Updated: Oct 6, 2021
First Time Driver
This curriculum is based on the NJ drivers manual and the collective experience of our driving instructors. Our goal as a driving school is to provide the best possible education for our students. The curriculum is broken down into two sections. The first section addresses the prerequisites to driving like how to use your headlights, while the second section covers the driving skill and the theory to be applied while driving.
Objectives: -Effectively cover all driving fundamentals and skills needed to navigate the road.
-Help student drivers understand their responsibilities as a driver on the road.
-Effectively cover all NJ road laws and driver/passenger requirements.
-Pick up good driving habits that create the foundation for a lifetime of safe driving.
Drivers are responsible for their passengers’ safety, vehicle condition, and driving skills. Motorists owe it to their passengers and fellow drivers that they safely operate the vehicle and follow all road laws. Remember that Driving is a privilege, not a right, and this privilege comes with a lot of responsibility.
Safe driving is the responsibility of all individuals who operate a vehicle on New Jersey roads. The rules of the road must be always obeyed, and laws must be strictly followed. A motorist must ensure the safety of all passengers who are riding in his/her vehicle and be mindful of the other motorists who share the road each day. (2021 NJ Driver Manual, 40)
Seat Belts: The drivers, front-seat passengers, and all children must wear a seatbelt, failure to do so is a violation of NJ Seat Belt Law.
Car Seats: It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that all children under age 2 or who weigh less than 30 lbs ride in a federal-approved five-point harness car seat. All children under 8 years of age must ride in the rear seats. A booster seat will be needed if the car has only 2 seats.
Vehicle Operation/Condition/Apparatus/: Drivers must ensure that all technical machinery and essential vehicle equipment work properly. The driver must also ensure that they’re effectively and safely operating the vehicle.
Seat and Posture: The seat must be adjusted so that the driver can see all mirrors, reach all pedals, and grip the wheel firmly.
Hand Position: Both hands should be on the wheel at all times, except when shifting gears or using hand signals.
Mirrors: All car mirrors should be in working condition and the field of view should not be obstructed by damage or dirt. The driver needs to adjust their mirrors to allow the best field of view.
Back-Up Lights: When driving in reverse backup lights should always be on.
Brakes: Brakes must work smoothly and quickly.
Brake Lights, Tail Lights, and Turn Lights: Brake/Tail/Turn lights must be fully operational, as they serve to signal vital information to the drivers around you.
Headlights: The driver’s horn should be operational and only used when needed.
Steering: Drivers' vehicles should be able to hold a straight course without assistance.
Windshield: Drivers must ensure there are no obstacles or damage on the windshield. The driver’s field of view must be completely clear.
Snow/Ice: It is the vehicle owner’s responsibility to remove all snow and ice before driving. When at high speeds ice/snow residue can become a dangerous projectile.
We recommend that all new drivers go through a checklist before driving. Refer to page 46 of the NJ Driver's manual
A thorough understanding of driving maneuvers, mechanics, and macros is essential for navigating the road safely. Before you can be licensed you must demonstrate safe driving skills. These skills can be built by studying driving theory and practicing in controlled environments.
Following Distance: Drivers should be able to perceive and adjust their distance as they follow cars. The NJ drivers manual advises that you add an additional 20 feet of distance for every 20 MPH.
Signaling Intent: The driver needs to signal their intent when they’re turning, changing lanes, slowing down, or stopping.
Driving in Reverse: Before driving in reverse a motorist must check all mirrors and blind spots, then turn to see what is behind without the use of a mirror.
Turns, K-Turns, and U-Turns: The driver must be able to make turns correctly, by first checking mirrors/blindspots and then smoothly executing the turn without crossing into other lanes.
Speed Control: The driver must know what the speed limit is at all times and not exceed the speed limit by more than 5MPH. Motorists should also know when to slow down, like when you’re approaching a curve.
Passing/Merging: Driver’s should understand when it is safe and legal to pass/merge into another lane.
Yielding: Drivers need to yield to emergency vehicles, trains, school buses, ice cream trucks, and pedestrians.
Navigating Intersections/Traffic Circles: The driver should understand what intersection/traffic circles are and how to safely navigate and yield to oncoming traffic.
Entering/Leaving Highways: Even though drivers won’t be tested on this, it is still important to understand how to navigate highway entrances and exits.