Everything You Need to Know to Pass the Driving Test

FunnyDriversTestSheetMost teens are eager to get their driver’s license. So eager, in fact, that the Princeton Review is considering publishing a driving-test booklet for the written test.*

*That’s probably not true. If it is true, I’ll probably get sued for revealing trade secrets. (“The Princeton Review: Cracking the Circuit Court, 2013 Edition.”)

Unfortunately, the state governments have created a number of obstacles to getting your license, mostly to appease the ultra-powerful common sense lobby. Some of these obstacles are straightforward, like speed bumps—originally created to make driving less comfortable for teens, although this backfired after teens interpreted them as jump ramps—while others are more obscure, like the law that says any car given to a teen has to have at least three dents, with at least one of them coming from Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Nonetheless, teens still manage to obtain licenses as soon as possible, often earning them on their 16th or 17th birthday. Of course, to do so, one must pass both the written test and driving test. (A few very talented teens have actually passed both at the same time, with the help of a steering-wheel desk). And, while we’ve previously told you how to cruise right through that written test, we have not yet touched upon the driving test.

At some point, you’ve probably asked yourself: why do you do this? Why do you reveal the secrets to tests created to keep people safe on the road?

Well, to that I have two answers. The first is that you’re a better driver than many already on the road, so it’s not like you’re making it that much less safe. After all, neither 80-year-old drivers nor NASCAR professionals drive the speed limit. (One theory is that the 80-year-olds are trying to somehow compensate for all of the people speeding. It’s worked fairly well, too: if you’re going 25mph on the freeway, it’s easy to avoid the NASCAR racer driving at a 90-degree angle on the vertical cement divider.)

The second answer is that I’m here to help you, of course. And by you, I mean me, sort of how most people usually mean “me” when they say “you.” (For example: “I love you.”). If you pass the driving tests without too much studying, you’re more likely to read this blog in all that extra spare time.

So, without further ado, just how are you going to pass the driving test?

The First Impression

You’ll be nervous. If you normally sweat, don’t drink anything for three weeks before the driving test. You know what they say: dead men don’t sweat.

After all, to establish a good rapport with your evaluator, you’re going to want to shake their hand as soon as they get in your car. To establish a really good rapport, slide out of the handshake, slap back-and-forth with your hand, and then fist-bump-explode out. (This is not recommended for evaluators over the age of 30).

You should also make sure that your car is clean, especially concerning the dead bodies in your back seat. If you can’t move them on your own, then it’s generally acceptable to just put them in a nice suit and tie. This also involves removing anything that’s on your dashboard or hanging from your mirror, such as dice.

Hanging dice from mirrors has a lot in common with 90% of all teen fashion, in that nobody knows why others think it is a good idea. I mean, are you playing Parcheesi with other drivers at a red light? If you can’t wait until you get home to do that, I think you should see an addiction specialist.

The Stop Signs

As a general rule, you need to emphasize that you can drive safely, correctly, and with your eyes open.

Most teens have trouble with stop signs. This is because many people have incorrectly assumed that these red, octagonal signs are a massive federally funded anti-smoking campaign, and that they are strategically placed at busy intersections where people are most likely to see them. So, when you stop, it will feel like an eternity compared to the drivers around you, who often speed up through stop signs to demonstrate their true level of nonchalance.

And why do people hate stopping? Because it takes time. Since you have to stop during the driving test, however, you might as well not let that time go to waste. So, bring your English novel and read a chapter at every stop sign. If your driving evaluator starts to look impatient, that’s just ‘cause they don’t want to be excluded from the story. This is solved by reading aloud to them, unless it is Wuthering Heights, in which case, they will be required by law to automatically fail you.

The Lane Merging

Merging is something not covered in most written tests, because when written, it seems simple: turn on your signal and pull into a gap in the adjacent lane.

This simplistic description, however, doesn’t take into account the fact that there are no gaps in the adjacent lane, and all of the cars and drivers in the adjacent lane are devoted to ensuring that no gaps appear. In fact, even if a brick wall suddenly appeared in the lane, one study found that 90% of drivers will attempt to drive through it to prevent any gaps in the lane from forming*.

*Unsurprisingly, this study took place in San Francisco.

Now, on any normal route, most teen drivers think ahead as to what lane they need to be in. If necessary, we’ll track that lane up to 50 miles opposite direction until we can find where it starts, just to avoid any lane changes. On the driving test, though, the state wants to see if you can change lanes at a moment’s notice, I guess to add some excitement to the driving evaluators’ otherwise dull jobs of spending 10 hours a day in a car with someone who learned to drive yesterday.

While there are many terrific strategies to merging quickly—such as merging and then signaling, or finding a VW Bug and just bumping it out of the lane—on the driving test, you’re bound by the law. This means that other drivers will be aware that you’re trying to merge, and compensate adequately by making faces at you as they speed up to close any lane gaps to within an inch.

To add to that stress, most driving tests involve a lane change when the lane ends, meaning you’re going to have a limited amount of time to merge before you hit the concrete wall that people think it’s a good idea to end lanes with.

So, the merging advice is simple. You need to find the toughest bumper stickers you can and place them on your car. “If you don’t eat jalapenos peppers before your morning coffee, you’re not alive!” or “Yeah, I lost an arm fighting off a pack of rabid wolves, but at least I didn’t lose my compass.” You’d be an idiot to not to allow these sort of people to merge, and a gap in the lane will appear for you.

The “Awareness”

One of the other things you’re evaluated on is how “aware” of your surroundings you appear to be. The key word there is “appear.”

Obviously, you don’t want to wear sunglasses, obscuring your eyes and making it impossible for the evaluator to tell if you check your mirrors. In fact, most people suggest wearing a baseball hat so that it is obvious when you turn your head to check mirrors. To make that an even better idea, you should wear one of those jester hats with the bells. Now, not only is it visually obvious that you’re turning your head, it’s also audibly obvious. Plus, if you take the exam sometime in the Christmas season, the driving instructor won’t even think you’re a total freak—just slightly deranged.

The other thing you can do to appear more aware is to offer commentary on your surroundings. For example, when you check your left side mirror, you might say something like: “Wow, that blue van behind me has a major dent on its left side and some metal stuck in its front left tire. It must have hit an inexperienced merging driver a few minutes ago. Hey, look! You can even see the driver who was trying to merge; he’s clinging to the back bumper.”

Conclusion

I’ll confess that I haven’t told you everything you need to know to pass the driving test. I didn’t mention the whole part about taking yellow lights at mach 3, or braking hard before sharp turns to get that cool movie-style screech. I did hit on the major points, however, and that’s all you need. After all, if the DMV says you only need an 80% on the driving test to pass, that’s good enough for me. Even if that 20% failed includes things such as knocking down mailboxes—although, really, you probably just saved them from some college mail anyways.

Yeah, I’m still here. Trust me, I’ll let you know if I ever plan to stop posting. Otherwise, just assume that the next post, as always, will be coming as soon as my junior-year-is-crazy schedule allows. If you’ve liked the blog, you can stay more up-to-date, as I’ll try to post on the Facebook page about any kinks in the posting schedule. (To make up for that long gap, this post is longer than usual.)

And, of course, there’s always the archives to browse if you get impatient. Which brings me to not one, but two terrific posts published in March last year. The first consists of some hilarious summaries of some “classic” English novels, and is one of my personal favorites. The second is some outstanding backpack fashion advice, entitled “6 Awesome Ways to Wear Your Backpack.”

A Guide to School Bus Emergency Safety Features

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(click image to zoom) Correction: A bus driver has alerted me to the fact that there are actually 0 airbags on the bus.

It’s a well-known fact that teens are pretty safe people. We don’t engage in high risk behaviors, we have a fully developed brain, and we are usually asked to be consultants to many of the major airbag companies.

Ha. If only that were true. Actually, aside from skydivers and human cannonballs, teens are probably the least safe group of people, in the history of the world, ever. I could go into all of the terrible alleged things we do, but, in the interest of not writing a 1,900,000 word blog post, I won’t.

No, the real reason I’m bringing this to your attention is that if you’re already unsafe, you really need to take advantage of every external safety feature in your life. And that includes time spent on a school bus. So, in the interest of preserving the lives of my readers, I’ve broken down just how you can stay safe on the school bus.

Brace Yourself

Unfortunately, safety cartoon cards instructing you in proper brace-positions are reserved for airplanes, because the airlines can’t afford lawyers to fight off lawsuits, while—little known fact—most school bus drivers have an ivy-league law degree (the economy is still recovering).

As a teen, though, you are probably smart enough to understand that you should try and brace for a crash/flip/rollover. The real issue is figuring out how to brace yourself.

You could just push against the seat in front of you, but 9 times out of 10 the only thing holding it in place is dried gum. Plus, your head could get stuck in one of the gaping holes in the back of the seat, and then you’d suffocate on that toxic gray foam the seats are stuffed with.

Another option would be to brace yourself against the wall of the bus, but if you haven’t already noticed, the whole bus is just one large, metal can, so it won’t be too much better.

Ideally, you can find some friends to lean against, and their bodies will cushion the impact. If no one is around, though, it’s probably a good idea to just stick your head inside a large textbook and let that act as a helmet.

Emergency Exits

Yep, the fun part of any bus-safety crisis. See, most school buses have from 2-4 doors; when you load/unload the bus, the bus driver limits you to using only one just because they like to feel important (they’re lawyers, remember).

Plus, many school buses have emergency exit windows, every third window. They are rarely used, but bus companies figured out that they could save even more money by not completely attaching the windows and then calling it a safety feature.

So, in the event that the bus gets in a situation where evacuation is necessary immediately, you’ve got a lot of options. You have so many options, in fact, that there is really no reason to remain on the bus in any situation. As soon as your speed is below fifteen miles an hour, just exit, assuming you’re not on the freeway. In that case, get out of there regardless of speed; the bus is either going to hit another car going 60+ mph or a solid concrete barrier.*

*Note: I am not a bus safety expert. This is probably not what a bus safety expert would recommend, assuming bus safety experts even exist. I am an ivy-league lawyer, however, so don’t bother suing me. We are everywhere. (I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but your toaster is also a practicing personal injury lawyer that graduated from Columbia. It’s a new cost-saving measure enacted by appliance companies. If you get burned, you can just settle your claim immediately).

Bus Safety Supplies

In addition to having absolutely no solid brace position and loads of emergency exits, the school bus you ride on likely has a number of safety supply kits. You’ve got the bodily fluid clean-up kit, the first aid kit, the fire extinguisher kit, the second aid kit, the flare kit, the understudy to the first aid kit, and the bodily fluid spill-again-for-laughs kit.

Furthermore, you’ve got a fire blanket, traffic cones, a broom, and a radio. All of those, save the radio, are found in various labeled metal lunch boxes left over from the 1980s.

Now the biggest problem with these safety features is that they are strapped to the bus. Remember, in case of an emergency, you’re going to first brace yourself and then exit the bus. Nowhere in there are you supposed to risk your life for a fire blanket or safety kit. Thus, while they may give you a false sense of security, they are only useful for personal emergencies, such as those times when you left your bodily fluids at home and need some to get you through the day.

Overall, I have no idea how safe or how dangerous school buses actually are. Thankfully, due to manufacturing restrictions, most school buses can only go 5 mph and have to stop every block (regardless of whether or not kids need to de-bus) to remind the cars behind them just how much it sucks to be stuck behind a bus.

If you’re lucky, you won’t even have to take the bus because school is canceled due to snow days. Unfortunately, because of global warming, “We Need More Snow Days.”

Getting the Most Status from Your Ability to Drive

A huge LanyardSociety can be pretty backwards.

For example, look at cars. As a 16 year old, you are not trusted to check a little box on a paper ballot and mail it in. I guess people are worried that you’ll stab yourself with the pen and get ink in your blood. You are, however, trusted to control a multi-ton hunk of metal hurdling forwards at speeds faster than any animal can run. With that, people are convinced that you’ll be so busy crashing into things it will be virtually impossible to stab yourself with a pen and get ink in your blood.

Now, I know that above paragraph is graphic and morbid, but let’s face it: we love it that way! So what if you can’t vote—you can drive, man.

Look at it from the teen perspective. Voting’s cool, but it’s really hard to show that off on a daily basis. Are you going to tape a ballot to your arm? Maybe you’ll mention it every time you talk? Get a permanent tattoo on your cheek that says “Dude, I voted?” Not at all.

When you drive, though, you can find ways to constantly remind everyone that, well, you drive, which is considered pretty darn cool. Sure, that can be accomplished just by having a cool car, but sometimes that’s out of your control. I mean, if your parents were willing to pay for most of that Stretch Hummer*, then it didn’t really matter how badly you wanted that used Honda.

*Many of you are probably thinking that no parents would pay for a Stretch Hummer for their newly licensed teen driver. You are all wrong. If the parents have enough money, this is probably their first choice; who’s going to ever get close enough to a Stretch Hummer to cause an accident?

Taking that into consideration, here is how to get the most out of that cool ‘licensed’ status, by changing things you can control.

Show Off Your Keys

Car keys are terrific. Even when you are not in a car, they remind everyone that you have a car to drive, and a driver’s license. They get this message across so effectively that I predict in 10 years ‘cool’ teens will walk around wearing car keys as earrings.

Even now, you can show you have car keys with the helpful tool of something called a lanyard. Basically, it’s a necklace for keys. Obviously, then, wearing it around your neck is a nerdy thing to do; that’s what it was invented for.

Instead, you should keep your keys in your pocket and let the lanyard dangle down your leg like a large blood-sucking leech attached to your thigh. The bigger the lanyard, the better. It needs to be unmistakable that you have car keys. Ideally, you can just buy a 50-yard length of ribbon and create your own massive lanyard that often accidentally causes those walking behind you to trip.

Drive Without Care

If you drive in your neighborhood, or at your school parking lot, you know that how you drive says just as much about you as what you drive. So, just like being cool in other aspects of life, it’s all about not caring.

Act as if you don’t care that you almost crashed into that lamp pole. So what, if you just ran over the parking barrier. Who cares that your car just went up on two wheels? Not you.

Just be careful to never sacrifice your safety, because going to the hospital hasn’t been cool since the 00’s.

Give Rides

If you give people a ride in your car, it does two things. First of all, the people you give rides to will forever remember that you have a car and are thus cooler than the riders. Secondly, it gives you an ability to directly mention that you have a car and a license in front of everyone around you. I’ve actually witnessed conversations just like this, and I’m sure you have as well:

[At the end of an event, like a soccer practice or orchestra concert]
Cool Guy (CG) with a Car: Hey, does anybody need a ride?
Everyone else: Nope. No. No thanks.
CG: Okay. Because, you know, I can give rides if anyone needs one.
Guy 1: Dude, I’m fine. I can walk home.
CG: But, um, it’s nice outside. There’s no rain or anything. Are you sure you want to risk a sunburn? ‘Cause I can give you a ride.
Guy 1: What? I’m fine, man.
Guy 2: I think my mom’s just coming a little late.
CG: Well, I can give you a ride.
Guy 2: No, I mean-
CG: I could, like, drive to your mom on the road, and you could switch cars.
Guy 2: No thanks.
CG: Does anyone need a ride? Does anyone want a ride?
Guy 3: Man, I’m hungry.
CG: What? You want to go drive and get food somewhere far away? I can give you a ride, you know.
Guy 3: Naw, I’ll wait ‘til I get home.
CG: Well, I can give you a ride home, too.
Guy 3: Dude, my car is parked at the end of the lot.
CG: Oh. Hey, but my car is right in front. Do you want a ride to your car?
Guy 3: No.
CG: How about you just sit in my car for a few seconds?
Guy 3: No thanks.
CG: Well, wanna take a rain check? I’ll give you a ride some other time.
Guy 3: No. Leave me alone, man.
CG: That’s it! I’m disgusted! I’m going to go catch a squirrel and force it to accept a ride!

If you don’t yet have your license, or a car, then I’m sure these things are great annoyances in your daily life. Amazingly, though, they will instantly become your favorite pastimes once you gain the ability to drive. Until then, maybe you ought to start carrying your post office key on a lanyard with you everywhere.

Suppose you can’t drive, yet, though. In that case, maybe you’ll improve your cool status by making fix to those grammar problems you done have. “3 Reasons Why Me and You Need To Talk–In a Dark Alley,” should shape you right up.

Everything You Need to Know to Pass the Written Driving Test

If you can't see this picture, you're missing out

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One of the more brilliant ideas that our government has come up with over the years is the driver’s knowledge (written) test. If you are going to let someone drive a car, then half of their assessment should definitely be based on a multiple choice test.

This is absolutely genius. I mean, driving is exactly like sitting in front of a computer clicking the mouse. You’re staring straight ahead with a bored look on your face, moving your hands to make the pictures in front of you change.

But wait, it gets better. You need to get an 80% to pass the test! Talk about keeping our roads safe.

For example, let’s say some hypothetical bad driver (who is statistically probably a teen boy) is taking the test. He only misses one question, so he passes. However, that one very difficult question showed him a “DO NOT ENTER” sign and asked him what it meant.

He had four choices. It meant: a) the driver should enter the road; b) that the sign maker was supposed to type “Do Not” and then hit ‘enter,’ but he misread the directions; c) that the driver should not enter onto the road; or d) that the driver should never again enter anything, be it a building, contract, or road.

Now, this hypothetical teen boy didn’t know the answer, so he did the smart thing. He realized that most people will guess letter ‘c,’ and he figured that letter ‘c’ was the answer that made the most sense. Therefore, letter ‘c’ must be a trick answer, so he guessed ‘d.’

Nonetheless, he still passed. But he’s not a safe driver. The next time he sees a DO NOT ENTER sign, he’s going to ignore it. Let’s say it’s a freeway off ramp. In a best-case scenario, he causes a twenty-five mile long car pile-up and makes the road impassable for a week. If it was during rush hour, then the pile-up could stretch as far as all the way around the world, so he is hit from both the front and back.

Suddenly, because this teen didn’t get 100% on his driver’s knowledge test, he’s in a terrible situation. As unlikely as it seems, this could happen to you. So, I’m here to make sure you pass your driver’s knowledge test with a perfect score.

The Signs

Lots of times, you’ll be presented with a question along the lines of “What does this sign mean?” These questions are your friend, because they are easy.

If you’re stuck, look at the color of the sign. Each color means something different. Red is prohibitive, yellow is a warning, orange is road work, vomit green is a carsickness hazard, and if you see sky blue you’re probably looking in the wrong direction. (That’s why McDonald’s chose yellow for their ‘M;’ it’s a warning that it’s bad for your health).

Another thing you can look at is what’s on the sign. In school, if the question was “Does the sign saying ‘Right turn permitted without stopping’ mean you can make a right turn without stopping?” it’s obviously a trick question. On this test, the questions can be that easy.

If the sign has arrows, they usually denote the road’s path ahead. Therefore, a sign with an arrow tells you that the road does not abruptly come to a stop at a cliff edge, but rather continues ahead (regardless of the curves in the arrows present, this is true). If you don’t see an answer dealing with a sharp cliff drop, assume that the question was poorly written and choose any answer with “full speed ahead” (since you don’t have to worry about driving off the end of the road).

The Speeds

The nice thing about speed limits is that they aren’t secret. Otherwise, life would be much more difficult. “But officer, Haley said that John said that Stew said that Barbara said that she’d overheard someone whispering this speed limit was 45!”

Sadly, on the written test (which, remember, is a terrific indicator of real life performance), they’ll ask you questions like “How fast should you go on a two-lane road with a double yellow line that climbs a hill in the middle of a city block next to a coffee shop drive-thru?”

There is no way to study for these questions. The only thing you can do is remember some basic rules, such as the answer is rarely more than a three-digit speed limit.

The Right-of-Way

For some reason, many people like to talk about how difficult it is to learn who has the right of way. However, it’s very easy to learn.

Basically, if you’re on the right, and you both got to a stop sign at the same time, you have the right of way. It’s not called the left-of-way, or the straight ahead-of-way, or even the curds-of-whey. It’s the right-of-way.

The only other rule is that the right-of-way goes to whoever is already on the road. If you’re turning onto a road, anyone on that road already has the right-of-way. This can get confusing, because sometimes the people with the right-of-way will be on the left. While this seems like it would cause the universe to just instantly cease to exist, I assure you, it’s okay.

The exception to any of these rules is that monster trucks, tanks, and the President of the United States will always have the right of way.

Congratulations. You know now everything you need to know, save the stuff I left out, to pass the driver’s written test. If you are still unable to pass this test, well, let’s just say your grades are probably more of a concern then your driving ability.

Last year at this time we brought you, “Learning about the Middle Ages and Avoiding Depression.” Yes, both learning and the middle ages are very depressing.

Readers: As a heads up, this year is the infamous junior year for me. I’m going to continue posting as often as possible, but posts might be a little farther than 2 or 3 days apart (like they used to be). To make up for it, I’ll try to make the new posts a little longer, as this one was.