The Top 10 Most Common Mistakes to Avoid on a Drivers Test

Written by Deborah Lockhart 

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You finished your driver’s ed course and have practiced driving behind the wheel for months. When you are driving with friends and family, you are the ultimate professional. Now there is only one thing standing between you and that glorious, coming-of-age memento also known as the driver’s license: the driving test. However, just thinking about being judged for your driving skills makes you nervous. What if your nerves get the best of you? Could you possibly fail and need a do-over?

We cannot let that happen. That is why we are going to tell you the 10 most common mistakes to avoid on a driver’s test. As long as you know these are the “moves” to “steer clear of,” you will be holding that sliver of gold in no time!

10. Reverse Park Control

While some states have removed parallel parking from their driving tests, others have not. Double check with your state’s policies to see if this maneuver will be tested during your behind-the-wheel test. If it is, do not worry that much. The driving instructor will not ask you to park your car in a really tight spot. However, they may cast a mark against you for complete misjudgment or if you demonstrate a complete loss of control while attempting this less-than-fun parking skill.

9. Positioning

Make sure you are aware of the lane markings around the school or DMV where you will be taking your drivers test. A common mistake for new drivers is taking up more than one lane while driving. Make sure you stay in your lane at all times. Except, of course, during the times the instructor asks you to change lanes or make a turn.

8. Response to Traffic Lights and Signs

Believe it or not, some people actually respond too slowly to green traffic lights. When the light turns green take a moment to make sure it is safe to drive, but do not wait there uncomfortably. Same goes with stopping at a stop sign. Make a complete stop, check for safety, then mildly step on the accelerator. Make sure you know when it is your turn to go during a 4-way stop. Remember if you and another car come to an intersection at the same time, the car to the right has the right of way and gets to go first.

7. Right turns

Make sure you position your car correctly for right turns. Your car should not cut the corner and should be positioned behind the white line. Look for cyclists, motorcycles, and pedestrians and yield to their right of way. Even if they are waving you to go first, it is always best to let them go before you.

6. Steering

Maintain normal, steady steering at all times. Instructors are looking for a smooth ride throughout your test. Do not drive one handed. Keep both hands on the wheel at all times and make hand-over-hand turns. Make sure you are driving along the contour of driveways, curbs, entrances and exits. You will lose points for lack of steering control. Hitting the curb would fall under this category as well.

5. Check Mirrors

Check both rear-view and side mirrors when making a lane change or turn. It is always good to check them while at a stop sign or signal as well. Major points are deducted when you do not follow this rule.

4. Observation

Similar to the action of checking your mirrors, looking both ways before you cross an intersection is a must. Make sure it is absolutely safe before you proceed.

3. Driving too slow or fast

Make sure you are driving the speed limit. Driving too slowly does not mean you are driving more safely. It will count against you just as much as driving too fast will. It is wise to check the speed limit signs around the neighborhood that you will be taking your driving test in.

2. Improper Lane Changing

One of the most common mistakes students make during their driving test is forgetting to use their turn signals. When your driving instructor instructs you to change lanes, that is your cue to turn on your turn signal. Then check your mirrors – all of them. Then make the lane change.

1. Rolling Stops

The number one common mistake (in most states) students make during their driving test: not making complete stops at stop signs. Perhaps you learned this unacceptable boo-boo from a parent or relative. Many drivers love to come to a rolling stop at stop signs, and even receive a good amount of traffic tickets for doing so. Many students will slow down, but you need to make a complete full stop. Make sure your car is behind the demarcation line as well.