What you don’t learn in your driving lessons

We spend a lot of time and money learning to drive. It’s something most of us go through at some time in our lives, to make sure we have a very hefty and very useful life skill under our belts. Once we pass a test, we get behind the wheel and drive off to paradise – we can go anywhere, whenever we want, as long as we’ve got the money to fill up the tank and a map in our pocket to guide the way. Or if you’ve managed to complete your lessons in record time, and have some of the cash you saved for them left over, you might even be able to get a top of the range Sat Nav to guide your way for you.

However, there’s quite a few things you won’t learn during your time at driving school, and there’s quite a few unwritten rules of the road you should be aware of. Hopefully you’ve got an older driving relative who’s filled you in on a few things, but if you don’t, the checklist below is here to help you out. So feel free to read on if you’re a new driver who’s a little nervous about hitting the road full time, seeing as there’s a lot of etiquette out there you may not know about.

TRYING TO PARK IN A CROWDED LOT

Parking is something a lot of new and old drivers alike fear, seeing as parallel parking is one of the biggest causes of contention on the road, and one of the most common fail causes when it comes to the maneuvers section of a driving test. And that means you’ve got to get to grips with parking sooner rather than later – if there’s a lot of other drivers out there who still have no idea what they’re doing when trying to safely pull the car to a stop, you’re going to have to rely on yourself!

So when it comes to trying to navigate your way through a crowded car lot, and you’re just trying to find an easy place to park so you can hop out and get the grocery shop done, what do you do? You go round and round, looking for a spare spot, and constantly get tripped out by small cars hiding behind big cars, making the space look empty until you come closer. And that gets quite annoying.

But what’s even more annoying is when another car is either in front of you, or is approaching from the opposite direction, and there’s only one space left that you both seem to be gunning for. Who gets to go in? Well, if you’ve got your turn signal on to indicate you want the space, and the other person doesn’t, it’s all yours. But if you’re both indicating that you want to pull in, it’s the first one to reach the space – be courteous and drive on if you’re a bit slower than they are.

USING A FAST FOOD DRIVE-THRU

If you’ve just passed your test, and you’ve already got yourself a car to drive, you’re going to want to use it for late night and early morning trips to any number of fast food restaurants in your area. But sometimes, it can be hard to navigate the lanes here, and some people just never know when they need to pull up to the next window. And seeing as shopping for food is going to be a crucial part of your driving routine, we should mention it here.

First of all, make sure you’re using both ordering lanes, if the drive-thru has more than one. A lot of car drivers like to think only one of the order lanes are working, seeing as no one else in front of them has used the second lane, and this causes a bit of a long queue and a pile up. Feel free to head down the second one if it’s empty!

Secondly, make sure you’re using all of the lane in your quest to get your food, and don’t linger at one window for too long. If you’ve pulled up to the second window and paid, but there’s a car already at the window ahead of you, just pull up behind them and wait your turn. This helps to free the traffic of the drive-thru line, and save you and the other drivers behind you a lot of time on your journey.

THE TIMES WHEN YOU HAVE TO PULL OVER

Pulling over is something you’re going to have to do at one point in your driving career, seeing as you might have a burst tire or need to stop for an emergency vehicle. You can simply pop your indicator or your hazards on, and turn the wheel slightly until you’re mounting the kerb next to you. And that’s simple enough, isn’t it? But what about the other times you’re going to have to pull over, or pull out of the way?


Well, if you’ve been involved in an accident, even if your car has just been bumped, you’re going to need to pull over. At the least, your Car Accident Attorney is going to need to know you performed all of the correct moves in a situation like this. At the same time, if there’s an ambulance or a fire truck coming up behind you with its sirens on, you’re going to need to pull out of the way as well – they have the right of way whenever an emergency is ongoing, and you don’t want to be the one car holding them up in their line of duty.

And if you’re ever feeling drowsy or otherwise uncomfortable whilst you’re driving, be sure to find a safe spot to pull over and take stock of yourself. Will you be able to make it home? Will you need to find an alternative place to stay for the afternoon or evening, at least until you’re recharged again? When in doubt, it’s always a lot safer to pull over and get out of the way.

WHEN IT’S ALRIGHT TO MULTITASK

The honest answer is never, seeing as anything that could otherwise occupy your hands is a danger to you when behind the steering wheel, and there’s a lot of research to back this up. It’s not just drinking or using your phone that’s a hazard, but eating and playing music or fiddling with the stereo can have the same dangerous effects. So you’re going to want to multitask as little as possible.

Of course, you’re not always going to be able to keep yourself from doing two things at once, seeing as we don’t always have time to save eating our food until we get home, and if we’re expecting an important call we just have to use the bluetooth buttons on the wheel. But make sure you keep instances like this to a minimum, and try to delegate these kinds of tasks to any passengers you have in the car with you.

HOW ROAD COURTEOUS YOU SHOULD BE

Being courteous on the road is a matter of debate, seeing as other drivers rarely seem to pay much attention to the fellow humans around them. Of course they’re aware of the cars they’re driving on the road with, but not what they need to do or where they need to go, and most of the time we see some selfish and defensive driving when we go out. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, not when you’ve spotted one or two boy racers on the road, or maybe a motorcycle that’s weaving in and out of the traffic queues like crazy, but it can become a problem.

So make sure, unless you’re pushed for time, that you’re slowing down for other vehicles when you don’t have right of way, and you’re letting people turn in and out of junctions whenever the opportunity presents itself. If you simply know what rights you’ve got in your position on the road, you can exercise them to the max, and still let the other drivers know you’re safe enough for them to be around. And if you’re clearly indicating that you’re just passed your test, being courteous to the more experienced on the road is of utmost priority.

ARE YOU READY FOR THE ROAD?

It’s very easy to become a bad driver, and apparently it can take as little as ten weeks after passing your test for you to fall into some very bad habits when you’re on the road. So let’s make sure you’re ready to hit the road and stay on it, with some more intuitive rules and regulations to pay attention to whenever you’re behind the wheel. You don’t have to learn these, of course, but it’s going to make your experience as a driver a whole lot better.


Photo Credit: Victor Xok

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