Doreen Haughton-James never thought she and her husband Mark would open a driving school.
Eight years ago, their 15-year old daughter was put on a waiting list to take drivers education in high school.
When the high schooler informed her parents, Doreen told her husband that he should teach the class since he was always getting tickets.
“He was an awful driver in high school, but he is an excellent driver now.”
So 123 Drive! Driving Academy was born.
And in those 8 years of teaching, they’ve only had one accident.
In fact it was Doreen who was on road test with one of her student drivers.
The extra brake, installed for instructors, wasn’t going to stop this accident.
“The woman just gassed it and went (through the intersection),” she said. “Thankfully it was (vehicle) damage only and nobody was hurt.”
And that’s what Haughton-James stresses to her young drivers.
“We teach our kids (students) to look at intersections - rather than focusing on the car in front of them. You have to take everything in. Anticipate (what the other drivers may do).”
While the driving school cars do have automated safety features, like back-up cameras, they’re out of play.
“We don’t let them (students) use them,” she said. “We teach them to look in their blind spot, scan intersections and not rely on technology. Does technology always work perfectly? No.” she stressed.
And then there are the simple things for seasoned drivers that always seem to be so difficult.
For example what to do when ambulances and fire trucks.
Haughton-James recalled seeing a driver who likely panicked and pulled over to the left lane, then drove into the median and then decided to pull back into the lane, nearly striking the ambulance.
“People do crazy, careless things out there,” she said.
“Ambulances (drivers) are trained to pass on the left and drivers should move to the right.” Haughton-James stresses that “Even if an emergency vehicle is coming at you, you should still shift right or pull over. The ultimate goal is to give them the space they need to get through as quickly as possible.”
In the video attached to this story, there are 8 on-the-road questions to test drivers skills.
You can still pass with one wrong answer.
And unlike basic road rules, here are four things may have changed if you took your driving test 30 years ago.
Hand placement: If you were taught to have your hands at the 10 and 2 o’clock position, you’re old school. With the standardization of airbags (standard for passenger cars built after 1998, 1999 for all and SUVs, pickups and vans according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) hands should be in the 8 and 4 o’clock position to keep hands from flying into your face due to airbag deployment.
Car distance/spacing: For every 10 miles per hour, leave one car length. Forget the math. When the car in front of you passes a stationary object it should take you three seconds before you reach that same object.
Mirrors: This one will likely take some getting to used to. It is now recommended that your side mirrors should show your blind spot. Haughton-James says as you look at your side mirrors from left to right, the rear view mirror should complete the visual puzzle. You should not be able to see the side of your car from a normal driving position. Here’s a test: You should have to lean slightly towards the driver’s window or to the passengers window to see your car.
Technology: Don’t rely on technology. While adaptive cruise control, lane departure warnings, back-up cameras and blind spot monitoring are helpful, don’t take those things for granted. They work the best if you monitor and pay attention to your surroundings.