PARKING LOT Starting, Stopping and Turning | THE BASICS

| Driving Lessons |

Learning to drive is a rite of passage for many, filled with excitement and, admittedly, a bit of anxiety. For new drivers, mastering the basics of operating a vehicle is crucial for confidence on the road. This guide focuses on essential skills every driver should learn: stopping, starting, and turning the vehicle smoothly and safely.

Supervised Driving LOG

The Goal

The objective is simple yet fundamental: help new drivers become proficient in stopping, starting, and turning safely. Achieving control and smoothness in these basic maneuvers lays the groundwork for more advanced driving skills.

The Learning Environment

Look for large empty parking lots in an industrial park or public facility during closed hours with no traffic, parked cars or pedestrians and with minimal obstructions. Schedule practice during the day with dry pavement and clear weather.  Avoid driving time when the sun may be directly in the driver’s view or when the weather is bad.

Educational Materials 

The Supervised Driving Log.  Although it was originally created for California Teens Learning to Drive, this FREE and COMPLEMENTARY driving log is an essential tool for all new drivers.  Keeping a driving log is great for tracking how you’re doing, finding what you need to get better at, and feeling good about your wins. It helps you learn in an organized way, focusing on key skills to make you a better driver faster. This careful tracking builds confidence and speeds up your path to driving well.

The Activity

Our practical exercise uses existing lines on a parking lot or a similar safe, flat space to create an “L” shape course. This setup simulates real-world driving scenarios, providing a controlled environment for practice.  Before driving (while your car is in PARK and parking brake engaged), review and practice operating the turn signals, turning the steering wheel, and stepping on the brakes.  Driving coaches should demonstrate the following activity for student drivers by driving a lap around the predetermined course.

  1. Starting and Stop: Begin with slowly releasing the brake pedal.  Place your foot on the gas pedal and gentle acceleration to drive up to a predetermined landmark that is acting as your limit line. Stop the vehicle as smoothly as possible just before the landmark. The key here is gentle deceleration, avoiding abrupt stops.
  2. Start Again: After a complete stop, start moving towards the next landmark. This part of the exercise emphasizes smooth acceleration, preventing jerky starts.
  3. Turn Using Turn Signals: At the corner of the “L” shape, practice using the turn signal and turning. The aim is to maintain control and precision, ensuring the turn is neither too tight nor too wide.
  4. Repeat: Continue the exercise, focusing on refining these skills. With each repetition, the new driver should grow more comfortable and adept at controlling the vehicle.

Common Errors

  • Abrupt Stops and Accelerations: These not only cause discomfort but also indicate a lack of control over the vehicle. Smoothness is key.
  • Improper Turns: Whether too tight or too wide, incorrect turns can lead to mishaps. Practice is essential for getting them just right.
  • Turning Without Looking: Always look in the direction of the turn before and during the maneuver. This ensures awareness of the surroundings.
  • Gripping the Steering Wheel Too Tightly: A relaxed yet firm grip on the steering wheel allows for better control and responsiveness.

Assessment & Evaluation

You’ll know progress is being made when the new driver operates the car smoothly. This includes controlled stops and starts, as well as turns executed with the right balance of caution and confidence.

Use a progress tracker to keep track of skills that have been mastered and those that still need practice or improvement.  Express Driving School proudly offers a Driving Skills and Goals Progress Tracker to help student drivers and their driving coaches with assessments and evaluations by providing a rating scale that is simple and easy to use.

driving goals progress tracker

PARKING LOT Starting, Stopping and Turning | THE BASICS

Mastering stopping, starting, and turning are foundational skills that every driver needs. While common errors are part of the learning process, recognizing and correcting them early on fosters a safer driving environment. Remember, patience and consistent practice are your best tools for success. With time and dedication, these basic maneuvers will become second nature, paving the way for a lifetime of safe and enjoyable driving.

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