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Driving can feel intimidating at first. There are a lot of things that you’ve seen from the passenger seat a million times, but you’ve never been behind the wheel doing it yourself. Just putting the car in different gears seems like enough for the first lesson on its own.

There’s a lot to take in when you are just starting to drive, but don’t get ahead of yourself. The information below is an overview of the driving basics you’ll want to focus on first from adjusting the mirrors to parallel parking. Pretty soon you’ll be putting it all together and confidently cruising on your own. 

Pre-Drive Checklist

Fun and challenging times have finally come! You’re behind the wheel and about to hit the road. But wait a second, there are a couple of things you’ve got to do to get ready to drive before turning on the engine.

  • Before getting in visually inspect the car.
  • Adjust the driver’s seat for a safe driving position and good view.
  • Check to make sure you can reach each pedal.
  • Put on your seatbelt.
  • Adjust all the mirrors.
  • Set the AC controls for comfort.
  • Make sure you can clearly read the gauges on the dash.

Before getting into a car, look behind and in front of it. There are blind spots once you are behind the wheel. Be aware of them and always check your blind spots before moving.

Staying in Your Lane

Once the pre-drive checklist is complete you're ready to get on the road. One of the most important things to be conscious of is your position in the lane. You want to stay in the driving line, which means driving down the center of the lane.

The trickiest part of staying in your lane happens when you turn. Sometimes there may not be markings on the ground to guide you as the road curves and you change direction.

Using Reference Points to Park or Stop

Stopping is definitely essential for driving, and parking can be one of the more advanced skills. But from inside the car, it can be hard to gauge where your vehicle is at in relation to other things. To overcome this issue you can use reference points to understand how your car is located when you approach a stop line or start to park.

A reference point is a part of your vehicle that you align with something on the side of the road in order to gauge the position of your vehicle and distance from other objects.

For example, the center of the hood is a reference point for parallel parking. When you see the line of the curb intersect the middle of the hood you know your right tire is about 3-6 inches from the edge of the curb.

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