Could You Pass an American Driving School Exam?

Jonnathan Chadwick

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Driving. Remember that? Once a rite of passage as American as apple pie, driving has evolved into nothing more than a hassle. Quite simply, people are forgetting how to drive. Specifically, people don't care about learning how to drive, and deservedly so. What's the point? Have you seen the costs of parking, gas and taxes? Do you know the price of a speeding ticket? You can zap around on an app for a fraction of the cost. Add that to the fact new cars will be self-driving soon and most cars can parallel park for you, what's the point of learning how to drive? Pure, raw driving is for cavemen.

But you still need to share the road with a bunch of people, and the only driving skill you need to learn is how to avoid bad drivers. Whether you're walking, running, cycling or driving, bad drivers are always a threat, and the only way to avoid them is to know the rules of the road. If you're walking across the crosswalk, do you have the right of way? If a pedestrian is in the road, do you have to stop for them? If you're jogging across an all-way stop sign, which car is going to go first? And why is there a cyclist in the middle lane? Whether you're old school or new age or can't understand the point of learning how to drive, you need to know how to properly navigate the roads you travel. Can you pass this American driving school exam?

In which of these situations are you allowed to break traffic laws?

You are never allowed to break traffic laws, that's why they are laws, but whether an officer fines you for the offense is up to their discretion. Some risks are worth taking, but ambulances are roaming mini-hospitals, so calling them is faster than driving to a hospital.

What do double yellow lines on the road represent?

The double yellow lines might be the most important road markings to follow while driving. They mark the center of a two-way road and separate traffic. The yellow lines will break in areas where cars are allowed to cross over.

While driving on the highway, you may see a sign indicating what, that helps keep traffic flowing smoothly?

Just as, if not more, important than the speed limit is the minimum speed allowed in an area. A highway with a speed limit of 65 mph will probably have a minimum speed of 45 mph. Doing 15 mph in a 65, for example, is as dangerous as doing 100 mph in a 65.

Who is allowed to drive in an HOV lane?

The HOV lane is for high-occupancy vehicles, and anyone who is driving at least one passenger can use the lane, although in some cities you have to have more than one. It takes on different names in different parts of the country, and it is commonly known as the carpool lane.

On a three-lane highway, which lane is for cruising?

The middle lane of the highway is for through traffic. The right lane is for entering and exiting the highway, and the left lane if for passing only. These aren't laws, as they'd be impossible to enforce, but they're guidelines for driving on the highway.

When do you need to use your headlights?

Across the country, drivers must use their headlights between sunset and sunrise. Some areas require drivers to use headlights in heavy rain, and you should always use lights in fog. New car models will automatically turn headlights on and off depending on the elements.

What does this small rectangular sign that sometimes accompanies a stop sign mean?

Not all stop signs are equal. Some stop signs sit at three- or four-way intersections, and a matching rectangular sign underneath the stop sign will designate whether the stop is a multi-way stop. At a multi-way stop, you have to be aware of whose turn it is to go. It is first come, first go.

What does it mean if you're driving down the road and the solid yellow line nearest you turns into a broken yellow line?

Sometimes the double yellow lines turn into one broken line and one solid line. Cars driving on the side of the broken line can legally cross over the yellow lines to pass a car in front of them. If the solid line is on your side, you can't cross it.

If the speed limit is 65 mph, how fast can you go before getting a speeding ticket?

If the speed limit is 65 mph, you can get a speeding ticket for going 66 mph, but it is unlikely. Most officers give a buffer somewhere around 10% of the limit plus a couple miles per hour, so if you're doing 70 in a 65, it's unlikely you'll get a ticket, but you still can.

How much space should be between you and the car in front of you while driving down the street?

The bare minimum amount of space between you and the car in front of you is enough for you to see their side mirrors. If you can't see them, you're tailgating. At 55 mph, It takes more than four seconds to completely stop your car.

In which of these situations must you use your blinker lights?

Even if you don't have blinker lights, which is illegal, you can learn the hand signals for turning. There is no excuse for driving around without signaling your turns to other drivers and pedestrians. You should use your blinker every time you turn.

What does this triangular sign that features a man holding a child's arm signify?

There are a few different types of pedestrian signs on the road, and this specific one designates a school crossing area. You should be aware of school hours when driving in these areas, since these crossings will be busy a couple of hours a day.

What must you do if you approach a blinking red light while driving?

A blinking red light is the same as a stop sign. You have to come to a complete stop and make sure it is safe to proceed before doing so. If you approach a blinking yellow light, you can simply slow down before proceeding.

In what direction does traffic flow within a roundabout?

A roundabout intersection is called a rotary in most of New England, and traffic moves counterclockwise through them. It is just a circular intersection, but they can be confusing to drivers who have never seen them.

Are you allowed to eat while driving?

You can drive while eating in every state of the U.S., but driving while distracted is unlawful, and whether you're driving distracted depends on the officer's discretion. It's not a smart idea to eat soup while driving, but a banana might not be too distracting.

What score must you achieve to pass the driver's license exam?

The passing score depends on the state. The lowest passing score is 70% and it's accepted in several states including New York and Texas. The highest minimum passing score is 86% in Virginia and 85% in Idaho, and a majority of states require a score of 80%.

What does this diamond sign with a squiggly arrow represent?

If you see this sign, it means you're going to encounter at least three turns back-to-back-to-back. It's best to reduce speed to the designated limit and be prepared for large turns. One of the easiest ways to get into an accident is to misjudge how big a turn is.

Are you allowed to cross double yellow lines if you need to make a left turn?

You are never allowed to cross double yellow lines, unless you need to make a left turn. For the most part, the lines will break in areas where turns can be made, but if you need to turn into a small driveway or something, the lines likely won't break, but you can legally turn left across them.

What do you do if you are at a red light when an ambulance sounds its sirens behind you?

You always need to pull over and yield the right of way to an emergency vehicle that is traveling with its lights and/or siren on. If you're at an intersection, it's a little trickier, but you have to safely cross the intersection and pull over out of the vehicle's way.

How often do you need to renew your driver's license?

You'll need to get a new license when you turn 16, 18 and 21, but after that, you'll need to get your license renewed every 8 years. Once you turn 65, you need to renew your license every five years. Driving with an expired license is against the law.

Which of these driving techniques can you use to turn around on a narrow street?

The three-point turn is one of the first techniques every new driver must learn because if not, it can very quickly turn into a six- or seven-point turn. A three-point turn means you drive forward, reverse and then forward again, and that's it.

What must you do if you're driving in the right lane and see this sign?

This merge sign means the right lane is going to come to an end soon and all drivers must be prepared to merge with the left lane. You need to be aware of cars in the left lane when you see this sign, and you may need to slow down when merging.

Should you wear noise-canceling headphones while driving?

Driving laws vary state by state and it is illegal to drive with headphones in about 20 U.S. states. Distracted driving is illegal everywhere, and an officer can use his or her discretion to decide whether you're driving distracted.

You can't rely on just your rear-view mirrors when changing lanes because of what?

Every car has blind spots. They are located at the rear corners of the car, and rear-view mirrors won't spot any vehicle in the blind spot. The only way to safely check your blind spot is by turning around and looking. When switching lanes, you should accelerate through blind spots as quickly as possible.

What do you do if a piece of debris falls through your windshield as you're driving down the highway?

This is one of the scariest things that can happen while driving and it happens more than you think. If something crashes through your window while on the highway, put on your caution lights and safely pull over to the breakdown lane.

When stopped at an intersection, where should you look first to check for oncoming traffic?

In America, drivers drive on the right side of the road, so at an intersection, the car closest to you will approach from the left. A rule of thumb is to look left, right and then left before crossing an intersection, but you should look as many times as you need to safely cross.

What does this blue sign with a question mark stand for?

This is an information sign, and believe it or not, there was a time before smartphones and laptops where people actually had to stop at a physical location to get information. These signs directed drivers to those locations.

Are you allowed to drive barefoot?

There is a slew of driving myths out there and this is one of them. It is not illegal to drive barefoot or with flip-flops anywhere in the U.S. but it is highly discouraged in almost every state. You should never do anything that distracts you or makes driving more dangerous.

What do you do if a deer jumps in front of your car while driving?

You never want to jam on your brakes or swerve at high speeds, as this will probably cause you to lose total control of your car. If it isn't possible to come to a complete stop before reaching the deer, brake as hard as possible without allowing your car to skid and brace for impact.

What must you do if you arrive at an intersection and see this sign?

This is a yield sign, and you have to slow down and be prepared to come to a complete stop when you approach one. It means that you must give up the right of way to an opposing or converging lane of cars. You don't need to stop, but might have to.

How do you signal a right turn if your car's blinker lights don't work?

If your blinker lights are broken you need to get them fixed immediately. Driving without blinkers is reckless and you can be cited for it. Even if you don't plan to ever use these hand signals, they're helpful to know since cyclists and bikers also use them.

In which of these situations is it best to use your high beams?

You can use your high beams whenever you want as long as you're not distracting other drivers. This means when you're the only car on the road or a significant distance from every other car. Using high beams in snow and fog might actually reflect light into your face and make things worse. Low beams are better for those situations. and some cars come equipped with fog lights.

If you're driving down a country road and the car in front of you veers off the road and hits a tree, what do you do?

If you witness a car crash, you should safely pull over and call 911. It's illegal to use your cellphone while driving in many states. If the car is smoking or on fire, don't approach it, but if it looks safe to do so, you can check on the occupants.

If you leave a dent on the car next to you as you pull out of a parking space, you are allowed to leave after?

If you get into a minor accident with a parked car, you are supposed to leave a note with contact information and immediately contact local police to report the accident. If you leave, you can be charged with leaving the scene of an accident or a hit-and-run.

At what time are you allowed to park on the street when you see this sign?

This is a simple "No Parking" sign and it means you can never park in front of it. Parking signs are complicated and widely vary depending on where you are, so you always have to read them. Parking in front of a sign like this is an easy way to get your car towed.

Are you allowed to use your phone's GPS while driving?

You are allowed to use your phone's GPS navigation as long as it is securely mounted somewhere that doesn't obscure your view. There are still some states where you can use a handheld device while driving, but it will likely be outlawed everywhere soon.

If you see railroad tracks up ahead but no lights or signs, what should you do?

A lot of railroad crossings will have signage and markings, but some don't. When approaching railroad tracks, approach them like a flashing yellow light. Slow down and be alert, listen for sounds and be prepared to stop. Most railroads are elevated so they function like speed bumps anyway.

How close can you park to a fire hydrant?

This law varies state by state, but you usually have to park at least 15 feet away from a fire hydrant, which is about the length of an average sedan. Parking in front of a fire hydrant isn't just expensive, it puts people's lives at risk.

In which of these situations should you use your car's horn?

Your car's horn is pretty useless, but it does come in handy sometimes. You shouldn't overuse it, and it's only effective in some situations. Maybe the guy at the red light fell asleep and he doesn't know it turned green. Maybe somebody is veering into your lane. Use the horn sparingly.

Who is allowed to park in a parking spot marked with this sign?

The only people who should park in handicapped parking spots are people with a handicapped parking license, and if you don't have one, stay out of spaces reserved for those who do! Anyone can apply for the license at their local DMV.

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!

Explore More Quizzes