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Questions for New Drivers

As your teen's principal driver education teacher, your most important job is to help your teen develop safe driving habits and skills. Remember how long it took to teach your child to walk and talk? Plan on approximately the same amount of time to teach him/her to drive!

FYI, parents: Young drivers DO NOT constantly scan the entire driving environment with the vigilance of veteran drivers. To help build driving awareness, when you are driving with the youth take advantage of the opportunity to point out your driving observations, assessment, reasons for positioning your vehicle and other other driving decisions you make. 

  1. What is the first thing we do before we start the car?
    (Buckle your safety belt.)
  2. Why is it important to behave in the car?
    (To avoid distracting the driver.)
  3. What is the meaning of each signal light?
    (Red: stop; Yellow: stop safely; Green: go cautiously)
  4. Why is it important to use the turn indicator?
    (To communicate accurate information to other drivers.)
  5. In a vehicle with an airbag, why should hands be positioned on the steering wheel at 3 and 9, or 4 and 8?
    (The airbag deploys at 200 mph and can break thumbs if positioned at 10 and 2. In vehicles without airbags, the appropriate position is identical to help stabilize the arms and lessen fatigue through shoulders and neck, particularly on long drives.)
  6. Why is it important to wait a full three seconds at a stop sign?
    (It takes that long for observation information to reach the brain and then to conscious thought.)
  7. Why is it important to keep the volume low on the radio and to never wear headphones while driving?
    (To hear sirens, car distress noises and prevent early hearing loss.)
  8. What action is to be taken if we hear or see an emergency vehicle with flashing lights?
    (Move to the right as soon as it is safe to do so and stop.)
  9. Why do we wait for pedestrians in the crosswalk or at corners before continuing to drive?
    (So they will be safe and we do not hit them, plus, for crosswalks, it's the law.)
  10. How often do car mirrors need to be checked while driving?
    (Every 20 seconds.)
  11. Why do we follow every traffic law consistently?
    (So every other driver can depend on us.)
  12. Why is it especially important to drive the speed limit in neighborhoods and school zones?
    (To be able to stop safely if children or pets run into the road.)
  13. Why is it important to wear safety belts properly?
    (To avoid a broken back, neck or head injuries in the event of an accident.)
  14. When is it safe to unbuckle a safety belt? (When the vehicle is parked and passengers can get out safely.)
  15. Up to what age do youth safely sit in the back seat properly safety belted? (15)
  16. Why do we keep our eyes on the road?
    (Because we must watch other drivers' behaviors and keep our own car on the road.)
  17. Why do we follow the "4-second rule" to determine the proper space between our car and the car in front of us?
    (To give ourselves a cushion for avoiding or stopping safely without hitting the car in front.)
  18. Why don't we talk on a cell phone, read a book or groom while driving?
    (In Oregon, cell phone use by drivers under age 18 is against the law. Regardless of age, cell phone use (whether hand-held or hands-free) in a car is responsible for 40 percent of fatal crashes and reduces by half your ability to perform the required skills needed at all times to drive safely. Reading or grooming means we are not looking at the road. Distraction is a MAJOR contributor to fatal and injury car crashes.)
  19. Why is it unsafe to wear a backpack while riding in a car? (The weight of the backpack can break your back if you are in a crash or make a sudden stop.)
  20. Did you see how that car didn't signal to tell us where he wanted to move the car?
  21. Did you see that driver who didn't wait for the pedestrian?
  22. Did you see that driver speed up to go through the yellow light?
  23. Did you see that the car up ahead has begun to brake?
  24. Did you see how that pedestrian did not use the crosswalk?
  25. Did you see the little child on the sidewalk (in the driveway, etc.)?
  26. Did you see that car signal but then make a different maneuver?
  27. What's wrong with the way that person is driving?
  28. Did you see or hear the emergency vehicle?

4-Second Rule

To determine the right following distance, first select a fixed object on the road ahead such as a sign, tree or overpass. When the vehicle ahead of you passes the object, slowly count "one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand, four one thousand " If you reach the object before completing the count, you're following too closely. Making sure there are four seconds between you and the car ahead gives you time and distance to respond to problems in the lane ahead of you. When the roads are wet (which increases stopping time) increase the distance to six seconds.

This driving instruction aid was developed by Trauma Nurses Talk Tough as part of its Graduated Driver's Licensing Workshop.