Friday, August 25, 2006

Teaching Evan to drive (updated)

In my state, if you are 17 you can take a written test, get a learner's permit, be taught how to drive by any adult over a certain age (I don't know if it is 21 or 25, but I am definitely over the limit), and then take the driver's test.

If you are under 17 you MUST take a driver education class from a certified instructor. In fact when you go get your learner's permit they ask you to which instructor you wish your permit to be mailed. After the youth has spent the required number of hours with the certified instructor, he or she turns over the permit to the parent. The parent must keep a log book and certify that the youth has 50 hours supervised driving time before they are allowed to take the driving test.

If you are a foster kid though, none of this really applies. You cannot drive until you are 18. You are a ward of the state and minors can only drive if their legal guardian gives them permission (which means they are agreeing to be legally liable for the driver). When your legal guardian is the state, you are out of luck. (There are rumors of kids who have got permission, but I've never met one of them).

David thought he had permission to take driver's ed before his 18th birthday, but that turned out to be a big fat lie.

Anyway, Evan is 18 and ready to learn to drive. He did the written and I am teaching him. He is fairly relaxed in the car, and I feel pretty comfortable. I was thinking that I had this down. He's doing well and I seem to be a pretty good instructor. I was feeling pretty good about all this.

Then I went to the DMV web page and found out what I SHOULD be teaching him. They have a 50 page manual for parents who are supervising driving practice.

Did you know that hand-over-hand steering is no longer standard? Drivers should use push-pull steering except when parking, and then hand-over-hand is appropriate.

Do you remember under what circumstances you are supposed to look in the mirrors and check your blind spot? (This is important, when you take your driving test if you forget to look in your blind spot before making a right turn, you will loose a point.)

In order to know when the car is three feet from the white stripe on the right hand side of the road, where should the line appear to be hitting the hood? How much closer should you be (and therefore where should the line appear to be hitting the car) when you are going to make a turn? How about the center stripe?

If you imagine that the steering wheel is a clock, at what "times" should your hands be? (NOTE: if your car has air bags 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock is the wrong answer.)

How often should you check your mirrors and blind spot when driving on the freeway?

How many seconds should there be between you and the car in front of you? (Hint: it is not 2). I'm tense. I can drive, but apparently I forgot half the rules and they went and changed the rest of them.

Edited to add the answers (per FosterAbba's Request):

You should look in the mirrors and blind spots before doing anything that requires you to use the brake (even right turns) and before turning on a signal when passing.

When driving anywhere, not just on the freeway, you should engage in a constant scan pattern: 20-30 seconds ahead to identify target, 12-15 seconds ahead to plan your path, 4 seconds ahead to respond. Check mirrors. It is unclear from the parent's manual if you are supposed to be checking the mirror with every cycle or just "regularly". You should not, however, wait until you are thinking about changing lanes. Most common problem: drivers stay focused on one of the three ranges.

You are three feet away from the white line on the right if it appears to line up in the middle of the right half of the hood. You are three feet from the line or curb on the left if the line appears to line up about one foot in from the left edge of the hood. I forget how far off that you should be for turning. But there are similar reference points for judging how close you are to the curb when parking (parallel, or perpendicular, forward and back). If you want them you can search for them I'm sure.

If you have an air bag your hands should be at 9 & 3 or 5 & 7.

You should maintain a 3 second distance between you and the car in front of you.

When you stop you should be able to see the tires of the car in front of you.


  1. You gonna post those answers, or are you going to leave us guessing?

  2. I may never drive again.

    I park hand over hand but I've never given much thought to how I do things. I just do them.


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