Components: BTW Tips 1.

Behind the Wheel Training

Successful Driving Begins With Successful Training At National Driver Training, we want students to learn safe driving HABITS that will stick with them for a lifetime. We believe we are different than other driving schools for three main reasons.

Our Approach

Our training is based on a very detailed 7-step process that identifies key behaviors that a student should master before moving to a more complex driving environment.

Our Driving Skills Coaches

Our driving instructors are the best in the industry. We seek out professional drivers that have years of training experience. From former driver license examiners to retired police officers, our driving skills coaches have experience that far exceeds the industry standard. Get to know our instructors.

Our Vehicles

Our Vehicles – We use all new vehicles that have the latest technology to keep your student safe and comfortable. Our cars are all equipped with a passenger side brake and are regularly put through meticulous safety inspections, cleaning and maintenance.

Behind The Wheel Tips
Level 1
1. Level One, Parking Lot, 60 minutes +/- Depending on Students Skill Level

Here is where the foundation begins. The first key to driver training is risk management. Professionally, we manage risk in three ways: Education, Safety Equipment (extra brakes and mirrors) and Practice Location. We always start in an open parking lot—the fewer obstacles the better—because we want to eliminate the possibility of a collision. Even at low speeds, a collision is devastating to the confidence of the new driver (not to mention the repair costs). In the parking lot, we will orient the driver to the vehicle and practice the three driver inputs: Acceleration, Braking, and Steering. In addition to foundational training exercises, we are assessing the new driver’s confidence, maturity, aptitude, and beginning skill set. This initial assessment sets the tone for all the lessons that follow, as well as the homework recommendations we will be giving to the parents. This is a great lesson for parents to ride along and accompany their new driver. Not only will you get to see your teen’s progress, you will also learn the methods we use to deliver instructions, keep the new driver calm, and enjoy the process of teaching a teen to drive.

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Safe driving is the product of safe habits, and the first habit we instill is the vehicle inspection. The driver needs to know if the vehicle is road-worthy. Are all four tires fully inflated and exhibiting a good tread depth? Is the vehicle leaking any fluids, and if so, what kind? Is anyone behind the vehicle? Are any unwelcome guests inside the car? All these questions can be answered by completing a quick walk around the vehicle.

Every time your teen gets in the car, we want her or him to SMILE. This is when we adjust the Seat position, Mirrors, and vehicle Interior, as well Locking the doors, and checking that Everybody is buckled up. These are the foundations of visual awareness and passenger protection.

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Good control begins with the driver’s hand position on the steering wheel. As new drivers, our generation learned to place the hands in a balanced position on the steering wheel at the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock hand position—but that was in the dark ages, before airbags were installed in the center of the steering wheel. Now, we are teaching 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock to reduce the risk of airbag related injuries, and we have added 8 o’clock and 4 o’clock for long distance driving. One thing that hasn’t changed is that we drive with both hand on the steering wheel. This is the foundation for good steering and lane management.

Admit it, mom and dad, you are afraid that your teen will stop the car and your forehead will hit the dashboard. Maybe you have seen the old rocket test videos where the pilots experience extreme g-forces, and you just don’t want to look like that. We know, because we feel the same way. Smooth starting and stopping skills are essential for the maintenance of the vehicle as well as the physical and emotional health of the passengers. We are going to teach your new driver to accelerate as smooth as butter and brake with the gentleness of a feather.

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For an experienced driver, turns and turn recovery are second nature. You probably don’t realize there are 7 steps to a proper turn. From signaling before the turn to accelerating out of the turn, we will cover it all. For new drivers, turns can be wide, short, or ugly, but in a parking lot, we will find all the room we need to maneuver safely and learn the proper methods for turning and turn recovery. This is the foundation for good lane management and intersection management.

Two-hand steering methods offer superior control and maneuverability. We will introduce your new driver to hand-to-hand steering (also called Push-Pull Steering) which is quicker and more natural with today’s power steering systems. We also teach hand-over-hand steering for emergencies or larger vehicle driving

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Reversing (Backing up, Backing in, Backing out) Eventually, your new driver is going to have to get out of a parking space. The parking lot is the obvious place to practice the essential skills of backing in and out of parking spots, and it is also an ideal location to practice backing for longer distances. We will teach your new driver the proper posture, steering method, and acceleration/braking techniques for this essential skill.

Mirror Management, Visual Awareness, Using Your Eyes Effectively. In virtually every system developed to help drivers avoid collisions, the first or second step is searching for potential hazards. We will teach your new driver how to SEE the road, identify problems, plan and execute safe solutions. This is the foundation for a lifetime of collision-free driving.

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Behind The Wheel Tips
Level 2
2. Level Two, Residential Streets, 60 Minutes Depending on Students Skill Level

Visual Assessments Residential streets are the perfect place to practice new driving skills. The lower speed limits, and (typically) low traffic volume allow the driver to ease into all of the habits that need to be developed. Neighborhood streets also have the most potential for collisions. So they are the perfect training ground for visual assessments. Your new driver will learn to scan the roadway, looking for pets, pedestrians, and vulnerable roadway users. We will also identify areas of greater risk, such as schools, pools, parks, and playgrounds. These visual assessments are the first step in developing strategies to reduce the risks involved with driving.

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When a hazard has been identified, a driver only has a few seconds to determine how to prevent a collision. Slow down, stop, turn around, change direction, honk the horn, flash the lights . . . what is the best plan? The answer varies according to the situation. We use real-life on-road situations to help the new driver develop and practice strategies that reduce the risk of injuring people or damaging property

What is the point of driving if you cannot get on and off the roadway? We will cover all the tips and tricks to entering and exiting traffic safely. For instance, do you know how much space you need to make a right turn onto a roadway? It’s a trick question. The space depends on the speed of the oncoming traffic, so instead of teaching a specific distance, we teach time: you need an 8 second gap in traffic to make a right turn onto a roadway

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Road signs, signals, and lane markings are all put in place to communicate important information. Shapes, colors, and symbols all have meaning. Drivers need to be able to understand that communication and react appropriately

Using the information we gather from signs, signals, and lane makings, we will identify the various types of intersections and practice the proper procedures for navigating through them. Did you know that more collisions happen at controlled intersections than at uncontrolled intersections? We will teach your driver why that happens and how to avoid being one of those statistics

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Right-of-Way Right-of-Way rules can be equated to good manners for drivers. They tell us when we should yield to other roadway users. Right-of-Way rules permeate every aspect of driving on public roads and there are specific rules for encountering intersections, emergency vehicles, funeral processions, pedestrians, expressway-lane-changes, reversible lanes, and more.

Proper Stops Are you one of those people? You know, the ones who don’t really stop at stop signs. After all, that big red sign is only a suggestion, right? Well, actually . . . Did you know that over 40% of traffic fatalities happen at intersections controlled by stop signs? * Likewise, about 70 percent of all crashes at one- and two-way stop signs involve the same basic pattern — a vehicle that's required to stop doesn't, or it stops and fails to yield, and then it collides at an angle with another vehicle going across the intersection. * We must change the way we react to stop signs, and at National Driver Training, that change begins with the way we teach our students to make proper stops. *Statistics provided by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

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Right and Left Turns Ever since the invention of the second road, people have had to learn how to negotiate turns safely. As roadways have gotten more complex, and traffic has gotten heavier, proper turns have gotten more important. We will teach your new driver all seven steps of a proper turn, and why it is important to follow them in order.

Sharing the Road Pedestrians, passenger cars, pickup trucks, parcel deliveries—all kinds of roadway users travel our neighborhood streets, and we interact with each one if different ways. In this lesson, we will introduce the concept of sharing the road and put it into practice.

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Behind The Wheel Tips
Level 3
3. Level Three, Commercial Streets, 60 Minutes Depending on Students Skill Level

Eventually, the eagle reaches a point where she must push her young out of the nest. Likewise, we cannot stay in the safe comfort of neighborhood streets forever. Level three brings your new driver out of the neighborhood and into real-world traffic situations. This is where a student learns how to get to and from school or local stores. When we have finished this lesson, your new driver is ready to become the family chauffer.

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Speed management is the act of controlling the speed of the vehicle to stay in compliance with local law (the speed limit) and maintain the flow of traffic. Up to this point, your new driver has been driving on roadways with speed limits of 30 mph or less. In this level, we will enter roadways of 35, 40, and maybe even 45 mph. The student driver will learn to accelerate smoothly to these higher speeds, and then maintain a steady speed in traffic. We will also practice smooth braking and stopping from these higher speeds.

Of all the space outside the vehicle, the driver only has control of the space to the front—the following distance from the next car ahead. Many drivers sacrifice this space, wrongly thinking they will arrive at their destination faster, or maneuver through traffic more efficiently. We teach our students to value a good following distance as the driver’s best tool for avoiding collisions because it grants the driver time to assess an emergency and maneuver (stop, steer, or both) to avoid it.

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We use the term, “sign management,” to encompass traffic signs, traffic signals, and lane markings. On roads with higher speeds and traffic volume, sign management becomes even more critical for route planning, risk reduction, and collision avoidance. This environment is likely to have more traffic signals, so we will introduce concepts such as the “stale green light,” and “point of no return.” We will also teach the proper way to use a shared center turn lane (hint, it should be used for turns, not for driving a significant distance)

Some people struggle to draw a straight line, and some drivers struggle to drive in a straight line. We will teach your new driver to use lane markings along with vehicle reference points to obtain and maintain a proper lane position. The student will also learn when it is appropriate to use alternate lane positions.

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Of all the basic maneuvers that a new driver must learn, lane changes are often feared the most because of the likelihood of drifting out of the lane unintentionally. We teach our students a four-step process to change lanes and we include a fool-proof method to keep a straight lane position while checking to see if it is safe to merge

Commercial streets offer our first opportunity to introduce parallel parking. After about 15 minutes in a parking lot, your new driver should be able to parallel park within the lines of a standard curbside parking space.

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Behind The Wheel Tips
Level 4
4. Level Four, Avenues and Boulevards, 60 Minutes Depending on Student Skill Level

The first three levels focus on introducing and mastering the basic skills of driving. In Level 4, we take everything we have learned and put it into practice in real-world scenarios on avenues and boulevards with moderate to heavy traffic and speed limits up to 55 mph.

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Speed management becomes more crucial as we travel roadways with higher speeds and higher traffic volume. The student driver will learn to accelerate smoothly to these higher speeds, and then maintain a steady speed in traffic. We will also practice smooth braking and stopping from these higher speeds.

In the session 3, we focused on the three-second rule of thumb for following distance. In the final sessions, we will continue to practice good following distance and look for indicators that we should increase the following distance.

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On roads with higher speeds and traffic volume, sign management becomes even more critical for route planning, risk reduction, and collision avoidance. At higher speeds, we need to look farther ahead and recognize signs, signals, and markings sooner.

Lane management requires visual attention to our vehicle reference points as well as small adjustments to the steering wheel to keep the vehicle properly positioned within the lane. At higher speeds, these small adjustments have a greater effect on the lane position, so we will practice “micro-adjustments” that provide smooth and appropriate lane management.

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Lane changes at low speeds with light traffic are easy, but we will not always have perfect conditions for when we need to change lanes. In this session, we will practice lane changes at higher speeds and traffic. We will learn how to effectively communicate with other drivers, how to adjust speed and lane position to successfully change lanes in traffic, and how to get back on our intended path of travel if we miss a necessary lane change or turn.

Behind The Wheel Tips
Level 5
5. Level Five, Highways, 60 Minutes Depending on Student Skill Level

Wherever you want to go in Texas, you can get there on a highway. Rural highways are high risk environments because they are often two-lane roads with high speed limits and no median separating opposing traffic directions. Unlike residential streets, where a low speed collision may result in a dented bumper, on highways, a high speed collision may result in a fatality. It is essential for new Texas drivers to learn safe driving practices for highways.

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As a highway enters a town or city, the speed limit will lower to accommodate local traffic. Highway drivers need to be prepared to adjust speed and they need to know how to do it properly. This is one of the skills we will work on in highway driving.

In previous sessions, we focused on the three-second rule of thumb for following distance. In the final sessions, we will continue to practice good following distance and look for indicators that we should increase the following distance.

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On roads with higher speeds and traffic volume, sign management becomes even more critical for route planning, risk reduction, and collision avoidance. At higher speeds, we need to look farther ahead and recognize signs, signals, and markings sooner.

Lane management requires visual attention to our vehicle reference points as well as small adjustments to the steering wheel to keep the vehicle properly positioned within the lane. At higher speeds, these small adjustments have a greater effect on the lane position, so we will practice “micro-adjustments” that provide smooth and appropriate lane management.

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Entering traffic on a highway can be a daunting task. In addition to practicing our timed gaps to enter traffic, we will also practice good route planning and use controlled intersections when they are available

Lane management requires visual attention to our vehicle reference points as well as small adjustments to the steering wheel to keep the vehicle properly positioned within the lane. At higher speeds, these small adjustments have a greater effect on the lane position, so we will practice “micro-adjustments” that provide smooth and appropriate lane management.

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Tractor trailers, over-sized loads, and construction vehicles, oh my—highways will introduce us to larger vehicles and (in some cases) more aggressive drivers. In this lesson, we will expand our idea of sharing the road to accommodate traffic that we find on intra-state and interstate roadways.

Behind The Wheel Tips
Level 6
6. Level Six, Expressway Entry/Exit, 60 to 90 Minutes Depending on Student Skill Level

Wherever you want to go in Texas, you can get there on a highway. Rural highways are high risk environments because they are often two-lane roads with high speed limits and no median separating opposing traffic directions. Unlike residential streets, where a low speed collision may result in a dented bumper, on highways, a high speed collision may result in a fatality. It is essential for new Texas drivers to learn safe driving practices for highways.

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Expressways offer an advantage of higher speeds because they have controlled access and they don’t have intersections. At higher speeds, drivers have less time to make critical decisions and small steering adjustments can move the car more than the driver expects. In this lesson, we will identify strategies to manage these and other risks of driving at higher speeds. Technology can help manage speed on expressways, so we will teach the new driver how to use cruise control. We will also identify the phenomenon of velocitation and show the new driver how to overcome it.

expressway speeds to drop as traffic increases. In these situations, proper following distance is crucial to prevent a multi-car pile-ups

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On roads with higher speeds and traffic volume, sign management becomes even more critical for route planning, risk reduction, and collision avoidance. At higher speeds, we need to look farther ahead and recognize signs, signals, and markings sooner.

A minor steering adjustment or a moment of inattention at expressway speeds can send a car out entirely out of its lane. We will use old-school tricks and modern technology to teach the new driver how to maintain good lane positioning.

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While the basic steps of lane changing are the same, on the expressway, lane changes also have special right-of-way rules. The new driver will practice lane changes on the expressway and demonstrate an understanding of the special conditions that come into play.

Tractor trailers, oversized loads, and construction vehicles, oh my—highways will introduce us to larger vehicles and (in some cases) more aggressive drivers. In this lesson, we will expand our idea of sharing the road to accommodate traffic that we find on intra-state and interstate roadway

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Behind The Wheel Tips
Level 7
7. Level Seven, Final Review, Skills Polishing, and Driving Assessment, 30 to 60 Minutes Depending on Student Skill Level

The last two sessions have stretched the student. It is time to go back to the local roads that the new driver will be using on a regular basis and assess how well the fundamental skills have been incorporated into driving habits.

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We go back to the basics and look at all of the standard maneuvers—right turns, left turns, stop intersections, through intersections, and lane changes in traffic. We are looking at these maneuvers with an eye for detail to see if the new driver is stopping properly with respect to the stop line, maintaining proper hand position, scanning the entire roadway, and all of the other fundamentals. We will identify maneuvers that need improvement and provide guidance for the remaining parent-supervised practice hours.

It is time to go back to the parking lot and set up some cones to review parallel parking. If the opportunity is available, we will park in an actual parallel parking space, or practice the maneuver at an official test location.

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