The 14 Most Common Mistakes To Avoid on the Driving Test

Ah, the driving test. The day has come, and you’re ... terrified.

We’ve been there: There’s a judgmental stranger sitting next to you, it’s the biggest moment of your life, your future hopes and dreams depend on this, etc. This is the difference between your mom taking you to school and you being the guy or girl who gets to roll out of the juniors’ parking lot blasting Ignition. This is what stands between you and freedom.

Freedom is a beautiful thing.

You’ve studied and practiced by taking your drivers ed course, so we have faith in you. To prepare you for the big day, we’ve compiled the 14 most common mistakes people make on the driving test. Brush up, and don’t let this be you!

1. Letting your nerves take the wheel.  

You know that Snicker’s commercial, “You’re not you when you’re hungry?” Same goes for stress and nerves. You’ve practiced. You know the material by heart. You’ve put in the driving hours.

So breathe. You’ve got this.

2. Not checking your mirrors regularly.  

It can be hard to take your eyes away from the road, but your side and rear-view mirrors are there to help you be a safer driver.

Big oops. Not checking your mirrors is not okay.

3. Forgetting your turn signals.  

Signals are a basic of driving, and therefore a huge part of your exam.

4. Making rolling stops.  

Always come to a complete stop behind the demarcation line at stop signs and red lights. Also remember to come to a complete stop when you’re making a right-hand turn at an intersection.

Stop means stop.

5. Not yielding to pedestrians.  

Peds always have the right of way. Pay attention to crosswalks and anticipate pedestrians, especially when you’re turning.

6. Confusion at four-way stops.  

It can be easy to jump forward or hesitate when it’s your turn. Remember: The driver who arrives at the intersection first has the right of way. If you get there at the same time as another driver, whoever is to the right goes first.

Don't get confused.

7. Changing lanes in an intersection.  

This is a huge no, and highly dangerous. 

8. Improper lane changing.  

When your instructor asks you to change lanes, remember:

  1. Look first
  2. Turn your signal on
  3. Check your mirrors (rear and sides)
  4. Check your blind spot
  5. Change lanes if all clear

Be an expert on changing lanes.

9. Driving too slowly.  

Sometimes, you can be so busy worrying about speeding that you end up going too slow. But driving slowly can be just as much of a safety hazard as speeding. If cars are passing you, it’s time to speed up.

10. Braking too hard.  

Hard braking should only ever be used in emergency situations. Otherwise, your braking should be gradual and comfortable. Be aware of how much time you need to come to a stop, and brake accordingly.

11. Following too closely.  

Leave at least 2-3 cars’ worth of space behind the car in front of you.

12. Not being aware of changes to the speed limit.  

Make sure you always know the speed wherever you are. Pay extra attention to the following zones, where speed limits can change drastically:

  1. School zones
  2. Residential streets
  3. Freeways
  4. Construction zones

Shrugging and saying you didn't know what the speed limit was won't cut it on the road test.

13. Not keeping both hands on the wheel.  

It doesn’t matter if you can drive with just the tip of your knee; always keep both hands on the wheel during your driving inspection test.

14. Bringing a faulty vehicle to the road test.  

Don’t let your vehicle be the reason you fail. Make sure your car complies with all safety laws, including a clear, unbroken windshield, working seat belts and lights.

*This article was updated on 6/1/2021

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