Correct Common Mistakes | California DMV Drive Test

Written By | Doreen Almirol | 20+ years CA DMV Licensed Driving Instructor


Taking on the California drive test can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. To increase your chances of success, it’s crucial to be aware of common mistakes that test-takers often make.

In this article, we’ll highlight some of the most frequent errors encountered during the California drive test and provide suggested corrections to help you confidently navigate the road to success.

1 | Failure to Check Blind Spots

Mistake: Neglecting to check blind spots during lane changes or merges is a common error. This oversight can compromise safety and result in point deductions.

Correction: Make a habit of checking your blind spots by turning your head and looking over your shoulder before changing lanes or merging. Utilize your mirrors, but remember they don’t provide a complete view.

2 | Inconsistent Speed Control

Mistake: Failing to maintain a consistent speed is a frequent error. Abrupt accelerations or decelerations can not only be unsafe but also indicate a lack of control.

Correction: Practice maintaining a steady speed, especially when approaching intersections, turns, and traffic signals. Use gentle acceleration and braking to ensure a smooth driving experience.

3 | Poor Parking Maneuvers

Mistake: Parking errors, such as misjudging distances during curb parking or during parking lot driving, are common pitfalls.

Correction: Practice parking in various scenarios, paying close attention to precision and accuracy. Avoid hitting any curbs.  Take your time, use reference points, and adjust your position as needed to ensure a well-executed parking maneuver.

4 | Incomplete Stops at Stop Signs

Mistake: Rolling through stop signs without coming to a complete stop is a significant error. This not only violates traffic laws but also jeopardizes safety.

Correction: Make a conscious effort to come to a complete stop at stop signs, counting to at least three seconds before proceeding. Ensure the vehicle is stationary before continuing on your route.

5 | Misuse of Turn Signals

Mistake: Incorrect or untimely use of turn signals can lead to confusion among other drivers and pedestrians.

Correction: Correction: Signal your intentions clearly and in advance. Activate your turn signal at least 100 feet (six car lengths) before making a turn or (at least two seconds) before changing lanes, giving others ample time to react.

6 | Failure to Yield Right of Way

Mistake: Misunderstanding or neglecting right-of-way rules, especially at intersections, can result in dangerous situations.

Correction: Brush up on right-of-way rules and practice yielding when required. Exercise caution at intersections and be prepared to yield to other vehicles or pedestrians as dictated by traffic laws.

7 | Neglecting to Check Traffic Signs

Mistake: Ignoring or misinterpreting traffic signs can lead to missed instructions and errors during the drive test.

Correction: Stay vigilant and observant of all traffic signs, including speed limits, stop signs, and directional indicators. Adhering to posted signs is essential for a successful drive test.

8 | Lack of Observance for Pedestrians

Mistake: Failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks or not anticipating pedestrian movements is a common mistake.

Correction: Be extra cautious in areas with pedestrians, especially in parking lots, around crosswalks and school zones. Always yield the right of way to pedestrians and anticipate their actions.

9 | Overlooking Mirror Checks

Mistake: Inadequate use of rearview and side mirrors can compromise awareness of surrounding traffic conditions.

Correction: Regularly check your mirrors to stay aware of your surroundings. Develop a habit of scanning mirrors before making turns, changing lanes, or adjusting your speed.

10 | Nervous Driving

Mistake: Allowing nerves to affect your driving can lead to a cascade of mistakes.

Correction: Stay calm and focused during the test. Take deep breaths if you feel anxious and concentrate on the task at hand. Plenty of driving practice and exposure to different traffic situations will ensure your highest confidence.  Remember, confidence and composure are essential components of safe driving.

By recognizing and addressing these common mistakes during your practice sessions, you’ll be better prepared to navigate the California drive test successfully. Remember, the drive test is not only about demonstrating technical skills but also showcasing your ability to drive safely and responsibly.

Best of luck on your journey to obtaining your California driver's license!