gear
Every driver should know how to change gears, even though automatic cars don’t feature manual gear changing. Most driving lessons involve changing gear during acceleration and when slowing down. Learning how to change gears properly can prevent damage to the gearbox. Driving at the right gear also saves fuel and optimizes combustion. Learners should master how to shift gears back and forth, depending on the situation.
The instructor will observe how the learner changes gear during the behind-the-wheel evaluation. Most drivers’ knowledge written tests also feature questions about shifting gears. Failing to master this vital technique may be enough reason for license rejection. Learners should remember the right time to change gear, clutch pressing and releasing, acceleration and deceleration, and other gear-changing steps.
4. Signaling With Indicators
Car indicators and signals inform other road users about the driver’s intentions. All drivers are expected to use signaling when turning, slowing down, overtaking, or facing a problem. The instructor will cover the basics of signaling and how to use the indicators efficiently. An example is using the turn signal approximately 100 feet before reaching an intersection. The examiner will observe two main signaling aspects during the driving test:
- Proper Signaling: The driver gives clear signals in good time to warn road users of intentions according to the Highway Code.
- Signal Canceling: The learning driver cancels the signal right after they complete the maneuver.
5. Curb-Side Parking
Parking lot accidents are prevalent, so examiners will teach drivers how to park safely beside a curb. During driving lessons, the instructor lays out the fundamentals of curbside parking, including the necessary observations. The final examiner will evaluate the same steps, so learners should remember how to park and move out of parking. Most courses also teach stopping the car and covering the brake and clutch.
Finding the Best Driving Lessons
Learning how to drive is effortless when using the best driving lessons from reputable schools. First-time drivers can practice and apply what’s taught in the classroom to prepare for the driver’s knowledge test. Working with leading driving schools is the best way to ensure memorable lessons and become a better driver. The goal is to learn for life, not just the test.