Driver’s Ed 101

Now that I’ve been back in the driving world for over a year, I have started to add up some observations on common driving mistakes. I don’t believe that these are inherent to just the drivers in my city but there is one in particular which I’ve noticed that really shouldn’t be a problem if you are an experienced driver.

Let’s talk about backing out of parking spaces, shall we? Take this woman, for instance:

I can’t believe that the person waiting for the woman to figure out how to park waited as long as he did. I do admire him for finally asking if he could park the woman’s car for her. I DON’T believe this woman should be a licensed driver.

What I don’t appreciate is that there seems to be this misapprehension that women are terrible drivers. There are plenty of horrible male drivers in this world, as well. For some people, driving is instinctual – you just GET it. I am one of those people. My best friend has never learned how to drive and isn’t interested at all. She placed herself in a city where she has reliable public transportation. Kudos to her!

I yearned to learn how to drive at a very early age and by the time I turned nine, I started counting the years until I turned sixteen and I would finally get my license. I’m not even kidding. The day I got my driver’s license was one of the happiest in my entire life. I remember it fondly. My mom was nervous about me “tooling around” on my own but quickly realized what a boon it was to have a daughter more than willing to run errands, just so she could drive the car all by herself.

Now that I have been a licensed driver for over half of my existence, I can safely say that it is one of the best gifts a person can have. I thought about how fortunate I am to be able to own and drive my own car the other day as I was on my way to work. I still get a kick out of driving each and every day. And I think road trips are as fun as they are therapeutic.

While there were plenty of times I liked riding the subway when I lived in New York, I have an even fuller appreciation for being able to drive to work now. It doesn’t hurt that my commute isn’t a one-hour, clogged traffic jam everyday, either. Still, until you’ve sacrificed your personal space on a crowded rush-hour train in New York City, you can’t know how freeing it feels to be able to throw your things in the passenger seat, blast heat or air conditioning as you see fit, be able to sit the whole time, and listen to music as loudly as you want (or not). It’s a serious sigh of relief.

However, I do believe that having a license is something that most people take for granted; there might be many fewer accidents otherwise. I still maintain my position on minivans, by the way, as just this morning the light turned green but we all waited for the minivan flying at 50mph to plow through the intersection on a red light. (And it was a man driving.) Driving is as much about courtesy to others as it is a convenience for us to get ourselves around.

Backing into and out of parking spaces is a necessity of a driver’s life and yet, so many people can not seem to figure this out. There is a very simple rule that has served me well since I was 15 years of age and in Driver’s Ed. The coach told us it’s a 75/25 rule: back out straight three-quarters of the way before you begin turning your wheels. You will not scrape the cars on either side of you if you stick to this rule of thumb. And it really works! I frequently see people in my office parking lot turn their wheels the moment they’ve hit reverse and I’m amazed more cars aren’t stripped lengthwise of their paint. I cringe every single time.

I could probably go on for longer than most people would prefer with driving safety tips so I’m going to leave you with the one tip for today and hope it changes your life or someone else’s you may know.

Because if you are anything like this other woman below (who requires the help of yet another woman guiding her), you need to re-evaluate whether you should be driving, stat:


  1. That last video was painful to watch! I wanted to ram on the gas for her, and help her turn the wheel! Wow.

    I have had a few driving mishaps of my own, but thankfully none of them have made it on tape! 😉 LOL

    • I know, I keep wondering how these got caught on camera! I was audibly saying out loud, “Turn your wheel! No, don’t brake, turn!” Another friend said she couldn’t even watch the whole thing.

  2. Kevin Schneider says:

    You haven’t been a licensed driver for over half of your existence!

  3. critters and crayons says:

    Haha! This is the first time I’ve heard someone talk about speeding mini-vans! I guess it’s true, though- she was probably trying to get to school or soccer on time! 🙂 It wasn’t me!

    • Well it was a man, for one, and number two, though I know there are plenty of good and nice people out there who own minivans and probably obey all the traffic rules, I have a personal *thing* with minivan drivers, because they are frequently the ones who are violating traffic laws left and right. My thing against minivans is a source of contention between me and my boyfriend, since he wants to own one someday. (Shudder.)

  4. Wow. That last video was horrible. I cringed the entire time. I agree – how do people like that have a license?!?!


  5. Coming from a place where parallel parking is a MUST and is usually the make or break reason for you passing or failing your road test. I don’t know what it’s like anymore, but when I went for my driving test, you had to parallel park within less then one foot of the curb, without hitting it, and with only three moves; back in, forward to straighten out, and back up to be centered in your spot. No more. No less. THANKFULLY, by the grace of god, I parked the best park of my LIFE that day. Therefore, when I see people trying to pass double parked cars, trying to pull into parking spots (or pulling out of them!) or anything that involves a more intensive understanding of perception of your vehicle than driving forward on a wide open road, it FATHOMS me at the things I see. One would think that driving in a city such as NYC, you’d gain quite an extra edge on your perception from the driver’s seat. Alas, this is not the case. I think there are three classes of drivers – wait – make that four. Ones who shouldn’t have a license at all yet terrorize the road, ones who have a license, can’t drive for shit and think they’re awesome drivers, and ones who would normally know how to drive well but put their balls on the steering wheel (if ya know what I mean!)

    And sorry to be agist (especially now that NY state allows you to “self-certify” your ability to see well enough to drive), I feel that re-testing should be mandatory once you hit a certain age. There are so many drivers who were once fine, until time went against them.

    • My goodness…I should not type when it’s this early. My grammar and spelling mistakes within the first two lines is making me almost seizure-prone. AGH!!!

      • Hahaha no worries at all! I agree that people should be re-tested after a certain age. I have had several senior citizens not pay any attention to the flow of traffic and if I weren’t alert and driving defensively, would have had accidents.

        Parallel parking is definitely a difficulty and one I am not a supreme master of – I can do it but it’s not my driving strength. Regular parking I’m A-OK. I do agree that living in a large city, you have to have that skill. Good on you for acing that maneuver on your test!

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