The basicsEdit

  • Steering wheel hand placement: The key to controlling your car is being comfortable with the steering wheel. For a new driver, if you can make your car go where you want it to go, everything else is gravy. Test examiners want your hands high on the steering about the 10 and 2 O'Clock positions. You can probably get by with 9 and 3, or 11 and 1 O'Clock. When turning the wheel, keep your palms down on the wheel. Relax your arms, and keep your elbows low...don't stiffen your arms when you turn...most of your power and flexibility should come from your wrists, not your shoulders.
  • Don't hook your hand inside the wheel with your palm up to turn. If the airbag deploys, or if you hit a pothole, you could break your wrist.
  • Don't shuffle the wheel through your hands. Although this is the approved method of steering in the UK, it is slow, awkward and makes for a slow and jerky turn.
  • Don't let the wheel spin back on it's own after making your turn. If you get bumped by another car from behind, or if you hit a curb/pothole, you won't have any control over your car.
  • Don't stick your thumbs into the wheel as you make your turn. Rest them on the wheel beside your index fingers. If you stick them through the wheel, the wheel will grab them as you turn, making for a jerky and inaccurate turn. No need for a death grip on the wheel.
  • More experienced drivers often drive with their hands low on the wheel, and this is a comfortable method, when you're not expecting to turn. Learning to drive one-handed by 'palming' the wheel is a good thing to know, especially while backing, but not during a driving test.

Turning cornersEdit

  • Most cars will make a ninety-degree turn on a two lane road when the steering wheel is turned 360 degrees. On a wide road or a four lane road, a ninety-degree turn can be performed with a 180 degree turn of the steering wheel, or a half turn.
  • For hand-over-hand turning, you should think; "Push, Grab, Pull". With your hands at 10 and 2 O'Clock, push the wheel in the direction you want the car to go. As the hand doing the pushing goes up, release your passive hand (the hand going downward), reach your passive hand across the hand still pushing the wheel, and grab the wheel with your passive hand to begin pulling the wheel. As your passive hand begins pulling the wheel, let go with the formerly active hand, which will now be going downward.
  • After completing the turn, recover the wheel using the same method..."Push, Grab, Pull".
  • Most accidents happen in intersections, so never stop in the middle of a turn for no particular reason. Otherwise, you're just inviting an accident...usually when the car turning behind you slams into the rear of your vehicle. You should usually slow down going into a turn, and begin accelerating halfway through the turn as you recover to straighten the wheel.
  • When making a turn from a priority road where you're not required to stop, you should turn the corner at speeds from between 10 to 15 MPH.

Foot placement on pedalsEdit

  • For drivers of cars with an automatic transmission, we're not going to discuss clutch work here. Send your left foot away on vacation. Your right foot will be doing all the work. The default position for you foot will be over the brake pedal (the wide pedal to your left). Never rest your foot on the gas pedal. The gas pedal should only be used for acceleration.
  • Become well familiar with the functions of the two pedals before you start driving, so you don't get them confused. Sounds basic, but you'd be surprised at the number of new drivers who hit the gas when they're attempting to stop.

Other basicsEdit

  • Learn where your instruments and controls are before you start moving. Don't wait until you're driving down the road at 50 MPH to try and find the headlight switch.
  • Never look at anything for too long. When driving, your eyes should always be scanning ahead and side to side in quick movements. You should also check the mirrors and your instruments (your speedometer, not your radio dial) at regular intervals. Don't stare at anything, or you'll end up making a mistake.
  • Don't forget the transmission. Always be aware of which gear you're in.
  • Learn to sound the horn with the palm of your hand. Don't poke the horn with your fingertips or hit it with your fist. If you're using the horn to warn of a possible pending collision, the next thing to happen may be airbag deployment. The airbag deploys with the speed and force of a karate kick. You don't want to break your fingers or have your fist smashed back into your face.
  • Don't try to start the car when the motor is already running. It's very bad for your car. Check your tachometer, if your car has one (The dial with single-digit numbers, usually located next to your speedometer).
  • If your motor is not running, your tachometer will read "0",or if you see all of those pretty red and yellow lights, such as "Brake", "ABS", "Seatbelt", "Oil" etc. lit up on your dash, but your radio is on, your engine is not running. If your engine is running and all those lights are lit, then you have serious problems and should shut your car off immediately.
  • Learn to conserve resources. This will save your money on gas.

Turn signals or indicatorsEdit

  • Don't make extra work out of using your turn signals. Your turn signal switch was placed on the steering column for a reason. It was placed there so that you can engage your signal while your hand is still on the steering wheel. When preparing to use your signal, hook your thumb into your steering wheel, reach out with your fingers and flip the signal.
  • As you recover from your turn, the signal will automatically switch itself off. You will usually have to switch the signal off manually after a lane change, although newer cars have a 'lane change' setting for your turn signals. The 'lane change' setting allows you to press the signal lightly before and during the lane change, and release the switch to turn the indicator off.