A Checklist to Master Driving Skills

A Checklist to Master Driving Skills | 911 Driving SchoolTaking an online drivers education course is great for learning how to drive. The information that is critical for driving is taught at a pace that fits each student individually.

As a parent of a teen driver, one of the best things you can do is take your student out driving to make sure they are getting in the practice required to feel comfortable behind the wheel. To help aid in those efforts, here are some skills that you can work on with your student so that they will be ready for their driving test.

They are split into three individual lists- beginning, intermediate, and advanced.

Beginning Driving Skills

This list is intended to help new drivers who are just driving for the first time or are not prepared enough to drive on the road in traffic yet. Here are some of the suggested beginning skills:

  • Pre-vehicle inspection: this includes doing a walk-around of the vehicle, making sure areas are clear from debris, hazards, and small children.
  • Reading dashboard gauges: noticing gas levels, how to read the speedometer, and knowing if there are any warning lights are on.
  • Review of all buttons and levers: Know where everything is located, such as turn signals, windshield wipers, headlights, hazard lights, etc.
  • Properly adjusting and using mirrors
  • Accurate, smooth maneuvering of the vehicle
  • Smooth turns done at an appropriate speed
  • Backing Up
  • Proper driver posture and positioning: hand position, foot position, etc
  • Controlled, smooth stopping
  • Parking in a marked stall
  • Turning off the car

Intermediate Driving Skills

Once the beginning skills are mastered and the driver is comfortable with the basics of a vehicle, it is time to move that experience on to the road. Note the level of traffic and don’t attempt driving while there are too many cars out. Ensure that visibility is good too with clear weather and good lighting. It is also important to make sure there is a good level of mastery for driving laws and knowing what signs mean. Here are the intermediate driving skills to work on:

  • Yield to right of way to vehicles and pedestrians
  • Keep a safe, 2-second minimum following distance between cars
  • Anticipate hazards and actions of other drivers
  • Communicates with other drivers
  • Acknowledges and can state the meaning of road signs
  • Obey speed limits
  • Use turn signals appropriately
  • Park vehicle on a curb
  • Park vehicle at an incline
  • Park at an angle
  • Enter and exit roundabouts correctly
  • Enter and exit intersections correctly, following traffic signals if applicable
  • Uses passing techniques properly and controlled
  • Keeps attention on the road

Advanced Skills

Once the beginning and intermediate skills are mastered, it is time to move on to the advanced skills. Each section should build on the other and the new driver should have a good level of comfort executing the prior skills. Here are the skills to work on with your advanced student driver:

  • Driving calmly and correctly in rush hour traffic
  • Adjusts driving during bad weather and bad or low lighting
  • Driving on expressways with proper entering and exiting
  • Cautious driving around semi-trucks
  • Uses caution around motorcycles and bicycles
  • Able to handle complex driving situations
  • Handles multiple driving hazards
  • Uses proper defensive driving techniques
  • Looks ahead and plans for escape routes
  • A solid knowledge of emergency procedures

Time for the Driving Test

Once a new driver has mastered the above lists, they are ready for a driving test. Identify skills that can use more practice, but also make sure you are encouraging and acknowledge areas of improvement. Whether you are helping a student with teen driver’s education or you are taking adult drivers education, doing an evaluation with this driving skills checklist can improve the chances of passing the driving test for licensing.

Routine Car Maintenance You Should Know When Owning a Car

Routine Car Maintenance You Should Know When Owning a Car | 911 Driving School

Owning a car is a big responsibility. Not only does this vehicle mean freedom, but it also means taking care of it so that it runs well. Whether you need to know when to get it done by a professional or just want to handle the smaller things yourself, the more you know, the better.

Here are some basic parts of car maintenance that every car owner should know.

1. Changing the oil

Oil is an essential part of any vehicle. It lubricates the engine parts to prevent damage. If there is no oil, parts grind together and ruin the engine.

Dirty motor oil can also damage the engine because it causes build up on the parts, creating friction from parts rubbing together. Make sure that you check your owner’s manual for what kind of oil is best for the engine before you put any oil in your vehicle.

2. Checking tire pressure

The wheels are the only thing keeping your car moving. Keeping them functioning well is vital to preventing many different forms of damage.

The most basic form of tire maintenance is checking the pressure in them. The recommended PSI for tires is located on the driver’s door jamb, owner’s manual, and often on the tires themselves. Check the pressure about every month and do it before driving more than a mile to get an accurate reading.

Another good tip is to check the pressure in your spare tire while you’re in tire-checking-mode.

3. Jumpstarting a car

Batteries die sometimes and require a jumpstart. Rather than calling roadside assistance every time it happens, carry jumper cables in your car and know how to use them.

Find someone with a vehicle who is willing to loan you their battery. Put both vehicles in neutral and turn off the ignition. Attach one of the red clips to your battery’s positive terminal and the other red clip to the other vehicle’s positive terminal. Then, attach one of the black clips to the other car’s negative terminal, with the other black clip attached to an unpainted metal surface. Turn the ignition on your vehicle and it should start.

Remember not to turn your car off until you reach your destination.

4. Check fluids

Checking the motor oil level is good, but there are other fluids that need your attention too. Transmission fluid is another vital fluid that requires regular checking. It also has a dipstick that you check under the hood. Make sure the levels are steady and not leaking.

Other fluids to inspect are the coolant, brake fluid, and washer fluid. Each has a cover under the hood that needs to be removed and inspected. For the coolant, it is best to check levels in the transparent refill container, never through the radiator cap.

5. Keeping the battery clean

Knowing how to change a battery is one thing that most drivers should know how to do, but not everyone does. When doing all your other under-the-hood inspections, just make sure the battery is free from corrosion.

If you notice build up, mix baking soda with a little water and use a wire brush to apply a little solution and scrub. This will keep your battery functioning better and ready to shock if you need to jump it.

6. Examine belts and hoses

Most cars and SUVs use belts in the engine to keep it going. The timing belt is especially important. Check all belts for tears, rips, cracking, glazing, and any chunks missing.

If you see any of these problems, it needs to be replaced. Hoses also need to be checked since they prevent over-heating. Look closely to make sure there are no cracks, leaks, or bulges. If you find any, get them replaced.

7. Changing the windshield wipers

Windshield wiper blades are so important but rarely do drivers notice they need to be replaced until they are in the middle of a storm and can’t see clearly.

Check your windshield wiping blades a few times a year to make sure they wipe completely without leaving streaks and that they aren’t screeching when in use. If you notice either of these problems, replace them.

 

Once you have mastered these must-know car maintenance items, work to learn more. Understanding the basics about how a car functions can help you better take care of your vehicle. Not every car owner wants to do these jobs themselves, but it is important you know the basics.

Many driver’s education courses teach you the basic information, but getting out and trying it is the best teacher.

Emergency Preparedness Kits for Your Car: What You Should Have in Yours

Emergency Preparedness Kits for Your Car | 911 Driving SchoolPeople depend on their cars to be reliable, but sometimes emergencies happen. It is a good idea for drivers to prepare for the worst by keeping an emergency preparedness kit in their car. If you have never made one before and need a little help in thinking of items to stow away, here are some great items to go in your kit.

A First Aid Kit

Having a first aid kit in your car comes in handier than you think. There are plenty of pre-packaged first aid kits on the market, but if you want to make your own, it isn’t too hard. Some items to include are band-aids, antibiotic ointment, hand sanitizer, gauze pads, an ace bandage, pain medication, bug spray, burn cream, tweezers, sunscreen, and antiseptic.

Having these items is helpful if you come upon an injury or just scrape your knee at the park. Since there are so many small items in a kit, make sure you store them in a container and leave it in your vehicle.

Breakdown Supplies

If your car breaks down, it is important you have the tools to fix it. Even if you don’t know what to do, having some basic items on hand will be helpful if someone comes along to help that does know what to do. Some items you should keep in your car are a spare tire, a tire iron, flashlight, jumper cables, and road flares.

Extra Clothing

There are several reasons to keep clothing in your car. There is the practical side of knowing you have extra clothes for work, school, or social events if you spill something on your clothes, but there is a better reason.

If your car breaks down or you get stuck in bad weather for a long time, you can layer up clothing to stay warm. You never know where you will get stuck or what you will be wearing. Keeping a spare jacket, coat, or rain poncho in the trunk is great if you aren’t sure when you will be stranded.

Food and Water

Keep at least a few water bottles in your trunk, along with snacks. If you ever get delayed, stuck in traffic, or stranded somewhere without food to purchase, you will be grateful to have something to eat.

Some items to consider are granola bars, fruit leather, jerky, gum, and hard candy (to suck on for a long time). Since food is perishable, make sure you are rotating these items so that you don’t have to eat food that has gone bad.

Other emergencies

Other items to consider keeping in your car for miscellaneous needs and emergencies are: a fire extinguisher for flames, a blanket to keep warm or wrap around a serious injury, a roll of duct tape for random needs, and baby wipes to clean up spills.

Keeping a little extra cash in your kit is a good idea too, just in case you forget your wallet or have an unexpected need come up without a credit card.

Extra Items that Fit Your Situation

No one is going to know your situation better than you do. If you are a family with small children, you might want to pack an extra pack of diapers and wipes, spare formula, and extra pacifiers.

If you have small kids, consider adding toys or coloring books. If you are a single young adult, you don’t need those things in your car, so find items that work for you, like a spare phone charger.

 

Another important thing is to cater to your environment. Are you in the middle of winter in the Midwest? You might want to pack a lot of extra blankets. If you live in southern Texas, you might want to pack a lot of extra water bottles and a hat.

Consider your own situation and location and find what works for you. Having an emergency kit in your car will not only make you more prepared but also give you more peace of mind.

How to Prepare Your Car for Winter

How to Prepare Your Car for Winter | 911 Driving SchoolChecking your car regularly is important to keep it functioning correctly. As the weather gets warmer and colder, it acts as a reminder for you to do some work on your car. Since both hot and cold affect your car differently, here are the three things you should do for the winter weather.

Get a check-up

Taking a trip to the mechanic is a great first step. A professional inspection will go over the basics. The first step is checking your oil. When the weather cools down, the oil will thicken and make it harder to lubricate your engine properly.

The other important fluid to check for cold weather is the antifreeze. If the mixture isn’t right, the water might freeze in your radiator, causing some serious damage.

Next, your belts and hoses will be checked. Since winter is hard on these parts, it is important to make sure they are in good enough condition to last the winter.

Lastly, it is important to verify that your tires are ready for winter with enough air pressure and tread. Both play an important part of having good traction on wet and icy roads.

Test basic functions

Two things that anyone can do, regardless of car expertise, are to check your wiper blades and four-wheel drive. Finding out that either one of these doesn’t work while in a storm can create a dangerous situation.

Make sure your blades completely clear your windshield. If they don’t, change them out for new ones that can do the job.

Checking your four-wheel drive is also important to do before you are in a storm. Remind yourself and the other drivers in your home how to turn it on and off. Make sure it engages and disengages smoothly. If there are any problems, get it fixed before you need it in a storm.

Prepare for the worst

No matter how much you check and get maintenance done, there is still a possibility that you will end up in an emergency. Stocking your car with some essentials can really help you out if it happens. To start, always make sure you have the tools necessary to change a flat tire, including a spare. Carry other essentials such as a flashlight and external charger for your phone, in case you need them.

Other things that are good to have in your trunk are water bottles, snacks, a blanket, ice scraper, and windshield washer fluid. During the winter, you can also add chains for your tires, just in case you need them for traction.

 

Depending on where you live, you might not need to complete every step on this list. However, if you live in an area where it does get freezing, it’s important to prepare every year. Keep a list of the work you do so you can refer to it the next year. If you don’t live in an area where it gets cold, do this work before you head to a colder climate for the holidays.