STEERING, SIGNALING, AND CHANGING LANES
Steering control is critical to safe, successful driving. Developing
steering control involves acquiring visual habits, such as looking
far ahead into your intended path of travel, using space correctly,
controlling speed, and continually adjusting the steering wheel.
Steering Straight Forward
Always use a comfortable, balanced hand position. Avoid looking
at your hands or feet, but instead always look far ahead of you.
This will enable you proper time to put in place the IPDE system
you have already learned in a previous chapter.
Some new drivers tend to oversteer the vehicle. When you oversteer,
your vehicle will weave from side to side. The adjustments you make
to drive straight are small but critical.
Steering Straight Backward
When steering backward, it involves knowing where to look and
how to control the direction of your vehicle and your speed. Before
backing up, make sure your path is clear of all objects, keeping
in mind that some objects are below your field of vision. Follow
- Hold the brake pedal down then shift to reverse.
- Turn your body to the right and put your right arm over the
back of the passenger seat. Look back through the rear window.
- Put your left hand at the top of the steering wheel at the 12:00
- Release pressure on the brake just enough to allow the vehicle
to creep backward slowly.
- While looking back through the rear window, move the top of
the steering wheel toward the direction you want the back of the
car to go.
- Keep your foot over the brake pedal while your vehicle is moving
backward. Glance quickly to the front and sides to check traffic
or check objects in your path. Continue to look back through the
rear window as you brake to a stop.
Developing the habit of signaling every time you plan to turn,
change lanes, slow or stop. Signal well in advance before you begin
any maneuver. Doing so gives other drivers time to react.
You must learn to change lanes smoothly before attempting to pass
other drivers on a highway. Sometimes you need to change lanes before
making a turn.
Steering control is a critical factor as your learn the lane-changing
maneuver. Oversteering can cause your vehicle to turn too sharply
as you start to enter the adjoining lane.
Always follow the same procedure for making a lane change, regardless
of your reason for making the lane change. Before changing lanes,
check all zones for possible hazards. You have learned the concept
of “Zone Control” in a previous lesson. Make sure you
can see far ahead in the lane of your intended path of travel and
that there are no obstructions in either lane.
Follow these steps when making a lane change to the left:
- Check traffic in the front and left-front zones. Check rear
zones through the rear-view mirrors.
- Signal and make a blind-spot check over your left shoulder to
see if any vehicle is about to pass you.
- Increase your speed slightly as you steer smoothly into the
next lane if it is clear.
- Cancel your signal and adjust your speed.
- Follow the same procedure when making a lane change to the right
with one exception. After checking traffic ahead and through both
mirrors, check the blind-spot area over your right shoulder.
You use hand-over-hand steering by pulling the sheering wheel
down with one hand while your other hand crosses over to pull the
wheel farther down. Follow these steps for a left turn:
- Begin the turn from a balanced hand position.
- Start pulling down to the left with your left hand. Your right
hand pushes the wheel toward the left about a quarter turn.
- Release your left hand from the wheel and cross it over your
right hand to grasp the wheel near the top. Continue pulling down.
- When your turn is completed, unwind the steering wheel using
the same process that you used to make the turn.
Making Left and Right Turns
Use your “Zone Control” when making any left or right
hand turns to check for all traffic. Look for pedestrians and oncoming
vehicles. Check rear zones for vehicles about to pass you. Plan
turns well in advance. Be in the correct lane about a block before
your turn and let other drivers know of your intentions by signaling.
Procedures for Turning
numbers in the picture, match the following steps for turns.
- Position your vehicle in the correct lane for the turn. For
a right turn, be in lane position 3 if there are no parked vehicles.
For a left turn, be in lane nearest the center line in lane position
2. Signal about half a block before the turn.
- Brake early to reduce speed.
- Use your visual search pattern to check the front zones for
vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
- Slow to about 10 mph just before the crosswalk.
- For a right turn, check to the left again before turning. Then
look in the direction of the turn. Begin turning the wheel when
your vehicle’s front bumper is even with the curbline.
- For a left turn, check traffic to the left, then right, then
left again. Turn the steering wheel just before the front of your
vehicle reaches the center of the intersection. Continue looking
left into the lane your will enter.
- As you begin your turn, make a quick blind-spot check through
the right side window. Check front and rear zones. If the intersection
is clear, turn into the nearest lane of traffic going in your
- Accelerate about halfway through the turn as you return the
wheel to the straight-ahead position.
Some drivers find perpendicular parking one of the most difficult
driving maneuvers to complete because of the size of their vehicles,
and the size of the parking spots. Obviously, the larger your vehicle,
the less space you have to work with. Try to find a parking space
that fits the size of your vehicle.
Many drivers use reference points to serve as guides in determining
the position of the vehicle in the roadway. A reference point is
some part of the outside or inside of the vehicle, as viewed from
the driver’s seat, that relates to some part of the roadway.
Reference points can be developed for the front, side or rear to
help you know where your vehicle is located in the road. A standard
reference point is the point on the vehicle that is typical for
most drivers. This could be a sideview mirror, a hood ornament,
or the center of the hood.
Once you have learned standard reference points, you can develop
your own reference point. As you begin to practice parking maneuvers,
you will learn which parts of your vehicle to use as a personal
reference point. You will be able to line up these points with parts
of other vehicles to help execute the maneuvers.
The following parking procedures refer to entering a parking space
to your right. When parking to your left, adjust your actions and
visual checks for the left side.
Use angle parking to park your vehicle diagonally to the curb.
Angle parking is often used in parking lots and shopping centers.
- Check for traffic and pedestrians. Position your vehicle at
least six feet from the row of parked vehicles. Signal a right
turn, check traffic to the rear, and begin braking.
- Check your right blind spot and continue braking.
- Creep forward until you can see the center of the space without
your line of sight cutting across the parking line. This is your
reference point to begin turning. Turn the wheels sharply to the
right. Slowly enter the spot.
- Straighten the wheels when you are centered in the space. Determine
your forward reference point and place the front of the bumper
even with the curb or parking line.
Use perpendicular parking to park your vehicle at a right angle
to the curb.
- Position your vehicle at least eight feet from the row of parked
vehicles, or as far to the left of the lane as possible. Signal
right. Check your right blind spot and begin to brake.
- Check traffic to the rear, and continue braking.
- Determine your personal reference point to know when the front
bumper of your vehicle passes the left rear taillight of the vehicle
to the right of the empty parking space. Turn the wheel sharply
right. Slowly enter the stall. Check your right-rear fender for
- Straighten the wheels when you are centered in the space. Use
a forward reference point, like the driver’s side-view mirror,
to stop before the wheels strike the curb.
Leaving an Angle or Perpendicular Space
Your view often will be locked as you begin to back into moving
traffic. Back slowly. Look to the rear and to the sides as you search
for other roadway users and pedestrians.
- Creep straight back while you control speed with your brake.
- When your front bumper is even with the rear bumper of the vehicle
on your left, begin to turn right.
- Back into the nearest lane and stop with the wheels straight.
Shift to a forward gear and proceed as you scan your front and
Use parallel parking to park your vehicle parallel to the curb.
Select a space that is five to six feet longer than your vehicle.
During the maneuver, the front of your vehicle will swing far to
the left. Check over your left shoulder to be sure this needed space
- Flash brake lights and signal a right turn. Stop 2 to 3 feet
away from the front vehicle with the two rear bumpers even. Shift
to reverse. Check traffic. Look back over your right shoulder.
Back slowly as you turn right. Aim toward the right-rear corner
of the space. Control speed with your foot brake.
- When the back of your seat is even with the rear bumper of the
front vehicle, straighten the wheels. Determine your personal
reference point for this position. Slowly back straight. Look
over your shoulder, through the rear window.
- When your front bumper is even with the front vehicle’s
back bumper, turn your wheels sharply left. Back slowly. Look
out the rear window.
- When your vehicle is parallel to the curb, straighten wheels
and stop before you touch the vehicle behind. Develop reference
points to know your distance from the curb and from the vehicle
behind you. Slowly pull forward to center your vehicle in the
Leaving a Parallel Parking Space
Your must yield to all oncoming traffic when pulling out of a
parallel parking space.
- Back straight slowly until your rear bumper almost touches
the vehicle behind. Turn your wheels sharply left as you stop.
- Signal left and check your blind spot. Move forward slowly if
there is no traffic coming.
- Check the right-front corner of your vehicle for clearance.
- Turn your wheels slowly to the right when you are halfway out
of the parking space. Scan front zones and accelerate gently as
you center your vehicle in the traffic lane.