About 25% of prospective licensed drivers in Arizona fail the road test. And with failure comes a seven-day waiting period until you can retake the test.
But with proper preparation, you can be among the 75% of people who pass your driving test and leave with a shiny new driver license in hand. Part of that preparation involves expert instruction, and another part includes being aware of common mistakes, so you don’t make them yourself.
Mistake: Not making an appointment
You can take your written test online anytime, but you must complete your road test in person by scheduling an appointment in advance. To take your test, you can schedule with the MVD or an authorized third party location.
Mistake: Not bringing your paperwork
Before you can even get behind the wheel, you’ll have to supply two forms of ID. One form must be what’s called a “primary” form (such as a birth certificate or passport). The second form must be an original social security card or W2 that shows your social security number. (For minors, parents can supply their own driver license or state ID to satisfy the second form of ID requirement.)
In addition, don’t forget to bring your completed driver license application and instructional permit, along with written certification showing you’ve completed the required supervised driving hours or a state-approved drivers ed course.
Mistake: Not meeting vehicle requirements
Long before your appointment, you should make sure that your vehicle meets the requirements of the Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles. For starters, your vehicle must have proof of current registration, license plates, and insurance.
Next, check all of the following to be sure they are in good working condition:
- Working brakes
- Properly operating brake lights
- Working mechanical turn signals
- Seat belts are installed (if your car is newer than 1972)
- Tires are in good condition
- Front driver and passenger doors operate properly
- Front driver and passenger windows operate properly
- Windshield is intact and offers an unobstructed view
- Working factory equipped horn
- Left outside rear view mirror
Mistake: Messing up your parking test
A successful park job is the first thing you’ll be required to do before you head out to the road. You’ll be tested on your parallel parking skills or be asked to complete a three-point turn, depending on where you take your test.
Mistake: Not adjusting your mirrors prior to the test
You should never adjust your mirrors during a driving test. Check mirror positioning and make adjustments before the test begins.
Mistake: Not coming to a complete stop
No rolling or incomplete stops at stop signs or red lights are allowed (during your test or after you get your license). To pass your test, you must come to a complete stop behind the line.
Mistake: Not knowing what to do at a four-way stop
Be sure you know how to handle a four-way stop. Remember that if you’re the first to arrive at a four-way stop, you’re the first to drive. If you arrive at the same time as another vehicle, the right of way goes to the right.
Mistake: Driving too fast or too slowly
Stick to the speed limit and drive the proper speed for road or weather conditions. If you drive too fast, whether you exceed the speed limit or you drive too fast in rain, fog, or traffic, you could risk failure. Likewise for driving too slowly and being overly cautious, because this can lead to crashes. Be alert to speed limit changes, too (such as when you get into a school or construction zone).
Mistake: Improper lane changes
Making maneuvers like changing lanes in an intersection, or failing to change lanes smoothly and safely can lead to a driver’s test fail.
Mistake: Not checking your blind spot
Be sure you know and use the proper procedure for checking blind spots. You’ll be required to demonstrate this even if you have driver assist technology in your vehicle.
Mistake: Not using your turn signal correctly
Whether turning or changing lanes, you must use your turn signals appropriately. Always turn on your signal no less than 100 feet prior to making a turn. If you’re changing multiple lanes, remember that each lane change is its own maneuver; that means you must turn your signal off and back on again before completing each lane change.
Mistake: Not knowing how to turn properly
This includes using your turn signals, but it also includes knowing how to safely make and complete both right and left turns. Make hand-over-hand turns with the steering wheel, and release the steering wheel from the turn in a controlled way.
Mistake: Following another vehicle too closely
Keep a three- to four-second following distance so you’ll have time to react if the car in front of you brakes or swerves suddenly.
Mistake: Not handling the steering wheel correctly
Keep a firm (but not white-knuckle tight) grip on the steering wheel in the 9-and-3 position, and when you turn, use a hand-over-hand technique.
Mistake: Getting distracted
Don’t worry about anything other than driving safely, and that includes not concerning yourself with what the test administrator is writing down. Focus on the road and your surroundings.
Mistake: Not driving with confidence
While it’s a normal human reaction to feel nervous when taking a test and doing something new, don’t let a lack of confidence hurt your driving performance. Just trust your preparation, and focus on your test administrator’s instructions and the road.
Did you know? You can take your driving test with your driver’s ed instructor as part of your in-car instruction! Not having to take your test with a total stranger can eliminate much of the stress. Learn more about Stop and Go Driving School’s in-car driver’s education packages that allow you to bypass the MVD road test.