Category Archives: Driving Tips

Top Driving Challenges and How to Navigate Them

Top Driving Challenges

Driving is a responsibility that comes with learning skills before licensing. No matter how much an adult or teen driving school tries to prepare student drivers, there are still some situations that are challenging. Situations such as driving in bad weather, through heavy traffic, around large trucks, and even dealing with aggressive drivers can seem overwhelming and intense in the moment. Here are some basic reminders to help you sharpen your skills when it comes to these common driving challenges.

Bad Weather

Depending on where you live, there are different versions of “bad weather”. For some it is snowy blizzards, others deal with black ice, heavy rains, fog, and dust storms. No matter where you live and what weather you deal with, driving in bad weather has some common advice.

  • Reduce your speed. If you have limited visibility, it is important to slow down. If there is no visibility at all, pull off to the side of the road in a safe location. In cases like blizzards, it is important to stay on the main road so help can find you. In a situation like a dust storm, it will pass, and you can wait it out. 
  • Limit distractions. The worst time to be distracted is in a tense driving situation. Turn the radio down, ask passengers to be quiet, always keep both hands on the wheel, and focus on the road.
  • Keep an emergency kit in the car. Always keep water, snacks, a blanket, and an extra charger in your car. If you are stranded or must pull over, it is good to have supplies. Also keep some extra tools and a spare tire in your car.

Navigating Around Large Trucks

Large trucks have a bigger blind spot than any other sized car. Even with their extended mirrors, drivers struggle to cars that are driving alongside, behind, and in front of them. Be mindful of these limitations and respect their need for you to stay out of the way whenever possible. Also, be kind and let them merge into your lane if they are signaling to move over. Trying to race past or getting right in front of a truck is never a good idea and can end badly for you.

Heavy Traffic

Driving in heavy traffic is never pleasant. Driving in heavy traffic when you need to get over to an exit, there is construction, or you are in a hurry can make it worse. There are some basics to remember when navigating through heavy traffic.

  • Use your blinker. It is very important that the other drivers on the road know what you are trying to do. If you need to move over, turn on your blinker and slowly move over when you can. 
  • Don’t wait. If you know that you need to exit soon, start making your way over while you have a little more time. Having a ½ mile stretch to merge over 4 lanes just isn’t convenient for anyone.
  • Obey construction signs. No matter how impatient you become, you must always follow construction signs. Failing to follow these signs will come with higher priced tickets from police officers. Stay out of closed off areas, begin to merge when you see the signs, and reduce your speed.
  • Slow Down. Everyone is delayed when traffic is heavy. While it is frustrating, it is important to slow down and remember that circumstances are beyond your control.

Aggressive Drivers

Everyone makes mistakes while driving. Try to keep a level head and not get too angry over someone making a mistake. Instead of slamming on the gas and racing around them, control your temper. They most likely did not do it on purpose and getting angry and hostile on the road is dangerous.

If you have made a mistake and another driver is acting aggressively toward you, do your best to ignore them. Do not engage in reckless behavior and put yourselves and everyone around you in danger. If they are being persistent and you are feeling threatened, call the police. Too often these situations will escalate, and it is important that you stay safe.

Focus on the Road

When all else fails, focus on the road and remember the basic skills you learned in your drivers education courses. There are many situations you cannot plan for or perfectly remember what you are supposed to do. In those cases, the best thing you can do is be calm and trust your training and instincts.

Driving and Recognizing Hand Signals

Driving hand signals

Many drivers will find themselves in a situation where they themselves or someone they are sharing the road with will need to use hand signals.  Brake lights and turn signals help keep everyone aware and safe on the road, but sometimes they go out on a vehicle. Bicyclists and motorcyclists also share the road and more commonly use hand signals. Knowing how to use and recognize these signals will help keep everyone on the road in better communication and prevent collisions and accidents.

There are three basic hand signals that mimic the three basic light uses on a vehicle; turning left, turning right, and stopping. These signals are always done with the left hand whether it is a driver, bicyclist, or motorcycle driver.


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Turning Left

When turning left, the proper hand signal is to stick the arm straight out of the vehicle. Some people will do two fingers to signal the turn so others on the road do not consider this as a nonchalant action. The hand signal is taught as the hand placed vertically, to make sure the intent is clear.

Turning Right

When wanting to turn right, the left arm is extended out the window and held at a 90-degree angle. This is especially handy for drivers because they are unable to stick a hand or arm out of the right or passenger side of the vehicle. The hand is flat and fingers straight up.

Stopping

When stopping, it is important to let anyone behind you on the road know to avoid them running into you. For drivers, the arm is extended down at an angle with the palm facing backward with a bend in the elbow to get over the car window frame. For bicyclists and motorcyclists, the arm is usually straight and extended outward with the palm facing backward.

To stay safe, do not rely on the stopping signal alone. It is important to also glance over the shoulder or a rear-view mirror to be sure the signal is noticed. While this is the universal sign for stopping, drivers are usually looking for brake lights on a car to indicate the action and may not notice the driver signaling.

For bicyclists and motorcyclists, the signals are more noticeable, but it is more dangerous to be hit. Make sure the signal is always very clear and then watch your surroundings. If the person behind you does not notice your signal or that you are stopping, there may be time and opportunities to move out of the way before being hit.

Remember the Signs

Learning the signs once for a driving test is not good enough for drivers and cyclists to be safe. Most drivers do not anticipate needing to use the signals, but it is important to know them if your lights go out. If you take up biking or buy a motorcycle, it is important to know the signs for sharing the road with vehicles. If not, you should still remember the hand signals so you can watch for them. These are taught in teen driving courses and should be remembered and observed just like turn signals.

The Best Tips for Driving in Bad Weather

911 Driving School - The Rules of Driving in Bad Weather

Around the United States, winter weather is setting in. For many states, that means conditions like rain, fog, snow, and ice. No matter how long you have been driving, brushing up on what to do in certain types of weather is a great way to stay safe.

Driving in the Rain

  • Turn on your headlights. Not only will this help you see better in the darker weather, but it will help other drivers spot you more easily.
  • Stay in the middle of the road. On a multi-lane road, avoid staying in the far-right lane. This is where water tends to pool, covering the road’s edge and hazards that are there.
  • Avoid puddles. Again, water pooling can cover dangerous parts of the road, such as potholes and debris. Hydroplaning is also a risk when driving in pooled water, causing you to lose control of your vehicle.

Navigating through Fog

Use low beam headlights

While headlights won’t help you see much in the fog, only low beams will improve visibility. Using regular or high beam headlights will cause the light to reflect off the water in the air and make it harder to see. This is taught in online driver’s ed classes, but driving in fog isn’t a common driving condition for most new drivers, requiring an extra reminder.

Don’t pass

Staying in your lane is trickier in the fog, but more important because you cannot see cars coming in the other direction.

Focus on the white line

The white line on the right-hand side of the road is an excellent guide during the fog. It is easier to see and can help ensure you stay on the road.

Signal longer

Another hazard of decreased visibility comes when a car is turning, and other drivers cannot see well enough. To help decrease the risks, leave your turn signal on longer to give ample notice of your intentions.

Snow and Ice Driving

Turn slowly

When approaching a turn, whether it is a curve in the road or turning at an intersection, do not accelerate. Brake slightly as you turn so that you don’t spin out of control.

Accelerate slowly

Icy, slippery roads make tires spin faster. If you are pressing the gas too fast, it can cause the tires to spin very fast, digging themselves into the snow and ice.

Watch for black ice

A thin layer of translucent ice, or black ice, is hard to spot. When you hit black ice, your car is more likely to spin-off. Watch carefully for slippery looking spots on the road.

General Guidelines

All bad weather requires some common adjustments. To stay safe, consider using these general tips for any time you find yourself driving in bad weather.

Slow down

Seeing clearly in any of these bad weather scenarios is dangerous. Slow down and use extreme caution.

Leave extra following room

Not leaving enough space in front of your car can cause a car crash. From less visibility to bad weather, you never know when you will need to stop quickly. Leaving room in front of you gives extra space and warning before hitting the brakes.

Plan accordingly

Leave with plenty of time to reach your destination so you won’t stress about hurrying to get there on time. Also, let others know you will be on the road and which route you are taking in case you end up needing help.

Remember the Basics

If possible, it is best to stay off the roads during moments of bad weather. If you do have to drive, try hard to remember the material covered in your driving lessons. Even if you don’t remember every detail, relax and trust your instincts to kick in. Focusing on the basics of driving will help keep you safe.

Ways to Overcome Adult Driving Anxiety

911 Driving School - Ways to Overcome Adult Driving AnxietyDriving anxiety is feeling hesitant to drive or when anxiety is always present when driving. This anxiety can be a fear or a full-blown phobia, but it is usually irrational. Avoiding driving can be difficult if you live in an area where there isn’t good public transportation. The good news is that driving anxiety is common and can be conquered. Here are some tips for helping yourself overcome adult driving anxiety.

1. Keep Driving

For many who experience anxiety while driving, it only gets worse the longer you avoid it. That is true for all fears, phobias, and anxieties. The best thing to do is start slow and go easy on yourself. Be patient and stick to close locations. Avoid the highway and drive in the daytime so you can ease into driving when feeling anxious. If you are experiencing driving anxiety because of an accident, the sooner you start driving afterward, the better you fare in the long run with keeping anxiety under control.

2. Bring Someone You Trust

A great way to combat the fear of driving is to have someone ride in the passenger seat who you trust. It can be a friend, family member, or a driving instructor. Having someone there to listen or help talk you through the anxiety can relieve a lot of the stress involved. Even if they just make some small talk, it can help get your mind off your fears and just focus on the driving.

3. Take a Driver’s Course

If you have never gotten your driver’s license and would like to as an adult, enroll in a course of driving lessons for adults. If you already have your license and are feeling a lot of anxiety, it can be helpful to re-enroll in a driver’s course to help refresh your skills and increase your confidence. These classes also give you an opportunity to practice with an instructor, which can bring some peace of mind.

4. Make the Car Peaceful

External factors like sounds and smells can contribute to increased stress while driving, especially if you are already feeling stressed. To help soothe yourself and create a peaceful environment, play soothing music while you drive and keep an air freshener in your car. Lavender is a common smell that relaxes, but you can pick any smell that helps you feel peaceful. Also, try to keep your car clean and organized for a clearer mind.

5. Manage Your Stress

One of the common underlying issues of driving with anxiety is feeling stress in other areas of your life. Try decreasing the other stressors in your life and incorporate general ways of dealing with stress by exercising, taking breaks, meditating, or whatever you find most helpful. During driving, it can be helpful to say positive affirmations out loud. Hearing these positive statements, such as “I can do this” and “I am a good driver” help boost confidence and fortify this state of mind.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Since there is no way to tell when anxiety will hit you, it is a great idea to keep multiple tactics up your sleeve to help deal with driving anxiety. That way, when it does start to set in, you are prepared and know that you can calm your thoughts. Keep driving and keep trying. Eventually you will learn how to cope and conquer the fear of driving.

10 Common Bad Habits Drivers Have and How to Correct Them

10 Common Bad Habits Drivers Have and How to Correct Them | 911 Driving School

Drivers of all ages and experience levels make mistakes while they drive. It never hurts to have a little reminder about ways you can improve your skills, especially when it comes to driving a car. Since a vehicle can cause so much damage, it is important to drive carefully. Some of the most common bad habits drivers develop are easy to correct, making the roads safer for everyone. Here are ten examples.

1. Not using a turn signal

The purpose of the turn signal is to let drivers and pedestrians around you know what your intentions are switching lanes, at an intersection, or in a parking lot. When drivers neglect to use their signal, they risk causing a collision or dangerous situation for a pedestrian. The best way to correct this problem is to get in the habit of using your signals.

2. Right of Way Errors

When approaching an intersection, it is very important to know which vehicle has the right of way. Unfortunately, not enough drivers remember the rules. Even if you know that you have the right of way though, it is important to still watch the other drivers. If another driver thinks they have the right of way and proceeds into the intersection, it is better to yield and stay alive than to crash and risk injury.

3. Observing signs

There are many signs along the road that help alert drivers to dangers, keep everyone informed on speed limits, upcoming turns, road conditions, and more. Paying attention and following the road signs, it can help keep you and the other drivers around you safe.

4. Turning errors

If a driver starts turning at the wrong spot or misses their turn, too many times they sit and wait to get back into traffic or block the driving lane to wait for an opening in the turn lane for them to fit in. If you realize you are in a turning lane and realize you shouldn’t be, just turn. It is better to get turned around than risk pulling back into traffic and holding up the line behind you. If you realize you missed the chance to get in the correct turning lane, turn at the next opportunity instead and come back. Do not block traffic. It is not just rude; it can cause a crash with multiple cars.

5. Parallel parking

One of the most dreaded driving test skills, the art of parallel parking evades many drivers. To correct this problem, practice is required. Pull up alongside the car that will be in front of your parked car, lining up your rear bumpers and leaving two feet between your cars. Turn your wheel and reverse into the parking space until your front passenger door lines up with the other car’s bumper. Quickly turn your wheel the other way and glide your car into the spot. Straighten out before exiting the car.

6. Illegal maneuvers

Many drivers don’t notice the maneuvers they do are illegal and put others in danger. Make sure that you stop at all stop signs and red lights, only make U-turns in authorized areas, and park in marked areas only.

7. Driving under the influence

Never operate a car under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Play it safe by reading all the directions on medications you are taking so you know if it will impair your motor skills. If you have been drinking at a party, do not over-estimate your abilities and try to drive.

8. Driving drowsy

Another danger is operating a vehicle when drowsy. Drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving because abilities and judgement is impaired. Falling asleep at the wheel is dangerous for the driver, the passengers in the vehicle, and others on the road. If you are tired, switch drivers or pull off the road to rest.

9. Not having a driver’s license with you

Everyone who drives a car is required to carry their driver’s license with them in the car. If you are a student driver, having your practice permit is also required. Many drivers do not take this seriously enough and drive a car without their license. Always keep proper documentation, like proof of insurance and car registration information, in your vehicle when driving.

10. Distracted Driving

The number one bad habit drivers have is driving distracted. Whether it is a cell phone, picking up cargo that has fallen on the ground, or talking to passengers, it is vital to pay attention to the road in front of you. Correct this problem by remembering what is most important. If you need to pick something up, make a phone call, send a text, or deal with passengers, pull to the side of the road and out of traffic.

Most new drivers are nervous and usually try to remember to do everything correctly. Once drivers become more comfortable behind the wheel, they overestimate their abilities. It is important to always stay vigilant and avoid picking up bad habits. Remember your defensive driving skills that you learned during your driving lessons. You just never know; it might save your life.

5 Things to Do Now That You Passed Your Driving Test

5 Things to do Now That You Passed Your Driving Test | 911 Driving SchoolPassing your driving test after all the hours of studying, driving, and preparing for this day is a wonderful feeling. There is a lot of work involved in getting to this point, so it’s appropriate that you celebrate. Now you might be wondering what you should do after you pass the test. Here are five things to get you started.

1. Get Proper Documentation

Receiving your license is just the first item you need to operate a moving vehicle. Most states require that drivers have car insurance. This helps cover you financially if you get into a crash. Not every state requires that you have insurance when you have a learner’s or practice permit, so make sure you have the proper coverage before driving on your own. Also, keep a copy of your policy in your glove box for if you ever need to provide proof of insurance.

2. Buy a Car

If you are fortunate enough to buy your own car, doing it for the first time can seem overwhelming. Pay attention to if it is automatic or manual, how many miles it has, and what works or doesn’t. Take it to a third-party mechanic for an inspection to make sure it is a dependable car. Consider buying a used car to help decrease the stress you will feel driving around alone for the first year or two. Once you bring it home, buy some fun accessories to personalize it.

3. Be Prepared

Now that you have your license, you should be responsible. Part of that is being prepared for many of the common problems drivers experience. Keep a spare tire and tools in the car and know how to use them if you need to change one of your tires. Consider keeping an emergency kit in the trunk with basic medical supplies, water, and a snack. Buy a car charger to keep in your middle console for if you get lost or stranded and have a low battery. If it is wintertime, keep a blanket somewhere in the car too. While you can’t possibly prepare for every scenario, being ready for some common problems will save you in a pinch.

4. Take Precautions

If you are nervous driving without an experienced driver in the passenger seat, you’re not alone. There are plenty of stickers available for purchase online that you can stick on your bumper to let other drivers know you are new. This helps others have patience with you and give you a little more space on the road.

5. Spread the Word

No matter what age you are when you get your first drivers license, be proud. Spread the good news by posting on social media. This will let your friends and family celebrate the big moment with you.

Now that you have completed your online driver’s ed classes, taken your driving lessons, practiced many hours on the road, and passed the final test, you are going to have a lot of time on your hands. Whether you take a road trip or just enjoy taking yourself where you need to go, it is nice to have more freedom. Congratulations on this big step in your life.