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What Should I Expect From My Driving School? Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of our series. Don’t forget to check out Part 1 and Part 2!

We’ve covered a bit about the instructor and the school and today we’re going to take a look at what you should expect from the training vehicle.

check-engine-light.jpgFirst and foremost the vehicle should be in excellent mechanical condition. If your driving instructor shows up at your house in a rattling hunk of junk that backfires and grinds to a stop in your driveway, close the blinds and pretend your not home!

NOT a good driver training vehicle!Also important is the cosmetic condition of the vehicle. Dents, dings, and shoddy paint jobs are a sure sign of a bad driving school. Consider this, do you really want to learn to drive from a driving school that sends a training vehicle with the front fender smashed and hanging on by a complex series of coat hangers?

student-driver.jpgAnd finally, the driver training vehicle should be marked with student driver signs. I know that some people may disagree with me on this because their embarrassed to be seen in a car that says “Student Driver” on it but, this is really a basic safety issue. Student drivers make mistakes and when other drivers know their out on the street the tend to give them a little more space and courtesy.

That’s all for today! Check back tomorrow as we continue our series and remember to drive happy, drive safe!

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Quick Tip: How to Make a Safe Lane Change

Does any remember SMOG lane changes?
No? Alright, lets review this funny little acronym.

  1. Signal
  2. Mirror
  3. Over the shoulder
  4. Go!

Cute isn’t it?

This has been the way drivers have been taught to lane change for years and years, its even got a somewhat auto related name. Now I’m going to tell you why its antiquated and not the safest way to change lanes. This is the way that I teach drivers to change lanes.

  1. Mirror
  2. Over the shoulder
  3. Signal
  4. Gas & Go!

It doesn’t seem much different does it?

The key element here is that we’re teaching the student to check before they signal. There is no point in using your signal until you know what is behind and beside you. The second step, “Over the shoulder” is pretty standard so lets move onto 3 and 4.

These 2 steps should happen almost simultaneously with the signal coming on and the driver accelerating into the chosen lane in one smooth motion. Notice that we’ve added “Gas” to the final step. Remember that are not moving at an angle instead of a straight line so you’ll need to push the gas a little bit to maintain your speed. This is what we like to call an assertive lane changes and it works wonderfully in all types of traffic conditions.
bad-lane-change.jpgPlease note: It’s assertive not aggressive, this about driving with confidence, not cutting people off. 🙂
Give it a try, lets us know how it goes, and remember to drive happy, drive safe!

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What Should I Expect From My Driving School? Part 2

Today we continue our series: “What Should I Expect From My Driving Instructor” with Part 2. In Part 1 we discussed instructors and today we’ll talk about the school itself.

  • Your driving school should allow you make payments for each and never sell you more lessons than you need.

There is a strong tendency in the industry to sell “packages” of lessons and many schools push hard to get you to pay for everything up front.

Does it make sense to pay for 6 hours lessons all at once when you’ll be receiving them in 2 or 1 1/2 hour increments over the course of several weeks or months?

Driving schools that operate on this up-front payment systems are constantly scrambling for “new money”. They will promise you the world, until your check clears and then promptly bump you out of the way when “newer money” comes in. Most people will continue to attend a school they don’t like, simply because they’ve already handed over the money and they don’t want to fight over a refund.

Its important that your driving school only sells you the lessons you need. Now, if your under 18 the law requires you to take 6 hours lessons but, for adults there are no minimum hour requirements.

Every student is a bit different, many adults are ready for the Drive Test after 4 hours of lessons, some of them only need 2 hours, and still others need 8-12 hours. This is a decision that you and the instructor should come to together. Do not let someone promise you over the phone that you can be ready for the test in 4 hours, or that you need to take 18 hours of lessons, it varies from student to student.

A special note about those “advanced driver training” course that some schools advertised. Every major study of these courses has proved conclusively that these things simply do not work. Its a bit like trying to pour 5 gallons of water into a paper cup.New drivers simply do not have the capacity for these skills. Don’t let anyone convince you that 50 hours of lessons is going to make you safer than 6.

Check back tomorrow for Part 3 of our series and remember to drive happy, drive safe!

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Quick Tip: How Old Do I have to Be to Get a Permit?

DMV LOGOYou must be at least 15 1/2 years old to get a California permit. Keep in mind that this a rule written in stone. If you go to the DMV when you are 15 years, 5 months, and 27 days old they will not allow to take the California Permit Test.

Please note: This not the only requirement for a California Permit. For a full list, check the DMV website here.

If your not 15 1/2 yet, and your eager to get Behind-the-Wheel, talk to your driving school and see if they have a Student License Program.

A Student License will allow to drive with a licensed driving instructor at the age of 15.

Please note: A driving school may not charge you more than $2 for a Student License.

You must have a valid California permit to drive on any public roadway or parking lot, even if your parents/guardians are in the car with you.

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What Should I Expect From My Driving School? Part 1

This is the first in a series of articles about what customers should expect from a good driving school.

First and foremost you should expect to receive the amount of lesson time that you purchased. Driving lessons are expensive and if your paying for a 2 hour lesson, you should get 2 hours instruction.

Secondly, your driving instructor should be on time. In the event that they are running behind schedule they should contact you to explain the delay and make up any missed instruction time.

And finally, your instructor should arrive with a smile. Learning to drive is fun, and good instructors know that.

These are certainly not the only things you should expect from your driving school. Stay tuned this week as we continue out series and remember to drive happy, drive safe!

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Left Turn! No, Your Other Left! : Practicing With a New Driver

New drivers are great fun aren’t they?

Oh, their not?

Your terrified to get in the car with them? I, see…

We love new drivers here at Drive Happy Driving School, however we are also professionally trained and have years of experience. Sometimes its easy to forget that most people don’t get in the car with new drivers everyday.

This article is dedicated to those parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, and spouses who find themselves in the car practicing with a new driver. Let’s start with the basics shall we?

Rule # 1: Make sure your insurance covers your new driver.

Every insurance company handles new drivers a little bit differently. Some will require you add the new driver on to your policy immediately. Some will allow them to drive under your coverage until they are licensed. And some will simply not allow new drivers. Check with your broker and make the necessary adjustments before you begin practicing.

Rule # 2 : Remain calm, even when your not.

Its important to remember that your new driver is even more scared than you are. Having you sitting next to them sweating bullets and gripping the door handle is not doing them any favors. Put your hands on your knees and sit comfortably. Do not, under any circumstances tell them how scared you are. If you appear calm and collected, they will too.

Rule # 3 : Start with the easy stuff.

The first time you get in the car with your new driver is not a good time to have them back out of the driveway and head out to the freeway during rush hour. Start with the easy stuff. Drive around the block in a nice quiet residential area until your both feeling comfortable with one another.

Rule # 4 : Make progress by driving somewhere useful.

Alright, you’ve driven around the block 97 times. Its time to move on. The best practice any new driver can do is to drive somewhere useful. Have them drive you to the grocery store, the post office, their school, their job. All the places they’ll be driving to on a regular basis. Think of your new driver as YOUR new driver, your personal chauffeur.

Rule # 5 : Make your instructions clear and give them early.

Lets keep in mind that “What the hell are you doing?!?” is not a direction. If you want your new driver to turn left at the next corner, tell them that, before they pass the corner. The more complicated your direction, the longer in advance you need to give it. It also helps to be specific. Unless you really want them to come to screeching halt in the middle of the street “STOP!” is not a direction. Try this one instead. “Take your foot off the gas and begin braking. We’re going to stop with the tip of the car touching the limit line.” Clear instructions , given early.

Rule # 6 : Drive happy!

New drivers make mistakes. It is inevitable. There’s no reason to beat them up about it, or let them beat themselves up. Explain what they did wrong and what they should do next time and move on. Feel free to laugh if they do something really funny. Its OK to have fun during your practice sessions. Remember that good driving is the art of not crashing. If you’re not upside down in a ditch, your new driver is not doing too bad.