Top pet peeves of driving instructors

Top pet peeves of driving instructors

Nobody knows the rules of the road better than a driving instructor.

They spend countless hours in cars teaching anxious teenagers - and even a handful of adults - good driving techniques.

Such an acute knowledge of driving makes it easy for them to distinguish good driving habits from the really bad ones.

“We’ve seen people putting on makeup, shaving and even eating their lunch while driving,” says Patrick May, vice president of sales & marketing for highly rated I Drive Smart in Rockville, Maryland. “Many people are preoccupied when they drive.”

Too much texting tops complaints

What’s the biggest pet peeve? Texting and driving - and just basic phone usage while driving - leads the pack by a wide margin, according to driving instructors. Not only is it extremely dangerous, May says, it’s illegal in many states and cities.

“When you’re texting and driving, you’re using a device,” May says. “You’re engrossed with the device. One hundred percent of their attention is off the road. Physically, they’re using one or both hands. It’s taking away control of the vehicle and their visual attention, too.”

May adds it’s often noticeable when drivers text and drive.

“It’s almost like they’re drunk,” he says. “They’re not staying in the lane, they’re losing control. A lot of times they slow down and do not respond to what’s around them.”

May says one way to prevent the dangers of texting and driving is to have a “bext friend,” or someone that reminds you not to text and drive.

Patience behind the wheel

While texting and driving may be the most dangerous pet peeve, it’s certainly not the only one.

Don Gross, owner of highly rated AA Indiana Driving School in Carmel, Indiana, says driving etiquette in general is lacking for many drivers today.

“A lot of this is just the pace of society,” Gross says. “We’re so used to an immediate response and getting everything instantly that people are less patient and in a hurry. We see more adults running red lights. The light will go yellow, then red and two or three cars will go through.”

Gross says he frequently notices drivers cruising through stop signs and failing to stop completely for right turns and red lights.

May, meanwhile, says tailgating is an issue.

“The vast majority of adults do not follow the rules,” he says. “Many follow too closely, which creates a potential risk.”

Additional pet peeves

- Forgetting (or ignoring) the turn signal.

- Lights. People should use their lights in rainy or darker conditions, and not just at night, May says. “They’re not just for you to see well; it’s also to be seen,” says May, who uses his lights even on clear days. “You’re always more visible when the lights are on.”

- Not wearing a seatbelt.

- Roundabouts: “We’re seeing people not understanding these,” Gross says. “They don’t look at the information signs when approaching and they approach much too fast.”

Finding a reputable school

When looking for a driving school, check Angie’s List reviews, and make sure it's appropriately licensed and insured.

“If you want to see if they’re reputable, look at their track record,” Gross says. “How long have they been in business, and what do their contracts look like? Also, how open are they? Can (a parent) ride in the car with the instructor?”

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Nick Staropoli, operations manager at Powell Motors in Portland, Ore., thinks it’s important to limit the number of distractions we bring into our vehicles.
Photo by James Holk
Nick Staropoli, operations manager at Powell Motors in Portland, Ore., thinks it’s important to limit the number of distractions we bring into our vehicles. Photo by James Holk

Driving schools and courses offer educational right of safe passage to teenage drivers seeking learners' permits or licenses.

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