How to Drive a Car – Starting and Stopping Smoothly
An important skill as teens learn how to drive a car is starting and stopping smoothly. Sudden starts or stops can be dangerous. You may loose control of your car or other vehicles may hit you. Learning how to drive a car is also learning how to interact with other cars so you don’t hit them and they don’t hit you. Sudden acceleration may hit the car in front of you. Sudden stops may cause the car behind to crash into you. Driving a car involves many starts and stops and you need to practice doing them properly.
Read through this entire section before you get started driving a car.
The Parking Brake
Most people rarely use their parking brake. They reserve it for when they’re parked on steep inclines or need extra stopping power. However, it’s still a good idea to check that the brake isn’t on before you try to move the car – especially if you weren’t the last one who drove it.
You don’t have to touch the gas pedal to make the car move. Really!
Before you start the car: Locate the gas pedal and the brake pedal. Put your foot in position with your heel on the floor so you can swivel back and forth between the gas and the brake comfortably.
Make sure the car is in PARK. Now start the car. With your foot on the brake, put the car in ‘Drive’. Slowly lift your foot off the brake. Do not give the car any gas. The car will move forward slowly.
This will be all the speed you need for some maneuvers. Hover your foot over the brake in case you need to stop suddenly. Lift it slowly off the brake to start moving again. You can practice as you learn to drive in an open parking lot.
Repeat the same maneuver in ‘Reverse.’ This slow speed is all the speed you’ll need for backing up in many cases. Don’t forget to walk around behind the vehicle before you back up.
It’s important to be able to stop smoothly when driving a car. When you brake, you use your right foot. That’s the same foot you use for the gas. Your heel should be on the floor so you can swivel your foot easily between the gas and the brake.
To be able to learn how to drive a car safely you need to practice starting and stopping until you get the feel for the gas and brake pedals and can apply pressure evenly. Then give the car a little gas and watch the speedometer to see how fast you’re moving.
Practice on a quiet street or an empty parking lot. Make this a part of your Learn to Drive checklist. Look for more information in the Driving Lessons sections of the Workbook and the Video Library. See Driving Lesson 1.
When you’re driving, your eyes will be moving constantly between your mirrors and the road ahead. You’ll also need to keep an eye on how fast you are going so get in the habit of glancing at your speedometer often.
Continue to increase your speed until you can stop and start smoothly at low speeds. This is the kind of starting and stopping you’ll be doing most of the time – smooth and controlled. But sometimes you’ll need to stop suddenly and that takes additional skill.
Watch the video to give you additional insight into starting and stopping when driving a car.