When I took driver's ed last year, I spent months in class and in a car learning the rules of the road. Even though most people say driver's ed taught them all they know to be safe on the road, they never tell you what happens to you if your car needs repairs, if there are dangerous drivers on the road, if you get pulled over or if you get in an accident. At least they could teach you how to handle dangerous weather. Here are four items that impact your driving:

1. It's always your fault. In driver's ed, instructors teach you the rules of the road and the meaning of certain signs and street lanes, but what they usually don't tell you is how to deal with an accident and what happens next. Your emotions are high and it's easy to blame others. "Why did I leave home so early?" "Why didn't I take a different street?" So in the end whether you hit them or they hit you, you can't help but have the feeling that it's your fault. It may be, but be responsible for your actions and always keep your eyes on the road.

2. Speeding is speeding. One of the most used reasons as to why someone was speeding is "I was just keeping up with traffic." Driver's ed teaches its students to obey the speed limit at all costs, but it doesn't teach students how to deal with fast drivers in traffic. What happens when everyone around you is going 10 miles over the speed limit? Should you be the car slowing up traffic or should you speed up to meet the needs of other motorists. The answer is to stay within the speed limit (in the low-speed lane, if possible). Let others get the tickets.

3. The difference between aggressive driving and road rage. Aggressive driving is following too closely, speeding, unsafe lane changes, failing to signal before changing lanes and other forms of inconsiderate driving. These actions put the rest of us at risk, too.

Road rage, on the other hand, is a criminal offense. This occurs when hand gestures are overly used to indicate one's displeasure with other drivers. In some cases these incidents escalate into far more serious situations. Often, the roadway incident that caused the person to become enraged may have been something quite simple and even trivial. Some incidents are intentional such as when a motorist switches from lane to lane in an effort to go around other vehicles.

Be a courteous driver.

4. When your car needs repairs. This is such a huge part of being a driver. Most people dread having to take their car in for repairs.

The owner's manual in your glove box is the bible for your car. It can tell you more than how to change the radio station. It will tell you when you need to change your oil, replace spark plugs, check your coolant and other major and minor maintenance. If you haven't looked in it or never looked at it -- it's worth the time and money knowing what your car needs and getting it done at the right time.

Always use an ASE certified technician because they are trained and tested. Look for a blue seal on the front of the shop; it tells you that ASE technicians work there. Look for a master technician that is ASE certified and you'll be in great hands.


Paul Fix III is a junior at Park School.