The team of auto mechanics at Searles sees a lot of cars come in with N’s on their bumpers, so we figured it was time to write a post geared towards new drivers.
The reason a lot of new drivers keep their N for longer than they are required to is sometimes financial, sometimes not having the time, but in a lot of cases it’s due to nerves about having to take another road test. The key is to relax enough so you don’t end up making these top seven mistakes that are commonly made on driver’s licensing tests across British Columbia.
- Not Being Prepared
Feeling prepared for any sort of test is usually the first key to success. ICBC lists common things you can do to prepare for your road test appointment, including what to bring. To complete a road test you need to bring with you: an acceptable form of ID, the fee for your road test, valid insurance and registration documents, and a safe vehicle.
So, what does ICBC mean by “safe vehicle”? There are many things the road test personnel will be looking for before your road test begins, and it is your job to make sure your vehicle is in road-ready condition by checking to see that:
- The windshield and windows are clean and aren’t cracked or illegally tinted.
- There are no random dash warning lights indicating any problems.
- Seatbelts are in good working order and not frayed.
- Brake lights, signal lights, and headlights are working and not badly cracked.
- Vehicle is properly insured.
- There are no unsafe or illegal vehicle modifications that have been done.
- The horn is working.
- Tires are in good shape, properly inflated, and the right type for the season.
- Your car is clean inside and nothing is blocking your views or otherwise rolling around and distracting you.
In addition, make sure you have enough gas in the tank! If you’re in doubt about any of the points above, book an appointment with an auto mechanic who can inspect your vehicle first and make any necessary repairs for you before your test.
- Rolling Stops
It should come as no surprise that one of the most common mistakes people make on their BC road test is not coming to a complete stop at stop signs. Over time, drivers tend to develop the habit of not stopping completely at a stop sign, and just scanning the intersection and rolling through. The same is true for making right-hand turns at traffic lights. In both cases, you must come to a full stop, behind the line.
You should be able to feel it in your body that the vehicle has completely stopped for a second. However, you also need to avoid braking too hard, because hard braking is only acceptable in emergency situations. In all other situations, use the minimal amount of brakes to get the job done. This is where being familiar with the vehicle you are completing your test in will be of great benefit.
- Bad Lane Changes
Lane changes make many new drivers anxious. It takes practice out there, as well as following the checklist: look in your rear-view mirror, signal your intention to change lanes, check each of your mirrors again, shoulder check for blind spots, and maintain your speed as you change lanes.
So, where do people go wrong on this one? Road markings! You can only change lanes if the road markings allow you to do so. Don’t cross a solid white line or a solid double yellow lines. Review the rules in your manual.
Another area where people go wrong during lane changes is changing while passing through an intersection. Whether you are going straight or making a turn, stay in your marked lane so as not to wildly confuse other drivers.
- Distracted Driving
It’s common-sense to not have your cell phone in sight during your road test, but we needed to put this on our list anyway. Make sure the volume of your phone is off and that your stereo is also turned off. You want to be relaxed, but not too relaxed. Keep both hands on the wheel at all times and when turning, use the “hand over hand” method. Did we mention you should try and stay calm?
Another thing you can do to show you are not distracted and therefore are highly focussed at the task at hand is to should check your mirrors often. In fact, check them more often than you normally would while driving. Check rear-view and side mirrors so that you always know where other vehicles are in relation to you. The constant checks show your focus and help you react faster to dangers and make smoother land changes and turns. Don’t be afraid to over exaggerate the checking of your mirrors.
- Flustered at Four-Way Stops
Four-way stops are always an issue for drivers, no matter how many years of experience they have behind the wheel. The rule is, when you come to an intersection with four stop signs, be confident you know what to do if there are other cars waiting.
Also, make eye contact with the other drivers if you can, or watch their wheels for clues. Just because you know when it’s YOUR turn, doesn’t mean the other people at the intersection know and follow the same rules. Some people will go for it, so even if it’s your turn, only go when it’s clear. The rule is that if two cars arrive at an intersection at the same time, the car to the right goes first. Be mindful of pedestrians and always signal!
- Driving Too Slow or Fast
During your BC road test, it is important to appear confident. This means driving considerably below the speed limit is a no go. It can cause unsafe conditions and enrage other people around you. Likewise, there are times when it is better if you drive under the speed limit.
For example, if there is rain, fog, an accident, traffic congestion, a SCHOOL ZONE, or a construction zone, slow down and give people plenty of room. When maintaining a consistent speed on the road, also be sure to stay several car lengths behind the vehicles in front of you. No one likes a tailgater.
- Bombing During Parallel Parking
Along with four-way stops and lane changes, parallel parking is another aspect of driving that makes people nervous. Fortunately, driver inspectors know this, so it is not a deal breaker if your parallel park job is not perfect.
If you are asked to do this on your test, the main thing to avoid is running over the curb or hitting other cars. A gentle bump of the curb is OK, but forcefully running it over is not. Again, always signal your intentions, and take your time and make as many adjustments as you need.
Whether you’re a new driver or have been behind the wheel for decades, optimizing your experience on the roads is what we do best here at Searles, which is why we were voted Best Automotive Service (Independent) in 2016 by readers of the Victoria News.
Give us a call at 250-475-2000 or book an appointment online for your next inspection or service. Spring is in the air, and so why not give your car a little spring cleaning as well? We do detailing!