Getting your driver’s license is almost like a rite of passage. The vast majority of 15- and 16-year-olds eagerly await the day that they can hold that tiny laminated card in their hands. To them, it represents freedom and impending adulthood.
Yet as important as the driver’s exam is, a surprising number of teenagers fail it the first time around. The Centers for Disease Control has a number of alarming statistics about teen drivers who were unprepared for the responsibility of owning a driver’s license. Some try to pass without adequate practice. Others don’t know what to expect. Lots of teens fail simply due to nervousness. There are many things that can go wrong on exam day, but if you adhere to the advice below, you’ll greatly improve your chances of passing on the first try.
The best way to get anything done is to be prepared. Make sure to pick up a copy of the Texas driver’s guide (make sure it’s for Texas—the rules vary slightly from state to state!). Read this document cover to cover. It will be your best friend when it comes time to take your test. It’s a lot to take in—the rules of the road can seem daunting, and even arbitrary, to a new driver.
If you’re at all nervous, search for a Texas-approved online defensive driving course. This can get you some much-needed hands-on experience behind the wheel, and being comfortable in the driver’s seat is crucial to passing.
You can make great strides towards obtaining that license simply by paying attention on your road test. If there’s a school zone coming up, slow down (driving instructors love to take you through a school zone to make sure you’re paying attention to the signs). Check your mirrors regularly, and always know if there’s someone in your blind spot.
Don’t strike up a conversation with the instructor. Even if you’re a normally chatty person, or the silence in the car is uncomfortable, resist the urge to engross yourself in an anecdote. They could interpret your talking as a lack of focus, or even just think that you’re showing off. Either one is bad.
Of course, it’s possible that they would talk to you, just to see how you react to stimuli. If that happens, feel free to talk. If it’s distracting, politely tell them so. You’ll win points for focusing on safety.
Courtesy can mean the difference between pass and fail. Show up early. Don’t be cocky or abrasive—you can get points deducted for showing off. Definitely don’t cut people off during the driving portion of your test. Instead, let people merge with you. Keep your cool on the road, and your instructor will take note.
The driver’s exam is not as hard as some people make it out to be. In fact, many of the rules are simply common sense. The reasons people tend to fail the first attempt is because they put so much pressure on themselves, and crack when it comes time to drive. So, in addition to being prepared, aware, and polite, remember that it’s important to: Be Relaxed.