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How to know when your student is ready to take the driving test?

This is a serious judgement call. Taking the test and passing the test, means they will be able to drive by themselves! Ultrasafe's opinion is first of all they need to be able to pass any practice written test with a 100%. 80% means 1 out of 5 questions they don't know the answer. Which basically means 1 out 5 driving laws they may not know. The driving manual lists what is on the driving test ("DMV Skills Test") on page 1-12 and 1-13. In addition vehicle control is also on the test. A student who comes to hard stops and drifts within the lane will be marked down. Parallel parking is not on the DMV Skills Test and freeway driving is usually not included.

We recommend going on at least 2 practice driving tests. The first test should be 1 week before their 6 months of supervised driving period is up. Tell them if they fail they must take another simulated driving test in 2 weeks. You can make a spreadsheet check-off sheet to help or simply make mental notes. Don't judge a student's driving using your own driving habits. Included in the simulated driving tests should be driving to their most frequent destinations, i.e. friend's houses, school, favorite restaurants (driven from school).

If a student does everything you do - just slower - this is fine. Most drivers become more aggressive and impatient with experience - this is an unfortunate reality and should not be how your student drives at such a young age. Driving more cautiously is something that should be encourage. Perhaps this is a good time to re-examine your own driving habits? Modeling good driving is one the best things you can ever do for your child. If they fail the second drive, then do a 3rd drive in another 2 weeks.

And lastly there is no law requiring the DMV Skills Tests when they have completed the 6 months supervised driving. Extending it 1, 2, or 6 months is perfectly fine. Also students who are turning 17 before the 6 months is up, should drive supervised for 6 months anyways. Turning 17 does not magically make them ready to drive on their own.

Here are some tips when supervising...

  • Don't be overly critical of little things. Keep the big picture in mind. A shaky turn is something that will probably work itself out with more driving. Don't tell students what they did wrong, instead ask if they know how they could have done it better.

  • Give clear, early directions. "At the light turn left". "We are taking Exit 2". Ultrasafe students are trained to ask the follow-up questions "How far is it?" and "Which side of the road is the destination?".

  • Leave early in case you get lost. Leaving early is one of the biggest strategies for safe driving.

  • Practice driving in different environments keeping the driving to 30 minutes or less. This might require you driving to an area, then letting your student drive in that environment, and then you driving back.

  • BE PATIENT. Keep your voice down. If your stressed your student will also be stressed. No matter how stressed you get - don't show it.

  • Stay off your phone at least the first 10 hours of supervised driving. You need to be scanning the road also for any potential issues and communicating what you see - don't assume your student sees what you see.

  • Ask "Are you covering the brake?". You will not have a passenger brake. Getting the brake and gas mixed up is common among new drivers even with driver training.

Ultrasafe covers all of this information and more, in the Parent Observation Drive. If you took driver training from another school we will gladly go on a 45 minute PO Drive. The drive will also simulate the actual DMV Skills Test. The PO Drive is $50 and starts at Lowes by Edwards 21 Theatre off Overland and Cole Rd.

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