The New Driver Safety Quiz

By: Deborah Beckwin
Image: NPHOTOS / Moment / Getty Images

About This Quiz

As the song goes, life is a highway, and most of us are in our cars for a big chunk of our lives. For example, according to the Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration, Americans drove more than 3.22 trillion miles in 2016.

According to the Office of Highway Policy Information, as of 2009, 87 percent of American drivers who could get a driver's license have one—over 210 million people! That's a lot of people sharing the millions of miles of roadways that cover the U.S. There are also a lot more drivers on the road than there used to be: in 1970, there were only 112 million drivers.

So with all those drivers out there, safety as a new driver is of utmost importance. We're in our cars more often, which means we may be tempted to do other things while driving. It also increases the chance of being involved in a car crash due to increased exposure. 

If you just got your driver's license, you probably know what a broken white line on the road indicates versus a solid double yellow line. But do you know how far your steering wheel should be from your body? Or where you should put your hands on the steering wheel? Both of those questions have to do with how cars have changed in the past three decades.

So what do you say, newly minted driver? Can you handle the curves of this quiz about new-driver safety? Buckle up, because you're in for a fascinating ride! Safe travels!

What does GDL stand for?

The GDL is a system being implemented in more states across the U.S., which has helped to reduce teen-driver accidents up to 30 percent. Before, getting your driver's' license was a two-step process: usually you got your learner's permit at age 15 and your driver's license at age 16. In most states, the GDL means there's an extra step, where you can drive on your own but only in limited circumstances.

What percentage of accidents are caused by distracted driving?

Studies have shown that within three seconds before the collision or near collision, 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near crashes were due to a driver being distracted.

What is the legal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit for drivers who are younger than 21 years old?

It doesn't matter if you're 16 or even 20 years old—in most states, it is illegal for people under 21 to be drinking at all. So the BAC should be 0.00 percent.

What is the top cause for accidents among teen drivers?

For teen drivers, the number-one reason they're involved in accidents is just lack of experience. As a new driver, you're more likely to be distracted and to do risky things behind the wheel. Graduated Driver's Licenses (GDLs) help to reduce this experience gap by giving teens and new drivers more supervised experience before they receive full driving privileges.

When is the right time to use a phone while driving?

It's not just handling a phone that is distracting—it's also talking on the phone. No matter how you talk on the phone, you're more likely to be involved in an accident if you do. Turn your phone off or only use it when the car is parked.

When should you use your high beams?

High beams can show you up to 400 feet ahead of you (twice as far as you would be able to see with low beams), which is about a city block long. Usually, you'll need your high beams on when driving in darker situations such as in rural areas or at least outside of the city. Make sure the turn your high beams down when you encounter oncoming traffic so you don't blind other motorists.

When should you indicate that you're going to take a turn?

Here's one easy way to remember when to put on your indicator: if you see a sign that tells you're approaching an intersection, that's usually about 100 feet away. Using your signal as you're turning is far too late.

Which emergency vehicles do you need to safely move out of the way for?

Whether it's for law enforcement, fire trucks or ambulances, you need to safely get out of the way by moving out of their lane and stopping. If you hear sirens and the light turns green, wait before you cross the intersection.

What do you do when your car hydroplanes on a wet road?

When hydroplaning, your tires are gliding on water, not on the road. The best thing to do is ease off the accelerator and wait for your wheels to start touching the road again. Anything else will just exacerbate the hydroplaning.

How should you handle a tailgater?

Tailgating is a form of aggressive driving that no one should be doing. Braking on a tailgater is also a dangerous form of aggressive driving. So it's best to be courteous and kind, safely move out of the lane and just let the tailgater go on their way.

Which sense is the most important for driving?

Most of the information you receive as a driver will come through your sense of sight. This is another reason why texting and driving is dangerous to do.

You should get your tires replaced when the thread gets below what depth?

The general rule of thumb here is based on a test that involves an American penny. If you can see above Lincoln's head, it's time to replace them. If you want to be safer or drive in places that get a lot of rain, you'll want to replace your tires at 4/32 of an inch.

When are you allowed to NOT wear your seat belt?

Research shows that seat belts reduce injuries by 50 percent. Also, it's typically the law that requires everyone to wear seat belts. Young drivers ages 16 to 20 are most likely not to wear a seat belt and are also most likely to be involved in a fatal car crash where occupants were not belted in.

How far should the steering wheel be from your chest?

From the center of the steering wheel to your chest, there should be about a foot of room. This is also important for more modern cars, which have airbags that need room to deploy.

At what positions of the clock should you keep your hands on the steering wheel?

So before airbags, ten o'clock and 2 o'clock were the typical placements of your hands on the steering wheels. Nine o'clock and three o'clock make sure that you hands aren't caught when an airbag deploys and to comfortably give you stability as you drive.

How should you tilt your steering wheel?

The direction of your steering wheel matters because of how an airbag deploys. By pointing your steering to your chest, you will minimize facial injuries that can come from an airbag deploying.

How far away should you stop from a train crossing?

Maintaining proper distance from train tracks is important. Trains take up a lot more room than the width of the tracks.

If you are crossing an intersection and a traffic light turns yellow, what should you NOT do?

If you encounter a yellow light, it's not an excuse to go faster. No matter the situation, whenever you approach an intersection, you need to look for pedestrians and oncoming traffic.

If you're driving while tired or sleepy, what happens to your body?

According to the AAA Foundation, drowsy driving plays some role in 328,000 crashes on a yearly basis. 21 percent of fatal vehicle crashes and over one third of crashes involving injuries had a drowsy driver. If you are too tired to drive, take a rest or don't get behind the wheel.

Which statement is NOT true about speeding?

Speeding ultimately makes it unsafe for both the driver, any passengers and for other motorists on the road. If you drive above 65 mph, you may save a little time, but you will spend more on gas.

What's the shortest stopping distance you should give yourself while driving?

According to driving experts, you should adopt the three-second rule for following a car by counting "one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three." This is for 35 mph to 55 mph. This also for ideal road conditions—with good roads, nice weather and little traffic.

You should give four seconds of stopping distance for the following conditions EXCEPT which one?

Four seconds should be given when you're driving on the highway or faster roadways, when the weather or roads aren't ideal or when traffic is heavy. When it's snowy or icy, you should basically double that time to seven to eight seconds.

What should you NOT do when you experience a tire blowout?

When you have a tire blowout, it can be a scary experience. But the last thing you want to do is slam on your brakes. Just go easy while maintaining control of the car.

If a driver has had some alcohol, what will help them to become sober?

There are many myths about what you need to do to sober up before driving. But you have to wait for your liver to metabolize the alcohol in your bloodstream. If you've had a lot to drink, you should try to get some good sleep, take care of yourself and NOT DRIVE.

What is an example of driving unpredictably?

When you're driving, you want to be courteous by being a predictable driver. Aggressively driving because you're late or upset or whatever reason you have endangers yourself and other motorists.

When you're waiting to turn left at an intersection, which direction should your wheels be pointed?

Keeping your wheels straight while turning left keep you safe if, for some reason, your foot accidentally slips from the brake or if someone hits you from behind. Either way, you won't be pointing at oncoming traffic and making matters worse.

When it comes to making a left-hand turn, what is NOT true?

Making a left-hand turn is a little more complicated than a right-hand turn. You have to navigate the whole intersection with two possible sets of pedestrians. If you get a light to turn, it's easier, as traffic is typically stopped for you.

What is NOT true about driving with blind spots?

If you've ever driven around a large 18-wheeler truck, you know that they have bigger blind spots than you would have—even in a large SUV. Although car technology has greatly improved, blind spots are unavoidable, so we have to be extra careful—especially when driving with motorcyclists and cyclists.

What should you do when driving in bad weather?

It must be emphasized here that you want to wear POLARIZED sunglasses during DAYTIME rainstorms when the skies aren't too dark. According to optometrists, polarized sunglasses help reduce the glare that can come from rain falling on roadways or when rain shines through another vehicle's headlights.

Which medications can cause impaired driving?

If you're taking any sort of medication, you'll want to consult with your physician and/or pharmacist about potential side effects. Even Tylenol can affect some people.

What is NOT an example of an activity that can cause distracted driving?

Distracted driving is the number-one cause of car crashes, yet most drivers are multitasking as they drive. Using a phone is the most common distraction for drivers.

When two cars reach an intersection with stop signs at the same time, who gets to go first?

The driver on the right gets the right of way. But sometimes, this isn't heeded. So if the other driver jumps the gun, just give them the right of way.

If you encounter an aggressive driver, what should you do?

There's no point in escalating the situation when a driver is aggressive or is exhibiting road rage. Do your best to not engage and drive safely (and out of their way).

If there is an emergency vehicle stopped ahead, what should you do?

If a fire truck, police car or ambulance is stopped, whether it's on the side of the road or the middle of the road, give them room. Slow down, change lanes and keep traffic moving. This is not the time to rubberneck and try to see what's going on—you could cause another accident.

What should you NOT do if you're involved in a car crash?

Usually, even if it's just a fender better, a car crash can get your adrenaline going, and it can be disorienting. You want to make sure that you and your passengers are safe, so pulling over if you can and making sure another accident isn't caused by oncoming traffic is of utmost importance.

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