Driving school lessons you may have forgotten.

Whether you’re a brand-new driver or you’ve been on the road for decades, there’s a good chance you’ve forgotten a few of the rules you learned in driving school.

The truth is, many of us crammed for that test, just retaining some of that information long enough to pass the test and get our driver license. But some of those lessons we learned (and likely forgot) are just too important not to revisit.


Regardless of how much you think you remember, it’s probably good to get a refresher on the rules of the road. If you’re the studious type, and you REALLY want to dive in, treat yourself to a few joy-filled hours studying the Rhode Island Driver’s Manual. If that’s not quite your speed, you can start with this retro instructional video from UK.

Looking for the Cliffs Notes version? Here are the driving school lessons we think everyone should commit to memory.


Five driving school lessons you shouldn’t forget

Defensive driving

Defined as “the art of protecting yourself and others from dangerous and unexpected changes in the driving environment” in the Rhode Island Driver’s Manual, defensive driving is noted as a key element in avoiding accidents. The manual recommends using the IPDE “thinking process” to avoid collisions:

  • Identify: Keep an eye on the big picture to find hazards
  •  Predict: Use your judgment in determining how those hazards may cause an incident
  • Decide: Determine what actions you can take to avoid an accident
  • Execute: Put your plan into action to avoid an incident!

This is great advice, but sometimes seeing it in action makes it much easier to comprehend.

Distracted driving

These days, when people think about distracted driving, they think about their smartphones. It’s just so easy to lose driving focus to a text, an email or a music app. The truth is, distracted driving causes far too many accidents – according to the Rhode Island Driver’s Manual, 80 percent of collisions involve “some sort of inattention.” To combat these statistics, many states, including Rhode Island, are taking this very seriously with hands-free laws.

While cell phones are a big pull away from your concentration on the road, remember to keep an eye out for other things that can distract you, like drowsiness, emotions, your car radio, passengers and so on. Consider incorporating these three tips to maintain the focus and proper frame of mind when you hit the road:

  1. Always give yourself enough time. Plan ahead by checking Google Maps or Waze, that way you can see how long it will take to get to your destination at the time of day you’ll be traveling. The more time you leave yourself to get to your destination, the less you’ll be rushing, which leads to bad driving.
  2. Take a deep breath. When traffic is bad, or other drivers are driving irresponsibly, take a nice deep cleansing breath. There’s not much you can do to get out of a traffic jam other than waiting it out, and why not do it feeling calm and focused? If other drivers are stressed and their driving shows it, don’t get caught up in their emotions, just stay in your lane, stay calm and think happy thoughts.
  3. Take the high road. Being a courteous and kind driver spreads goodwill on the road. By being the driver you want others to be, you help make the roads more enjoyable. Don’t underestimate the impact your seemingly small positive acts can have on another driver.
Stopping distance

OK, pop quiz. On average, how many feet will it take your car to stop when traveling 60 MPH on a dry, level surface?

Tough question, we know.

It takes a car travelling 60 MPH an average of 66-300 feet to stop on dry level surface. With that, it’s an important reminder to keep a safe distance between you and the car in front. But how do you know if you’re leaving enough space or if you’re braking too abruptly?

Imagine placing a glass of water on the dashboard. Each time you brake, think about whether the water would spill based on your change in speed. If the answer is yes, you’re probably leaving plenty of space between you and the car in front of you. If not, you may want to leave a little more room.

Right of way

If two cars arrive at a four-way stop at the same time, who has the right of way? If you answered, “the car on the right” – you’re correct. Drivers must yield to the driver on their right in this situation.

While this is not the toughest question for seasoned drivers, having a firm understanding of who has the right of way in different situations is an important driving school lesson to remember.

Odd laws

While you probably didn’t hear about these laws in driving school, we think they are worthy of inclusion in this article.

If you live in Rhode Island, keep these three things in mind so you’re always in compliance with state law:

We hope this has served as a reminder of the important things you learned in driving school. Of course, we couldn’t cover all of the exciting (and not so exciting) details. How much do you remember from driving school? We pulled together a few questions that will put your knowledge, and memory, to the test.