Sunday, December 28, 2014

Experiences With Driving

It's been about a month since I've gotten my learner's permit, so I figured I should share some of my first impressions of driving with you guys. All the basics lessons still apply, like pay attention, stay focused, don't text and drive, and wear a seatbelt. But, I've learned a few things.

First, when one first starts driving, they tend to sway to the right. This is because most teenagers aren't used to being on the left side of the car and aren't properly "calibrated" for this new position.

Next, the hardest part of driving can be backing out of your own driveway. When I back out of my driveway, there are a few hazards I have to worry about. Other cars, other people, kids and pets in the street, the car parked in the street, and making sure I'm in reverse. On top of the fact that I have to put some attention to steering the car, this can be quite a hectic situation.

Finally, I've learned to know that I will make mistakes. Let's say you don't do something right during driving. The car behind you honks and you get embarrassed, stop focusing on the road, and start focusing on what just happened. The next thing you know, you're half-way out of your lane. Yeah. New drivers need to know that they're gonna make mistakes and that people around them will be considerate. This is probably the most important lesson I've learned so far that hasn't been taught in driver's ed.

I hope this helps people who recently started driving and I wish you a happy new year!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Emergency First Aid Kit

In case you're ever in an accident, you should be prepared. Be sure to always have an emergency kit in your trunk. Here are some essentials:

  • Flares
  • First Aid Kit
  • Water
    • Keep it in glass, not plastic
  • Gloves
  • 2 Quarts of Oil
  • Flashlight
  • Blanket
  • Brake Fluid
  • Jumper Cables
  • Tire Inflator
    • Tire Pressure Gauge While You're At It
  • Rags or T-Shirt
  • Funnel
  • Paper Towels
  • Pocketknife
Always be prepared! You never know what will happen on the road!

Sunday, December 14, 2014


'Tis the season as the cool kids say. As the rainy days come for many cities across the country, hydroplaning is one of the burdens that come with the rain. This typically occurs when water on a road renders your inputs to the car useless. As a result, your car is essentially like one of those teacup rides at Disneyland as your only useful tool is your steering wheel. Just steer your car if hydroplaning occurs. Don't use the gas or your brakes. It should be noted that vehicles hydroplane at speeds over 53 mph. It should also be noted that all-wheel drive vehicles are less likely to hydroplane. Check out this video by Defensive Driving for a good explanation on hydroplaning.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Auto Insurance Discounts for Good Students

Statistics show that students with a 3.0 GPA or higher are less likely to get into a car crash. Insurance companies acknowledge that by lowering your insurance rate. How can you get in on this? You just need to meet the prerequisites. You must:
  • be younger than 25 years old
  • be enrolled in a high school, college, or university
  • have at least a B average (3.0+ GPA), be on the honor roll, or be on the Dean's List
  • turn in your proof of good performance
A report card or letter signed by an administrator is considered proof of good performance. 

Remember that auto insurance rates typically double when a teenager starts driving because they are considered a liability. Doing well at school can help ease the burden of this insurance cost. Also, different states, schooling techniques (e.g. home schooling), and insurance companies may have different policies regarding this discount. Be sure to check in with them before applying for the discount.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Behind-The-Wheel Training

Yesterday, I completed my first lesson of behind-the-wheel training. This essentially means you can drive with an adult over the age of 25 who is licensed. It was two hours of getting acquainted with your vehicle and the road. I must say, once you're on the road, it is quite the rush. It's a lot of fun. If you're looking for a driving school in the San Diego area, check out American Driving Schools. Anyways, you're gonna have to log your driving time somewhere. You'll have to accumulate 50 hours of supervised driving.

Me and My Driving Instructor, Michael Manzi

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Learner's Permit

On Friday, I went to my local DMV, took the test, and got my learner's permit. Here's what I've learned from this experience:

Picking the Right DMV

I went to a relatively new DMV. As a result, the people there were significantly nicer than those you see on TV. In addition, the test is all digital. I'm pretty sure that isn't available at most DMVs. I also got to smile for my permit license. It came out pretty good.

Taking the Permit Test

You should know general stuff for this test. Important things to note include maximum legal limit of blood alcohol content for people both under and over the age of 21 (They're different; 0.01% under 21; 0.08% over 21). You should know general speed limits and penalties for illegal actions (Such as abandoning an animal on the road). Otherwise, it is (hopefully) common sense. The red octagon is a stop sign. The answer is usually the safest decision and is fairly obvious most of the time. On digital tests, it will tell you if you got a question wrong as soon as you get it wrong and what the correct answer is. 

Anyways, that's my story. I won't be able to drive until my behind-the-wheel training, but until then, have a great Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

How To Fill Up At A Gas Station

Although it seems like a fairly simple process, filling up at a gas station takes a bit of getting used to. Here's a quick, easy tutorial on how to get gas at a gas station.

Know Your Car

You should know two things about your car before filling up at a gas station. First, you should know what type of gas it takes. Normal, slightly-better normal, premium, or diesel? The other thing you should know is which side of your car the gas tank is on. There is nothing more embarrassing than forgetting which side the gas tank is on.

Pay, Choose, and Pump

First, turn off your car and walk out to the self-service station. Insert a credit card (or a gas card, which will become your new favorite birthday present) into the credit card terminal. Don't forget to choose a grade of fuel. Take off the gas cap and insert the nozzle. Pull on the lever of the pump until it clicks.

Annoying Safety Regulations

Cue annoying safety video music! According to crazy regulations, you should turn your phone off whenever near a gas station. Also, you're not supposed to get back into your car because static electricity can start a fire. 

Finishing the Job

Shake the nozzle in your tank to get every last drop in your tank. Be sure to take out the nozzle before driving away! Remember when I said that there was nothing more embarrassing than forgetting which side the gas tank is on? Well, I lied. There is nothing more embarrassing than driving away with the nozzle still in your car. So many bad things can happen from that. Newer gas stations typically have a different gas hose that prevent those "bad things" from happening. Also, be sure to put back on the gas cap. 

And that's how to fill up at a gas station in a nutshell! I hope this helps! 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Registration Fee Calculator

Registration is something many people don't think of when they think about driving. But, they need to know how much registration fees costs. Luckily, I found a cool tool that can quickly calculate the price of a registration fee for a variety of vehicles.

In essence, all you have to do is input your vehicle, purchase, and residency information. Then, click the "Calculate Fees" button. You'll get a chart of all the costs of a registration fee. It can really add up based on what you put in.

It's a good thing to know this. It can make the difference of you buying a used car instead of a new car. Yes, there are different rates for used and new cars. There are also different rates for out-of-state cars and different types of fuel. Experiment around with this. It can help you find a car within your budget. I hope this helps!

Sunday, November 2, 2014


Today's post is about #X (Kudos to AT&T for making it up). Basically iPhones and Androids have the ability to change small pieces of text instantly into a larger text. It's like spellcheck. The idea is that when you get into your car, you text anyone who might text you while driving #X. This will autocorrect to "Can't talk now. Driving…" or something along those lines. That way, you can drive without having to worry about someone texting you unless it's an emergency. 

Here's how to set it up:

On iPhone
Just open the Settings app and go to General > Keyboard > Add New Shortcut. For Phrase, type something that tells the recipient that you're driving and can't respond to text messages for a little while. For shortcut, type "Can't talk now. Driving…" (or something else if it's too hard to type a hashtag). Then, hit save.

On Android
Once again, open Settings and go to Language & input > Personal dictionary and find the "+" icon in the Action Bar (top right corner). For the long phrase, type something that tells the recipient that you're driving and can't respond to text messages for a little while. For shortcut, type "#X". Then, hit the back button.

After you've set it up, test it out by typing "#X" in any text field. It should turn into something along the lines of "Can't talk now. Driving…" Whenever you are texting someone and are about to drive, just type #X. That way, you can drive safely in a quick and easy way.

On iOS
On Android

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Making an Appointment at the DMV for Your Permit Test

Today, I'd like to make a little update on my progress in the "Roadway to my Driver's License". I have scheduled my appointment for my permit test at the DMV. I did this about a month before I turn fifteen and a half. This is the appointment where you will take your permit test, get your permit, and get your eternal fear of the DMV. Here's what you need to know:

How to Make Your Appointment

What You'll Need

  • To be at least 15 ½, while under 18
  • To have taken driver's ed
    • Your DL 44 from driver's ed
      • Your social security number on the DL 44
      • Both parents' or guardians' signature on the DL 44
  • Your original birth certificate

What You'll Do

  • Give a thumb print
  • Have your picture taken
    • Good luck. No do overs!
  • Pay an application fee
  • Pass a vision exam
  • Take a traffic laws and sign test
Anyways, about a month before you plan to get your permit, you should schedule your appointment. Study up on test material before your test. In addition, be sure you have your DL 44 still. It should also be noted that you won't be able to drive with your permit without taking two hours of behind-the-wheel training after your permit test. In addition, you can't drive without a licensed driver over the age of twenty-five. That's your next step to your driver's license!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Texting and Driving Simulator

With texting and driving becoming a quickly escalating issue, you might wonder, "What is texting and driving really like?" Well, some folks at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute have teamed up with AT&T to create the Texting and Driving Simulator! It uses your phone as- well, your phone and your computer screen as your car window. You drive using your keyboard and attempt to get as far as possible while not crashing.

Sounds pretty easy, right? Well, there's another twist. Throughout the drive, you'll receive text messages from various (programmed) people. At the same time, you must regulate speed, pay attention to traffic signals, look out for other cars, and follow your GPS.

Not so easy now, is it? This simulation is a true eye-opener. It shows just how hard texting and driving really is. After you've crashed, a text message will appear with about a paragraph of text. It's a story of someone who had their life taken away or crucially injured because of texting and driving. It truly does show how a few letters can change your life forever.

Now it's your turn to get behind the keyboard. To get started, head on over to and get out your phone. Click the green "Start Simulator" button and type in your email. Then, on your phone, find the email, and click the link inside of it. This syncs your computer to your phone so you can receive text messages while driving. Be sure to have your volume up. Then, hit the road with your keyboard!

Now that you've played it, what do you think? Does this show you how hard texting while driving is? Does it make you rethink what texting and driving is? I hope so...

I hope you've learned about the dangers of texting and driving. Don't think of the simulator as a game, but as a lesson. If you need to send a text message pull over. Remember, you're not just endangering yourself when you text and drive, but you're endangering your passengers, any pedestrians, and drivers around you.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Tim Boice

When you think of a driver's ed instructor, what kind of person do you think of? Not a quadriplegic. Do you remember the name of your driver's ed teacher? Did he/she make an impact on you? I didn't think so. Tim Boice is a different driver's ed teacher because he had to go through a traumatic, life-changing experience. He puts an impact on his students and gives them a "reverential fear of the road." This is his story...

The year was 1981. Just after 16 year-old Tim Boice had gotten his driver's license, he went to a Chargers game with his friend (who was the driver) in VW Bug (Remember those?). On the way back, they got into a rollover crash. The thing was, Tim wasn't even wearing a seatbelt. In an instant, his whole life was changed forever. It left him a quadriplegic. He couldn't run, walk, or ride a bike.

The aftermath was pretty bad. He couldn't go to school for the rest of the school year and had a tutor to teach him instead. Combine the tutor with Tim's hospital bills and his wheelchair and you'll find his father working super hard just to pay them off. His mother had to stop everything that she did to take care of Tim.

Thirty-three years later, Tim is still unable to walk. He has spent much more than half of his life in a wheelchair. He teaches today's drivers the mistake he made in the past and how such as simple decision changed his life. 

He can still drive using his modified Dodge Caravan. He uses an automated ramp to get into it, then drives his wheelchair where the driver's seat would be, where the wheelchair is locked into place. He uses a variety of levers to drive the vehicle. One of the levers controls the gas and brakes, while another turns the key. Unfortunately, he needs somebody else to fill up his tank at a gas station.

I had Tim Boice as a driver's ed instructor a few months back and he has left a lasting impact on me. In fifty years, I will probably be able to recall his name. I will be able to tell what he has taught me. Most importantly, I will be able to remember the mistake he made when he was young and know not to make the same mistake. Thank you Mr. Boice!

Image Credit: ISSUU

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Consequences: Unlicensed Driving

Many of the accidents that occur today while driving are completely preventable. And by preventable, I'm not talking about using better reflexes or hitting the brakes at the wrong time. I'm talking about decisions. The reason why I am picking this story is because it happened last week. That's how often and relevant these things are. So before you say "I'd never do something as crazy as these kids" just remember, they probably said the same thing too at one point. Each car crash that occurs in the real world has it's own story. Just as an FYI, this is pretty sad and deep.

Today, I'm going to talk about the story of a unlicensed teenage boy. He was an average 16 year old. Like any of us, he has his own life, stories, passions, dreams, desires, friends, and family.

So did his five friends...

One Friday night, he took his friends out to an amusement park. He drove them, being the oldest of the group. They stayed up past midnight and left at 2 in the morning.

Fatigued and with little experience on the road, the teen driver couldn't concentrate very well. He ended up crashing his car and it burst into flames. The unlicensed driver managed to escape, but his five friends were killed and burned beyond recognition.

In an instant, five lives were ended because of the actions of one. It was completely preventable. Now, the driver has to live the rest of his life knowing that he killed five of his best friends.

Where did he go wrong? From the very beginning, you shouldn't drive without a driver's license. Even so, in the first year of having a license, you aren't allowed to drive anyone else without someone over age of 25 (who is also licensed). In addition, you aren't allowed to drive between the hours of 11 PM and 5 AM. The other mistake was having 6 people in a car with only 5 seat belts. This all could have been prevented by having an adult driver, like his parents.

This story is based on a real story that happened last week. Out of consideration for the friends and families of the victims, I haven't used any names. If you'd like to view the tragic real story, follow this link.

My condolences to the friends and families of the victims of this terrible crash. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Driver's Ed: Classroom vs. Online

Driver's ed is the first step you take towards getting your license. Once you're 15 years old (but not older than 18 years), you can take driver's ed. The question is: Should you take the classroom course or the online course? Many people will tell you both ways, but which should you pick? Let's look at the differences.

Classroom Course

The classroom course consists of about 30 hours of combined classroom time. One nice thing about the classroom course is that it's prescheduled, which means you really don't have a choice but to go. As strange as that sounds, it's useful. In an online course, you go at your own schedule. That tends to having teenagers put it off and essentially have their driver's ed course take 5 months to complete. Another pro for the classroom is that you can take it with your friends. That makes the process a bit more fun. There's much more interaction in the classroom as well. Many studies also show that classroom training has better outcomes with better, safer drivers.

Online Course

The online course also consists of about 30 hours of combined time. When taking the online course, you do it at your own leisure and at your own pace. That means you don't miss sports practice or anything like that. However, like I said earlier, you need to not put it off. You must commit to a schedule. On the other side, the online course is material-based, not time-based. Essentially, that means that the classroom course could just be 30 hours of sleeping in class. The online course focuses on understanding the material. In addition, you'll save about 50% on the online course compared to the classroom course.

The Final Word

Taking the classroom or online course all depends on what kind of learner you are. If you're studious, flexible, and always pay attention, you should take the classroom course. However, if you need to go at your own pace (and you're committed), you should take the online course. Personally, I took the classroom course and I survived. In fact, I learned other things besides driving and more things about life from a really good teacher, Mr. Boice. (More on him later.) My schedule went like this: 8 o'clock to 3:15 every day for four days (with about an hour everyday for a break). Anyways, it all depends on how you learn. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Welcome to Roadway to my Driver's License! On this blog, I will talk about the process of getting a driver's license from my teenage perspective and will post to this blog with updates at least once a week. In addition to that, I will give tips and tell you about some cool tools that can be used for learning how to drive. This can range from anything from the topic of texting-and-driving to cool technology to make you a better driver.

Currently, I am 15 years old and I will be 15½ this November. I will turn 16 years old in May of 2015. I have already taken classroom driver's ed. That being said, I have not taken any behind-the-wheel lessons yet. I'm looking forward to taking those soon.

In a nutshell, this blog will focus on the requirements to get a California Driver's License. First up, classroom driver's ed, getting a learner's permit, followed by behind-the-wheel lessons. Then, you have a half-year to complete a brief 50 hours of driving with a licensed adult over the age of 25. 10 of those hours being at night. Finally, taking a trip to the most dreaded place on Earth, the DMV! This is where you finally get your license and get your photo taken (Don't blink!). That's a big nutshell! Have fun with that!

My inspiration for this blog, apart from it being my year-long Honors English assignment, is that there doesn't seem to be any blogs on the internet that tells the story of getting a license as it unfolds from a teenager's perspective. The closest things to that are driving school blogs, auto insurance company blogs, and even a blog from a parent who lost his teenage son in an auto accident. But nobody had a blog told by a teenager.

I want to change that...

That's why I am writing this blog, to help fellow teenagers understand what they have to do to get on the road. Look out world!