When obtaining a driver’s license for the first time, it is mandatory to showcase your understanding of driving laws and regulations in Canada. The only way to prove that you know all traffic rules is to pass a road test conducted at a DriveTest Centre. The requirements for obtaining a driver’s license differ from one province to the other. So, how do you prepare for a driving test and improve your chances of passing?
In a driving test, the examiner observes how you drive on a designated route they have chosen for you. There are specific skills they will be looking for to see whether you’re complying with safety regulations. They are the same techniques you’d learnt from a driving school. You can start by learning what to expect in the exam. The following practical tips will help you ace your first-time driving test.
Vehicle Condition and Controls
Remember the vehicle control skills you acquired in your driving lessons? You must demonstrate them throughout the driving test. Show how well you can control a vehicle while starting, steering, signaling, shifting, turning, backing, and stopping. In other words, how well do you understand the functioning of the basic features of the car? Some of the skills and techniques you’ll be examined for include:
• How to locate and use the ignition and windshield wipers
• Smooth steering and movement
• Smooth acceleration depending on traffic, road conditions, and weather
• Defogging the windshield and windows on a misty day
• Keeping hands in the correct position on the wheel- i.e. 9 and 3 o’clock positions
• The use of signal light when taking a left or right turn, changing lanes, or driving off the curb
• Ability to press brakes at proper time and stop smoothly at the appropriate location
• Shoulder checking to change lanes in a safe manner
• Safe reversing after scanning your surroundings
• Giving right of way to oncoming traffic and pedestrians as expected
• Maintaining the space cushion
Observing Traffic Control Signals
Traffic lights and signs help to control vehicular movement where roads intersect or merge. The lights change colours to dictate what stream of traffic has the right-of-way hence eliminating possible conflicts. Traffic control signals are usually horizontal or vertical. The red light sits at the top in a vertical control signal, yellow occupies the centre, and the green light is at the bottom. Horizontal traffic lights take this order: green on the right side, yellow in the middle, and red on the right side. The most important thing is to know what the signs mean and respond to them promptly.
• Flashing red light: Make a complete stop, proceed when safe
• Flashing yellow light: Proceed with caution as other vehicles and pedestrians may be passing
• Flashing green light: Go through without stopping
Staying alert at the road intersection is paramount, and you should know what signal is coming next.
Obeying Speed Limits
Speed limits are the maximum permitted speeds in ideal road conditions. You will be at fault if you drive at any speed considered unsafe for the prevailing situation. A few tips should help during your Alberta road test.
• Unless posted otherwise, observe a speed limit of 50km/h on urban roadways and 80 km/h outside the city or town. You are allowed to drive at 100km/h on provincial highways away from the urban areas.
• Slow down to 30 km/h in areas marked school and playground zones. Speed limits for school zones are in effect during school days. Playground speed limits apply every day from 8:30am to 1 hour after sunset.
• If your slow driving affects cars behind you, the examiner will assign you a fail.
• Adjust the speed according to weather and traffic and road conditions. Do not be too fast or too slow, no matter the circumstances.
While a small margin of error is allowed, keeping your driving speed slightly below the maximum limit and not above is better.
Driving at the Intersection Points
Whether you want to turn right or left, you have to enter and exit the intersection.
1. To make a right turn, take the closest lane to the curb.
2. For a left turn, drive through the first available lane.
3. Suppose there’s an obstruction or a vehicle parked within 100 feet on the road, take a direct turn using the second lane but check what’s happening down the road before maneuvering. Unless the traffic sign indicates otherwise, there will be a crosswalk at an intersection, whether marked or not.
You need to be aware of all pavement markings and adhere to them. Keep the following points in mind.
• In the absence of a marked crosswalk, stop within 10 feet of an intersecting road
• Maintain wheels at a straight angle as you wait to turn left
• Do not make unnecessary stops or slow down if you have the right-of-way at the intersection
• Yield the right of way to drivers on the right side at uncontrolled intersections without traffic signs
Remember that aggressiveness increases the chances of a collision, while being paranoid affects other road users behind you. Avoid these two errors and show the examiner that your driving judgement is worth passing a road test.
Whether marked or not, traffic lanes are designed to accommodate vehicular traffic. Veering off the right lane makes you lose some points. Busy roads feature pavement markings to indicate lanes in the opposite or same direction. However, rural roads and residential streets have what we call unmarked lanes. When driving in such places, you’ll notice several lanes in every direction of a wide road. A test for lane driving analyses how well you can change position. A few hacks could help.
• Only switch to another lane when space allows
• Do not drive in the centre of a residential or unmarked road
• Maintain a distance between your car and other road users
• When turning right, look over the right shoulder before moving into the curb lane in an unmarked roadway
Safe parking is guided by good steering, accurate judgement, and proper control of the car. After learning these skills in Edge Driving school, it’s time to put them to the test. You are expected to do parallel parking and hill parking. In parallel parking, you position the car beside another vehicle. You should also be able to park correctly behind another car. Ensure the tires should be 50cm from the curb; otherwise, you will have to retake your test. If you cannot successfully perform the expected maneuvers in three trials, you will fail the test. The examiner may allow a single pull-head to rectify the position during each attempt. Behold a few points to observe.
• Ensure smooth maneuvers
• Use mirrors to look around and behind when backing
• Never let the tires climb over the curb or hit it
• You are not allowed to use a parking aid
Knowledge of the Right-of-way
Collisions usually happen at junctions. A driving test looks into how well you understand who has the right to move first. At a crosswalk, you’re expected to give pedestrians enough room to pass. Most drivers, when granting the right-of-way, wave to let you proceed. However, you should drive cautiously while observing other road users. Beware of three things if you want to pass this test:
• You have the right-of-way only when it is safe, even when taking a right turn at a red traffic light
• You don’t need to stop for jaywalkers unless and until they step on the road
• Watch out for pedestrians when approaching a crosswalk and slow down
Summed Up Reasons for Failing a Road Test
The following scenarios will count as an automatic fail for a driving test.
• Dangerous driving: Exceeding the maximum speed limit, staying on the wrong side
• Collision with another car or object
• Careless obstruction of traffic
• Attaining too many points: Over 75 points for class 5 road test and over 50 points for class 4 driving test
• Not giving other road users right-of-way when needed
• Violating stop signs and traffic lights: Not stopping at red or yellow when required to do so
• Climbing over the curb
• Staying in the middle of a marked lane for long
• Driving at an extremely slow speed
• Inability to park correctly after three attempts
• Inadequate control skills, e.g. steering and shifting gears
Use the above guidelines to understand what driver examiners look for. Consider each point as a checklist for passing a road test. Remember that for every error you commit, you lose a point. Some mistakes are more than one point, and the examiner can note them down three times during your test. You can always ask for clarifications before the trial begins. Note that the examiner will not help you pass. Their job is to observe you and give a report at the end of the day. You will know you are about to fail if your examiner intervenes during a test. Lastly, familiarize yourself with driving practices related to safe road operations and licensing.