Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Learn how to drive online!

Have you wonder how to drive a car? How can I learn? What to do?
Tips on learning how to drive.
Seeing other people on the road driving seems easy enough, and yet it feels quite daunting to you. Don't feel that way; we all just need a little practice, some more than others.
Well driving seems complicated at first, but after a few drives, you start to think otherwise, and then comes the moment of truth for the Road Test where you have to drive safely.
First step is to go to your local DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles), every state has one, and I’m talking about the United States, although later on, it focuses on the driving. There you will have to get a form, and Driver's handbook, which familiarize you with the law (different states may have different laws) and the proper driving etiquettes, which you need to follow so you pass the Road Test later on.
The written test consist of multiple choice, so it shouldn't be too hard if you look at the manual, you don't have to have all of them correct, and you get a second try because they have different versions.
Well congratulations once you pass the written test, and issued a Learner Permit. Now it's time to learn how to drive.
Many of you may have friends or relatives that have cars and are willing to give you a go on their car; if you don't then you have to find a driving school.
Driving Schools aren't cheap, and they run by the lessons.
Before you commit, look at the fees that you will be charged, look around before you choose. Be careful of scams. Look for a place that has been around long; ask somebody if they have any advice. So look if the place is old, search the internet, and look at the yellow book, if the listing is old enough you know it’s legit. Don't be impressed of the vast room and new stuff; you’re not driving in the room.
The plans they have. They could have a bundle pack of 5 lessons, 10 lessons, 14 lessons, and additional lessons if need be. These are the questions you should be asking. For those who have access to a car, 5 lessons should be plenty enough. Those who don't should go with the 10+ lessons. You should also be prepared if you don't pass the first road test (I hope you pass the first time around), that you may need to book additional lessons. You may ask what kind of cars they have, although the mechanics is pretty much similar, different car have different ways to do it. How long this instructor has has been teaching. Also there may be other hidden fees they haven't told you yet, like borrowing the car for the road test or booking road test fees, although they maybe bundle, just think about them. There may also be a classroom lesson fee, not bundle in, teaching some basics of driving, what to look out for, safety things. The amount of time for each lesson is important question you need to ask. Some instructor may drive to you, and you may ask when the countdown clock starts. A good way is if you haven't driven before is to plan one lesson by itself, then go home sleep on it, and relax, and then start bundling up the lesson back to back, so that you get the most out of your lessons, without the missed minutes in the beginning and the end of the lessons. Also if possible to book lessons close to the Road Test day so that you are fresh, if even more possible book it on the day of the Road Test. Also ask where the road test at, if it’s hard or not. This can hinder some people, especially if you don't have enough lessons to prepare you enough for the lots of obstacles in the Road Test, although you will be tested on the basics. Road Test condition can be weather (although this is out of your control), pedestrians (too many people can be dangerous), cars (that can cause unsmoothness), lights/stop signs, speed limit, all play in how well you pass the Road Test.

Now that the paperwork is out of the way, time to learn to drive.

Once you get into the driver's seat, check Doors, Seats, Belts, Mirror, Gears, and Gauges.
Door - Make sure you close the door, all doors close.
Seats - You’re sitting in a comfortable position.
Seat Belts - The people in the front including you have your seat belts on, VERY IMPORTANT, this can be an automatic failure, so make sure you put it on first thing.
Mirror - Adjust your left and right mirrors, also rear view mirror so you see through the back window, also adjust it so that you can just move your eyes to see it, and not your head. Usually the right mirror is adjusted so you see the side of your car and the floor to aid in your parallel parking.
Gears - It should be in Park before you start anything.
Gauges - All the gauges should be working. Speed is the one you should worry about.

Make sure you’re in a comfortable sitting position with right feet on brake and gas pedal. This usually means two to three fingers measure from the thigh to the neck of the steering wheel. There is also a pad to place your left foot, doesn't matter as long as you’re comfortable.

Starting the Car, just put the key in, and turn clockwise, holding it in place until the usually RPM hits 1, or you hear the engine start. Letting go meaning not turning the key, letting go of the key, the car should be on. Make sure the steering wheel is straight, align with the wheel. Good Job so far. Now for moving the car. For gears, there is Park/Reverse/Drive (signified by "P" for Park, "R" for Reverse, "D" for drive or the first D you come to if there are other Ds), three things you should concern yourself with. Park means the car sits idly. Reverse means the car goes backwards, Drive means forward.
So put your right foot on the brake, and press the button on the stick, and move from Park to Drive. Lifting your right foot means the car will go into drive and begin moving forward. It will go very slowly forward. Don't have to put your foot on gas or brake and it will move like 1 mph. Putting your foot on the gas pedal causes you to go faster forward, so lightly touch it, otherwise you will go faster than you are ready for. Press brake and the car will stop, and place the stick into Park, remember to press the button (You have to press brake to move the stick at any time). Move the stick from Park to Reverse, let go of the brake and you will move backwards slowly. Always look in the direction your moving, so for reverse look out the back window, not through the rear view mirror. Only press gas if you’re not moving or fast enough. Put into Park, and you’re done with the basic lesson of driving.
Obviously you have to have two hands on the wheel, although once you have your driver license you may get away with it. The two hands should be in 2 o'clock and 10 o'clock or 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock, whatever makes you most comfortable in. Put it into drive and go straight, make sure there is enough open space for you to drive in so that you don't hit anything. Play with the brake and the gas pedal and also not touching them so you get a feel of how fast you go and how you brake. Try to be as smooth as possible, meaning lightly touch each pedal. Holding (neither pressing more or letting go) the gas pedal means you will go at that speed on a straight road.

Enough of the straight road slightly turns your steering wheel so that you get a feel of how much you turn. Different cars require different degrees of turning. Once you are done turning and want to go straight you loosen your grasp of the steering wheel and the steering wheel will return into the straight position, some may need some help returning.

Signal with the left stick behind the wheel, you should be able to signal with your left hand easily. Moving the stick up turns on the right signal, and down a left signal. If it’s raining use the right stick behind the steering wheel, just push it up. Again the functions may be different places in different cars, but all cars have them.

-Pulling Out
Signal Left (Usually)
Look in the left mirror; only leave when there is no car coming behind you.
Look at blind spot. Turn your head to the left and look out the window and the rear window, which is not cover by the left mirror. Once clear, look in the direction your going, no car again, then you’re ready to pull out.
Pull out by turning your steering wheel a quarter meaning your 12 o'clock goes to 9 o'clock. Lightly press gas for some speed. Don't have to go out very fast, but you must go out at an appropriate speed of like 7-8-9 mph. Once your car is clear of everything and in the lane start turning your steering wheel right a half turn FAST, so you don't run into another lane, then you slowly turn the steering wheel straight when the wheels are adjusted into the lane. Turn off your signal lights if on. Look in your rear view mirror as required so nothing happen behind you. Don't for get to gas away now.

-Pull Over
Signal right, get your foot on the brake and slowly into 5-6-7 mph turn the steering wheel right to a quarter and turn it back straight or left more to position your car. This you really need to practice more on. Turn off your Signal lights if on.

-Right Turn
Signal right
When the car front lines up with the sidewalk you start turning your steering wheel right, sometimes one full turn. Before turning look at right mirror, and right blind spot. The speed should be very slow around 7-8-9 mph. So that means holding onto the brake, lightly touching it, not complete braking, and letting go when you clear your right turn. Let your grasp of the steering wheel go so that it adjusts back into straight position and press gas away into the speed limit. The turn signal should turn off when you clear the turn.

-Left Turn
Signal left
When the car front lines up with the middle of the intersection you start turning your steering wheel left, sometimes one full turn. Before turning look straight ahead for any oncoming car, and in the direction you’re turning to. Don't cross into the oncoming car lane unless safe to do so. So usually this requires complete brake before moving forward. Lightly touch the gas and you should slowly accelerate to 7-8-9 mph for the left turn. Let your grasp go when you clear the left turn, so that it adjust back into the straight position and press gas away into the speed limit. The turn signal should turn off when you clear the turn.

-Parallel Park
Signal right when you see a good spot to park, slow the car down to a complete stop in front of the position you want your car to be in. Usually you want your right mirror to light up with the front car mid section (middle of the car) or a little behind it, so that you have room to clear it without hitting the car. Put the car in Reverse, Look everywhere so there isn't anything that you can hit, especially behind you. Turn the steering wheel 2 full turn to the right, lift your foot of the brake (don't touch gas unless you’re not moving at all, let it go slowly, have your foot hover over the brake getting ready to stop). Now this part is tricky as there are many methods to do it, as different car you look for different things. Here a list of them, your instructor should tell you which one is for you. When to press brake depends on either... looking out the right mirror when the corner of your trunk touches the top of the curb OR ... looking out the right mirror when the right side door handle meets with the curb OR ... when you are 45 degrees to the front car trunk. Different car different technique. So press brake and turn left one full turn and looking back slowly with feet hovering over brake wait for the car to align with the car in front, so the car should be straight. Press brake and turn the steering wheel straight. Put the stick in Park. This really takes practice and knowing what to look for.
Pulling out of Park, you may have to reverse until you see the wheels of the car in the front. The right signal light should have gone off by now by itself.

-3 point turn (Broken U-turn)
Signal Right
Look in both the front and back of the entire street to make sure no car is in sight. Turn the wheel all the way to full lock, (different car, and different amount of turning). Gas if no speed, only little, shouldn't be faster than 5 mph. Then the car should go all the way to the other sidewalk, and stop when the front part car is about to hit the curb. Then turn left all the way full lock, and this time put the car in reverse, and make sure no oncoming car, so look. Then look behind you as you reverse. Reverse until your left mirror is line up in the middle of the road then brake and turn right full lock and put into drive and straighten and alight the wheel when you clear. Look in rear view mirror. Gas away.

Speed - Be sure to check the speed limit of the area. Make sure that when you’re going straight always be close to the speed limit. When you’re messing with the steering wheel you can go slowly. By messing I mean doing turns.

Be careful of hitting the curb, it maybe consider a critical mistake.
Don't go too SLOW or too FAST, too SLOW you fail for being too cautious, too fast you fail for breaking the law, go with just under the speed limit.

Road Test sites are not all equal. There is a certain amount of mistakes you make before you can fail the road test; also there are critical mistakes that cause of failing on the spot. Relax!

When you see a stop sign, make sure you do a complete stop before you reach the stop sign, and slowly inch out and stop again looking left, right, and straight before you move forward. Make sure no cars are either direction. ALL-WAY Stop sign means first come to the stop sign goes first. Try not to hit the curb, when turning or making too wide a turn when turning, so that you don't cross into another lane. These lead to deduction in points. Always give right of way. At an intersection, the driver on your right side has right of way to go first, if you both arrive at the same time at the stop sign. As best be aware of other road signs.

Always check out Google Maps or Live Maps to look at the Road Test site so you know what to expect. Check for weather conditions on the day of the Road Test.
"Kissena Park Road Test is a fairly straight forward quiet test site" -Frosh
In the google street view you can even see the cars lining up to take the road test.

I tried to give you enough pointers to look out for, but the most important thing is practice, the more you practice driving the better you are at becoming a safe driver. Nothing can be exchange for driving.

Not everything is the same for every car, adjust using what you know. This is just to get you started. If I miss anything let me know. You should read this once again after you drive so that you may notice something that you miss during the drive.

This game gives you the really basic mechanics of how the car turns, and in no way help emulates real world driving.
On YouTube you can see California DMV videos, they also help you out on what to look for during driving.

Stay tune for updates to this article!

Don't let your driver license expire; otherwise you have to start from step one all over again. Moving to a different state usually require you to just take the written test so that you are familiar with the law there.
Have a safe drive. See you on the road!


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