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Once you’re done with your driving lessons, the next big thing between you and your New York license is the road test. It might be smarter to put your defensive driving tips to pass your road test into play for you to nail it on the first try. As you know, defensive driving goes beyond mastering driving and the rules of the road.

Besides minimizing the risk of collisions, using defensive driving techniques will prove to your examiner that you’re ready to be on the road. It’ll be clear to them that you’ve honed your driving skills, and you can make the roads safer as a driver.

Let’s dive into the defensive driving tips to help you pass the road test on your first try.

Defensive Driving Tips to Help You Pass the Road Test

1. Focus on the Wheel and the Road Ahead

defensive driving tips

Your phone? Leave it in Siberia. That juicy gossip? File it for later. Your road test is laser focus time. Keep your eyes glued to the road, mirrors, and that examiner giving you the silent judgment stare (don’t let it faze you!). Remember, a distracted driver is a dangerous driver, and nobody wants to win that award.

2. Scan Like a Hawk

While you should focus on the motorists in front, you must also scan the road farther ahead to identify any hazards or blind spots. Use the car mirrors to check behind and the surroundings to avoid possible dangers.

Also, don’t pay much attention to the examiner. Your primary attention should be on the road, don’t be anxious to know everything the examiner is writing down and doing. You may lose your attention and conclude with an accident and a road test failure.

3. Be Ready, Player One

You should be ready to drive defensively to avoid crashes or collisions as you drive. Preventive actions are necessary for your safety and that of other motorists. Sit straight without slouching, and keep your hands on the wheel. If you spot a hazard in front, you should take the necessary action, like changing lanes safely or slowing down.

Furthermore, as you enter the car, be well prepared because the instructor will be on you, expecting you to perform a few essential tasks that will add points to your road test. These tasks include safely operating the seatbelt, adjusting rear and side-way mirrors, turning on taillights, high beams, and headlights, and controlling the heating system and air conditioner.

4. The 3-Second Rule: Your New Mantra

The three-second rule requires you to keep a safe distance from the motorist in front of you. You should have 3 seconds of driving time between you and the other motorist. You should have ample room to maneuver.

The three-second rule applies in situations such as;

5. School’s Cool

Before taking your road test, you should polish your defensive driving skills by enrolling in a reputable driving school. This will help you upskill to become a safe driver. A defensive driving course will improve your safety knowledge and update your knowledge of local driving laws and regulations. The driving school has certified instructors who will take you through a comprehensive curriculum to ensure you pass your road test.

6. Sign Language for Drivers

defensive driving tips for new drivers


When taking your road test, you should be keen on the traffic rules and road signs in your test location. You’ll encounter truck drivers driving beyond the speed limit for one reason or another on the road. They maneuver through uneven surfaces, sharp curves, and other hazards. You must be keen on the road signs and your driving to avoid colliding with them.

Stay alert at intersections and stop signs. Watch for crossing traffic to see if motorists stop at the red light. Proceed only when you have the right of way.

7. Right Lane Life

Don’t change lanes unnecessarily, as slipping between motorists will risk causing an accident. Another motorist may do the same thing, which may endanger your safety. If you try to slip between two drivers without much space between them, the vehicle in front may slow down, causing you to rear-end it. You’ll not only be breaking the traffic law but will also you’re your driving test.

safe driving tips

During your driving lessons, you were taught that the far right lane is for entering and exiting the highway, while the left lane can be used to pass other cars. You cannot drive on these lanes while traveling long distances.

8. Brake with Grace

Don’t brake suddenly unless you’re out of choices. Always watch the brake lights of the cars in front. If you notice several vehicles slowing or braking, you should start braking early to avoid an abrupt stop. Also, tap your brakes several times to warn the motorists behind you.

Aggressive braking may cause you to miss points on the road test. When arriving at the required destination, apply pressure on the brake pedal about a quarter-mile before to give your vehicle ample time to stop.

9. Speed Demons Need Not Apply

steps of defensive driving


The posted speed limit isn’t just a suggestion, it’s a law. Obey it like your driving life depends on it (because it kinda does). Going too fast not only makes you a hazard, but it also makes the examiner think you have the emotional control of a caffeinated squirrel. Slow and steady wins the race, especially the road test race.

10. Drive Defensively

Ensure you are in the center of your lane every time you drive. Avoid driving in another motorist’s blind spot. Also, ensure you keep your car in an open space where you can freely change lanes if an emergency arises.

Switch lanes to avoid the tailgating motorist, but only do it when it’s safe. If it’s impossible to switch lanes, tap your brake pedal lightly, and the brake lights will flash to warn the tailgating car that you’re slowing to give them away. If the driver keeps tailgating, just pull off the road to let them pass.

11. Lights, Camera, Signal!

If your visibility is impaired while driving on a winding road or in the rain, snow, low light, and fog, turn off your headlights to allow other vehicles to see you. Only use high beams in low-traffic areas and turn them down for oncoming motorists.

Use blinkers to signal other drivers that you’re changing lanes or turning. This will help to prevent collisions.

How do you use the 3-second rule?

To estimate the time between your car and the car ahead of you, carefully watch as the vehicle passes a roadside landmark; then, count the seconds your car will take to reach the landmark. The landmark may be a tree, road sign, mile marker, guardrail section or anything closer to the road.

What is the hardest thing to do on the driving test?

Count out doing head checks, reverse parking, or signaling as the hardest thing to pass the driving road test. The hardest part is having all your moves monitored when driving the car by an examiner and with all your driving nervousness, knowing you may fail your long waiting test in case of several mistakes.

What is the most important skill of defensive driving?

The most important skill you should have in defensive driving is looking ahead. Ensure you scan the road ahead and behind you with your defensive driving skills. Drivers with these skills scan ahead every ten seconds in a quarter of a mile or a nearby intersection to avoid the occurrence of any potential danger.

Wrapping Up

Driving defensively gives you complete control when behind the steering will. Proper preparation and attention to instructions will help you focus throughout your road test. These are defensive driving tips to pass your road test on your first try.

Always follow the road signs and traffic rules and avoid any form of distractions. This will let you concentrate on the task ahead to the end. Above all, come well-prepared to pass.