Best driver's education video we can watch online?
August 25, 2011 12:03 PM   Subscribe

1. Best driver's education video we can watch online? 2. In one sentence - single most important thing you learned in driver education class?

I need videos I can force my kids to watch online. English preferred but I really want the best so if in another language, that's OK.

And I'm also interested in hearing if you had some really great driving advice that has served you well over the years. In one sentence, please, for the attention impaired.
posted by cda to Travel & Transportation (59 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Assume, by default, that all pedestrians are suicidal and all other drivers are homicidal.
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:07 PM on August 25, 2011 [14 favorites]

Always know what's happening way down the road, instead of staying focused on the car ahead of you.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 12:08 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

My dad made me practice in parking lots for like six months before I was allowed to hit the road... best advice out of the lots and lots and lots and LOTS that I received? "Know what is on all four sides of your car at all times - keep your eyes moving... front, side mirrors, rearview mirror, the wheels of ostensibly 'stopped' cars you're passing, etc."
posted by julthumbscrew at 12:11 PM on August 25, 2011

A huge part of driving is certainly being a good driver yourself, but the rest of it is protecting you and your car from being destroyed by the other people in the world who are not as good at driving as you are. Always, always, always be a defensive driver.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 12:12 PM on August 25, 2011

Don't worry about the car behind you, worry about the car in front. That was said by my uncle when he was teaching me to drive, and the person behind was tailgating me because I was going too slow for them.
posted by katypickle at 12:14 PM on August 25, 2011

2. When stopped behind someone, leave enough room to get around them without using reverse.

(Or, for less advanced drivers: you don't need to spend all your time pressing the gas and/or the brake. Lots of the time, you can just coast.)
posted by box at 12:15 PM on August 25, 2011

Sounds like common sense, but when the car in front of you starts braking, you should probably start braking too.

Always check your blind spots. Mirrors lie.

The radio is not vital to the driving experience. Until I got very comfortable driving, I drove in silence.
posted by litnerd at 12:16 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

For #1, the best video I saw was a "real time" showing of driving conditions and possible situations. Things like nighttime visibility with headlights and reflective surfaces, changing lanes in traffic. It didn't look over-produced, so at the very least it felt like it would be somewhat realistic to what I could expect on the road. Unfortunately I can't find it online (it was a long time ago), but I was at the local YMCA when I saw it.

For #2: In one sentence, please, for the attention impaired.

Pay attention.
posted by CancerMan at 12:20 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

They don't want to get in an accident either and are probably not actually swerving at you. So don't panic.
posted by motsque at 12:20 PM on August 25, 2011

You never have the right of way unless the other drivers give it to you. Translation: If you go when you have right-of-way and someone hits you, yeah they're wrong, but you're still the one with the smashed-up car. So don't assume that people will stop just because they should.


Always leave yourself an out. Translation: Know where the other cars are, where barriers are, where you can go if something in front of/beside you goes wrong.
posted by specialagentwebb at 12:21 PM on August 25, 2011

Forty-five years ago our teacher made us clip accident reports from the newspaper and write a paragraph or two on how the accident could have been prevented.
posted by mareli at 12:22 PM on August 25, 2011

Always check your blind spots.

(It's by far the most important thing once you've mastered the "how to drive" part of driving. It's practically Murphy's Law... if you change lanes without looking, there's always someone there.)
posted by smitt at 12:22 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Never insist on your right of way.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:23 PM on August 25, 2011

MIST: Mirror, Indicate, SHOULDER CHECK, Turn (or C - Change Lanes) -- always always always.

And superman parking for parallel parking on a hill: Up up and away! (the direction of your tires).

And from my dad: never trust that anyone driving a courtesy car is a good driver; they are in that car for a reason.
posted by urbanlenny at 12:29 PM on August 25, 2011

No recommendations for videos, but the best advice I ever got for driving actually came from a VHS video our driving instructor showed us. It was done by some race-car driver, who drove down the road with the camera in the car, showing what he saw. But it was the voiceover that really caught me: "kid over there, might run out on the road. Eyes back on the road. Dog chasing after ball. Eyes back on the road. Car turning out of that driveway. Eyes back on the road..." and on and on. It really drove the point home that you have to strike a balance between being aware of what's going on right in front of you, and what's going on around you. The difference, in other words, between immediate hazards and potential hazards.
posted by LN at 12:33 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

My best driving advice came from AJ, as I was laying on the brakes approaching a stop light that was at the bottom of a hill. He asked me, calmly, what I was doing. "Braking, duh." He just as calmly pointed out that I maybe wouldn't need to be as aggressive with the brakes if I would be a little easier on the gas.

This short, simple conversation (however inaccurately I may remember it 8 years later) taught me that I could 1. always be aware that the light ahead of me may change to yellow. 2. moderate my city driving speed. 3. Be courteous to my passengers.

As a driver, my job is not only to keep them safe, but also comfortable.

Also, I really like knowing how to chauffeur stop, and as the writer of this brief article points out, all of the skills of approaching an intersection that play into that will keep you in good stead.

I like this: And from my dad: never trust that anyone driving a courtesy car is a good driver; they are in that car for a reason. But it doesn't matter who is a good driver. If they have a heart attack behind the wheel, get rear ended themselves, have a lapse in judgement, you are better off if you are alert and prepared. Bad drivers get lucky very often. Good drivers get unlucky.
posted by bilabial at 12:34 PM on August 25, 2011

2. Distraction kills.
2. Don't drive if you can't.
2. "Wear your fucking seatbelt!" (Yes, that's a literal quote from my Driver's Ed. instructor. He was also the football coach, so when he yelled this in class we all payed attention.)
2. Signal, mirror, blindspot. All three, every time.
2. Stop...two...three...go.
2. Driving is not a game.
2. Don't be stupid.
2. There are only two kinds of drivers: Those who have been in an accident, and those who will be in an accident.
posted by Revvy at 12:47 PM on August 25, 2011

Always wear your seat belt.

My mother taught me to always buckle up before I even turned on the car. You can be the best driver in the world, but you can never stop other people from being dangerous. At least with a seat belt, you increase your chances of walking away.
posted by fuzzysoft at 12:47 PM on August 25, 2011

Perhaps the most memorable lesson I got from driver's ed was the IPDE process (Identify, Predict, Decide, Execute), which probably has guided my everyday practical logic even more so.

Also, as a bicycle rider, I'd just harp on that cars are bigger than bikes and bikes bigger than pedestrians, and people should be nice to each other accordingly.
posted by General Malaise at 12:48 PM on August 25, 2011

Vehicles with obvious dents are usually driven by bad drivers, keep a good distance from them and don't park near them, especially the ones with multiple or rusty dents.
posted by meepmeow at 12:50 PM on August 25, 2011

During the actual driving examination, obey the very letter of the law even if doing so is stupid/dangerous.

Learned that one the hard way; failed my first exam by not getting into an accident.
posted by porpoise at 12:51 PM on August 25, 2011

Be patient.
posted by Nathanial Hörnblowér at 12:56 PM on August 25, 2011

Honestly the best driving advice I can give you isn't about tactics (do this, don't do that, look here, don't forget that, brake softly, whatever), it's about strategy. And the strategy is this: driving is a game you "win" when you go from point A to point B without inconveniencing or irritating anyone, including yourself. Be a "fish" that swims into traffic without disturbing the other fish and then swims out again at your destination with no one ever having really had to pay real attention to you.

So: be smooth (no sudden starts, turns or stops), be considerate (signal your attentions, allow people to merge, flow well with traffic), be responsive (deftly handle emergencies and inept drivers, always leave room to react), be decisive (don't dawdle or dally, make your intentions known).
posted by seanmpuckett at 12:57 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Two points. One, you have a horn for a reason. Do not be afraid to use it to warn others of your existence. Two, watch the front wheels of cars around you. They cannot turn without them.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:25 PM on August 25, 2011

Respect and understand the physics involved. Once you appreciate the mass, momentum and sheer kinetic energy you are playing with you'll want to leave more space, brake sooner and generally behave as if you are piloting a dangerous vehicle. Because you are.
posted by BrooksCooper at 1:37 PM on August 25, 2011

2. It's better to turn around later than be stupid right now.

2. Everyone else on the road is insane until proven otherwise.

2. Never hope the other guy will stop.
posted by SMPA at 1:39 PM on August 25, 2011

Best advice received involved Parallel-Parking 101:

Position the middle of your car parallel to the end of the car behind which you want to park. Commence with backup and turn.


It's not a race.

Put the phone down and drive.

If you plan to drink, plan to have someone else drive you home.
posted by Leezie at 2:06 PM on August 25, 2011

Response by poster: All responses are greatly appreciated! Keep em coming. I want to pick one or two that I will repeat to them the rest of their lives.
posted by cda at 2:09 PM on August 25, 2011

Seconding 'distraction kills' times one thousand.

If I had kids I would show them this graphic PSA from Great Britain. Link to Youtube video for the PSA. Warning: this is GRAPHIC and disturbing, but I believe that it could be one of the most effective PSAs I have ever seen. It addresses distracted driving.

The other best PSA ever on driving that I've seen is the Australian PSA "Everybody Hurts". Link to Youtube video - again, this is graphic and disturbing, and could even make you cry, it certainly did for me! But I can hardly think of any way to drive the message home better about not driving after drinking.

Other countries do a much better job with PSAs because they aren't afraid to show teenagers what can happen to them if they make mistakes while driving. I am an emergency department doctor and I have seen what can happen. It's beyond heartbreaking. Get serious with your kids.

The best verbal advice I've gotten: during bad weather, stay as far away from all other cars on the road as possible - assume no one else on the road knows how to drive in snow/sleet/ice/rain, because they usually don't, and dangerous things will happen.

If you pass by something distracting, like an accident, or a construction site, or whatever, register that it is there, but do not actually allow yourself to rubberneck/look at it and be distracted by it - a frequent cause of rear-ending accidents is distraction while looking at something on the roadside, including another accident!

I've noticed in terms of the patients that come in to the ER that another time people tend to get into a lot of accidents (although not usually high speed ones) is when a car is stopped and waiting to turn with their turn signal on, and the cars behind it decide to go around its side, and the oncoming cars are not expecting this. Always beware of cars coming around from behind a turning, stopped car - a turning stopped car does not guarantee that other traffic is going to stop behind it. Hope that description made sense. Good luck with teaching your kids to be safe drivers!
posted by treehorn+bunny at 2:10 PM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]

p.s. another way to word the advice about distracted driving would be to say "It doesn't matter if a cold drink is spilling into your lap, or your phone is ringing, or a spider is crawling on your leg, or [insert teen idol here] is passing by on the roadside - NOTHING is more important than paying attention to the road and ensuring that you are safe. Pull over if something distracting is happening, and then sort it out - don't try to sort it out in motion."
posted by treehorn+bunny at 2:14 PM on August 25, 2011

Mirror, signal, headcheck is the one thing that has stuck with me in the most explicit form from driver's ed.

There are no accidents, only crashes.

I also definitely use driver's ed advice for parallel parking, but that's hard to reduce to a sentence.
posted by thirteenkiller at 2:29 PM on August 25, 2011

We learned IPDE too, and as much as I rolled my eyes at the time, it is a very empowering strategy that has probably been good for my driving.
posted by thirteenkiller at 2:32 PM on August 25, 2011

Assume that people are stupid and not paying attention, including yourself. Sage advice from Dad.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 2:57 PM on August 25, 2011

As far as videos:

1. This one covers only one aspect of driving, but an important one and one that many young drivers haven't even thought about:

2. The California DMV has a lot of videos on YouTube that look quite interesting. For instance, the top 10 reasons for failing the driving test might appeal to your young driver, and another series goes through the rules of the road in a step-by-step way. This isn't the most thrilling subject matter, but the type of thing every driver needs to know forward & backward:

The reason teens are, on average, far more prone to automobile collisions than older adults is not so much that they aren't capable of learning the rules of the road (they are quite capable of that, and of course must do so) but more a complex mix of emotion, attitude, and overestimating their own abilities that means that they quite often don't do what they perfectly well know they should. This Powerpoint presentation explains the issues well.

Something like this training course for young drivers, which addresses some of those issues directly, would be an excellent addition to the standard driver's ed course.
posted by flug at 2:59 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Here's tons of video for you: California DMV YouTube channel.

My advice:
(a) Do not expect that your child will know how to drive because s/he has "watched" you do it. Or that they know because they play video games.
(c) Do not sign up to take the driving test until you are completely calm and chill behind the wheel on a regular basis first. I know you're likely to be nervous and jittery on the day of, but I had it pointed out to me after flunking test #1 (and a few other folks confirmed they'd had similar experiences) that if you are super nervous, the examiner will be looking for a way to flunk you faster because they are also judging how calm you are behind the wheel.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:59 PM on August 25, 2011

When you stop at a red light, make sure you can see a little bit of pavement below the car ahead of you. That way, if someone were to rear-end you, you won't automatically smash into the car in front of you too.
posted by capnsue at 2:59 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, and (d) don't wait until the kids are legal to teach them to drive. It's the people who have been driving with their parents in the country when they were 8 years old or something that are good at driving. My parents, on the other hand, waited until I was 16 and I didn't really drive until the lesson with the instructor started. Most people apparently DO teach their kids before they've paid for the legal lessons, so my instructor was totally surprised/horrified that I didn't even know how to turn on the ignition. Six hours of screaming and teacher brake hitting ensued, and then I didn't get my license for another 16 years.

Don't do that. Start them out GENTLE in a parking lot, not with a stranger at driving school. Also, if you are a natural screamer when you are teaching someone, don't teach.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:01 PM on August 25, 2011

Frequently look as far down the road as you can, rather than stare at the rear of the car in front of you. This is really important for noticing things in your peripheral vision, spotting problems ahead in time to react, and for driving, braking, merging, and turning smoothly.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:13 PM on August 25, 2011

"The other drivers will do their best not to hit you." -- My dad.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:16 PM on August 25, 2011

1. Safe following distance is longer than you think [or that other people observe] but it's still safe following distance
2. Trucks stop slower than cars [useful if one is behind you]. Motorcycles stop faster than cars [useful if one is ahead of you]
3. Seatbelts are not optional for you or your passengers.
4. Sometimes other people are in the wrong in a traffic situation but if your goal is to avoid accidents, you need to just let them be wrong
5. Be mindful of road conditions [wet, too bright sun, snow] and driver conditions [late = tired & maybe drunk, just after school = lots of young/inexperienced drivers] and your own conditions [HALT = hungry, angry, lonely, tired; can make you less adept at driving]
6. Understand what driving while impaired is and how to avoid it. As a parent "I will always give you a ride, no questions asked, if you or your ride has been drinking" saves lives.
7. People driving rental trucks [i.e. U-Haul and the like] likely do not know how to drive it well, give them a wide berth
8. The blind spot is real. Respect the blindspot.
9. If you are finding yourself "having" to speed to get to your destination, you have a lifestyle problem, not a driving problem.
posted by jessamyn at 3:16 PM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]

Assume that every other driver on the road is amazing incompetent and drive to protect yourself.
posted by Fister Roboto at 3:33 PM on August 25, 2011

Sorry, I don't know of any videos but...driving advice:

Never be afraid of the other cars around you. (My dad said this on the 2nd day after I got a learner's permit and he took me to drive 60+ on small country highways in Texas...)

Make up your mind quickly: if you want to change lanes, change.

You never see a car in the hospital, do you?
posted by astapasta24 at 3:50 PM on August 25, 2011

The most important thing I ever learned in Driver Education class: taking Driver Education classes is no substitute for practice, patience and common sense.

The most important thing I ever learned about driving that can be easily written down: when waiting to make a left turn, keep your wheels straight, so that if you get rear-ended you roll forward instead of getting pushed into oncoming traffic.

The most important thing I ever realized about driving: we live in a first-world country where things like starvation and animal attack are relatively rare, which makes death-by-car (in some fashion) the most dangerous thing you will likely do on any given day by far, and that kind of risk is worth a lot of care and respect.

The most important thing I ever decided about learning to drive: we would all be better off if we learned to drive on a racetrack first (so that we can learn how to drive the car confidently) before driving on the street (so that we can learn how to pay attention to traffic signals, pedestrians, other drivers, etc.)

If you really want to learn, and learn well, and learn safely: go take a course on a racetrack somewhere before you ever roll on the street.
posted by davejay at 3:53 PM on August 25, 2011

Re 2: The simple concept that your tires have a set amount of "grip", and you may need all of that grip for successfully turning, OR for slowing down OR for speeding up, so if you do two of those at the same time (brake while cornering) you risk running out of grip and going sliding off the road.

(I was instructed to brake before cornering but had no idea why. Learning the simple physics connected the dots and I think it made me less disconnected from the realities underpinning automobile operation.)

Another important concept for me was that even if what you're doing is 99% safe - ie almost inconceivable that anything could go wrong - if you do something like that every day you'll be dead inside three months. Don't ever take risks you don't absolutely have to.

It's easy to drive crazy and fun, but it's difficult and requires a lot of skill to drive safely. The real challenge, the real test of how awesome you are, is how well you can avoid danger, and the ultimate challenge is to become the kind of badass that can see into the future and avoid dangerous situations before they even occur, before average drivers are even aware of what might be about to happen.
posted by -harlequin- at 3:53 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I can appreciate this thread a lot as I'm currently teaching my wife to drive. My top two:

1) Other drivers suck.
2) Try to make sure your actions are clear to other people.
posted by Nackt at 4:29 PM on August 25, 2011

"Where is the danger?"

My dad would ask me variations of this every couple of minutes when he was teaching me to drive. And I would say, oh, that driveway on the right with poor visibility, someone could come out of that. Or that car coming to this four-way stop, he could blow through it. Or that car in front could merge into this lane, since I'm in his blind spot.

This exercise helped me develop an awareness of where potential danger lurked; it's a good habit that has made me a safer driver. I recommend it.
posted by kprincehouse at 4:56 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

Try to drive so that no other cars have to slow down (or worse, stop) to accomodate your movements. This is useful to think of when pulling out into traffic or such. If you make it hard on other drivers to avoid you, you increase the risk.

Treat all pedestrians and bicyclists as though they are all in a conspiracy to make you accidentally kill them. That bicyclist riding on the sidewalk? He's about to swerve right in front of you, AFTER looking and seeing that you're right there. This happened to me not long ago. Luckily when I just reacted (not thinking, my arms just turned the wheel, there was *no* time to think) and swerved around him, there happened to be nobody in the other lane. But that was just luck. Never trust them to stay on the sidewalk. Also assume that bicyclists will never obey red lights or stop signs. There are a lot of bicyclists where I live, and I just wait at the stop sign until they go. The freak bicyclists who *do* obey the stop signs kind of throw me off my game a little (they must be new, or have a sense of their own mortality).

Also: when driving on a road with a bike lane, note upcoming puddles in the bike lane! The bicyclist will swerve into your lane without warning to avoid a puddle (or obstruction or dead animal or stick or pretty much anything). They won't even look. Always be ready.

Never text, unless you are parked. Do not use your phone at all while driving until you are a well-seasoned driver, like maybe after five years. If it rings, just pull over and park and answer it. You should definitely not be making any calls unless you are parked.
posted by marble at 7:26 PM on August 25, 2011

One other thing: just let buses and semis change lanes into your lane. Don't fight it, don't try to race the bus, it will just make you nervous anyway. The guy is just trying to do his job, he's not out to piss you off. Be the nice person who makes his life a little easier when he absolutely has to make a lane change somewhere.
posted by marble at 7:29 PM on August 25, 2011

The best driving advice I ever received was from a co-worker who allowed me to merge in front of her on the way to work. When I thanked her at the office, her response was, "No problem. Sometimes turn signals are requests, sometimes they are warnings. I don't presume to know which is which."
posted by Graygorey at 8:08 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Always have an escape plan.
Speeding, at best, will get you there about a minute or two faster (you can do the math), and be incredibly dangerous.
Force = mass x acceleration
posted by Gilbert at 8:14 PM on August 25, 2011

The big thing that stood out to me from my drivers ed handbook (Victoria, Australia) is that when you are learning* to drive is that you will feel like a better driver and be more confident as you get your car control down- but there is still a heap to learn about safe driving in traffic, so be mindful of that.

Overconfidence kills.

Here are some practice driving tests (both learner permit and 3D simulation) from Vicroads, the roads organization here in Victoria.

However bear in mind that we're drive on the left here, which may not apply to you.

* a three year process usually- get your permit when you are 16 or above, must get 120 hours of experience supervised at all times, including 10 hours in the wet and 10 hours at night (minimum) (you also have yellow L on your car) and can go for your provisional license when you are 18. Then, you have 1 year where you can drive unsupervised, but must have a blood alcohol of 0.0, and only 1 passenger between the ages of 16 and 25 (unless supervised by a mature driver). You must also flag your car with a red 'P' Then you get 3 years of 'green Ps' (provisional license) same sort of deal, except for the passenger bit, and if you get through all that without driving infractions, you get automatically rolled onto your full license.
posted by titanium_geek at 8:51 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

The car will go where your eyes go. So if you look over into the field to watch the cows, you're going to be turning the wheel that way and you'll start swerving over. You need to keep control over your attention.

At night, if you're trying to follow the yellow center line, you can sometimes blind yourself by looking at the opposing traffic's headlights. Follow the white line on the outside of your lane, away from the opposing traffic.

Recognize that semi trucks (etc) are WAY heavier than you and take a lot longer to do things, and have big blind spots. Respect them. Eg, don't pass them and then slow down.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:44 PM on August 25, 2011

What others have said, from my recently qualified (here in the UK) perspective:

Every other driver is out to get you.

All pedestrians and cyclists are suicidal.

Know your braking distances, never get too close. Those multiple pile-ups you hear about? 99% of those are caused by the rest of the accidentees following the one (or two) vehicles that have had the actual accident too closely.

Total all round perception.

Drive to the conditions, that speed limit is not a target, it's a guideline.

When in tight or potentially dangerous situations (car parks, vehicles parked both sides of the road, passing on narrow country roads) a) know the dimensions of your car b) slow down! c) if necessary stop, it's far easier with only one vehicle in motion
posted by hardcode at 1:59 AM on August 26, 2011

"The only thing a turn signal means is that it works."
- my driving instructor
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:43 AM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I'm still watching this thread. Please keep them coming.
posted by cda at 8:52 AM on August 26, 2011

I always wear my seatbelt anyway, but one thing that's really stuck with me from a driving class was a video in which a highway patrol officer said he'd never unbuckled a dead man from a car.
posted by cp311 at 12:04 PM on August 26, 2011

Some (most?) rear-view mirrors have a small toggle on the underside, flick this for night view and you won't be blinded by the cars behind you at night or by drivers who mistakenly leave their headlights on.

My mind was *blown* when I figured this out accidentally a few weeks ago.
posted by lioness at 2:43 PM on August 26, 2011

(lioness I hope you mean highbeams, not headlights! - unless talking about day time driving. )

I found this gem from the 1930s and thought of this thread, and thought I'd pop back in and share. :)

How Good a Driver are You? (October 1932)

It's a bit different these days, but it is good at discussing bad driving and the habits that lead to accidents, without a lot of extra guff. Also a fun look into 1930s driving.
posted by titanium_geek at 12:02 AM on August 28, 2011

titanium_geek: Highbeams indeed!
posted by lioness at 5:07 AM on September 2, 2011

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