Caution: New Student Driver

BY: Bridget Guinee, Kyle Killen, and Alex Gentile 

On a teenagers’ 16th birthday, rather than a gift card or a video game, what every teenager really wants is their driver’s license. After taking and passing the driver’s permit test, they are dying to start up the car and get on the road. Many students here at Seton-La Salle have taken their drivers tests and have passed.

However, many students have also failed their drivers tests as well. Regardless of whether they passed or failed, we have interviewed 11 people and got their stories from behind the wheel and their tips on how to pass the driver’s test on the first try.

After earning a driver’s permit, a new driver has a few options on how to learn to drive. Evan Rega, ‘20, and Hannah Warner, ‘19, both took driver’s ed with Mr. Rutter and felt prepared for their test after completing a driving course and numerous test drives around the nearby neighborhoods.

Mr. Rutter has since ended teaching driver’s ed, and declined an interview about different driving tactics. When asked about past driver’s ed classes he said, “I do not teach drivers ed anymore. It’s over.”

However, The Kennedy School of Driving, through which Mr. Rutter worked, is still an available option for new drivers. Bridget Guinee, ‘19, took driving lessons with another driving teacher from The Kennedy School and likewise felt ready for her test. Alex Gentile, a senior, did not take a driving class at all and still passed his driver’s test after three failed attempts.

The two most popular DMV’s, Department of Motor Vehicles, that students took their drivers exams through are in Bridgeville and Washington. If neither of these locations are near you, there are other options, Molly Long, ‘20, took one of her tests at the DMV in Beaver and the other in North Hills. Mrs. D’Amico, a freshman and sophomore English teacher, took her driver’s test in Washington because “they’re much easier.” However, just because this location has a reputation of passing more drivers than the Bridgeville location does not mean a new driver is guaranteed to pass there. On the other hand, of the interviewed students who took their tests at the Bridgeville location all failed at least one attempt.

Xavier Huetter, ‘19, took his test twice in Washington, failing on the first attempt for forgetting to release his emergency brake when parallel parking. “My instructor put on my emergency brake when I was pulling out to go to the parallel parking spot. When I finished parallel parking, I realized it was still on. When I asked [the instructor] if he meant to have it on, he said it was up to me since I was the driver, and proceeded to fail me for it later.”

Jake Carrier, ‘19, had a similar experience at Washington, failing for not knowing where the emergency brake was located in the car. “I was driving my grandpa’s Mercedes-Benz, which is an automatic already. [The instructor] asked me to turn on my emergency brake, and automatics don’t really need emergency brakes because it already comes installed. I tried explaining that to her, but she told me I should know where that is on every car. So, I spent the next ten minutes searching for the brake.”

One of the most important things (and most suggested by the interviewees) to remember when taking your driver’s test is to pay attention to the speed limits. Jacob Horton, a junior, failed one of his driver’s tests in Washington by going only 5 mph over the speed limit. Hannah Warner, ‘19, offered a helpful tip for being mindful of your speed on a highway. “When [signs] say ‘30 mph,’ they’re not kidding. There’s a turn coming up that you just don’t see yet.”

When preparing for your driver’s test, the two most suggested things to practice were parallel parking and speed control. If you fail the parallel parking section of the test, it is an instant fail, so getting comfortable parallel parking is very important. And maintaining the speed limit is also a very important part in passing the drivers test. As Horton knows first hand, even going 5 miles over the speed limit will result in a failed driver’s test. If you follow all of the tips and learn from the stories of others, you will pass your driver’s test with flying colors!

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