The DMV Road Exam: A Test for Success

By Isabella Dail:

In my experience, I have encountered numerous tests. I have battled through PSATs, crammed novels into my head for finals, and circled a random litany of answers on my impossibly difficult physics tests. But none of these tests prepared me for the most daunting exam of them all: the DMV road test.

This all-encompassing saga begins with the infamous written test, which poses far more detailed queries than the acceleration of a pulley-system hanging off an inclined plane. What is a stop sign? How do I buckle my seatbelt? What is a car? I struggled endlessly with these existential questions, attempting to grasp the essence of the car. Luckily, by a stroke of fortune, I just passed the written exam, unlocking my eligibility for the next step. After months of practicing turning my car on and off in the driveway, I was finally ready for the culminating exam: the road test.

The road test is a complex, detailed obstacle course that lasts five whole minutes in a parking lot (after waiting in line for over an hour, of course). This test is a benchmark for success. All drivers who pass could likely become professional race car drivers. Those who fail should seriously consider public transportation.

To prove my newly acquired road skills, I have decided to carefully explain how each of the skills I passed on the road test has prepared me for any scenario:

  1. Turning on the car: This skill is essential when you’ve lost control and are hydroplaning down an icy Route 4 during rush hour. Any skilled driver knows that cars are terrified of skidding, so they shut down entirely when confronted with a slick surface. To gain control of the vehicle and expertly handle the situation, turn on the ignition (To be honest, I’m not entirely sure which way the key turns to start the car. Pro tip: I just aggressively shake it back and forth in the ignition until the car revs to life.) The car will instantly correct itself, grind its tires into the ice, and regain control instantaneously.

  2. Speed limits: Because of the DMV, I have learned that speed limits are essential and quite simple to understand. Whenever you see a speed limit on the road, you must be traveling above the number listed for optimum safety. (A solid 55-60 miles above the listed “limit” is standard.) This skill is especially helpful in a car chase. If you find yourself escaping some raging enemy on the road, the speed “limits” are your friend.

  3. Braking: A common misconception is that stop signs are a signal for you to brake. Once I finally figured out what stop signs were (thanks to my written exam), I saw them in an entirely new way. Stop signs are actually encouragements for you to move at a quicker rate. This also applies to red lights. In fact, both are red in color to stir a fiery road rage within the driver, inciting them to gun the gas. Braking, on the other hand, is most helpful on the highway. Upon exiting the highway, the DMV recommends slamming the brakes to a complete stop, signaling, looking in the mirrors and blind spots at the pileup behind you, and then turning onto the exit ramp. It’s truly a recipe for success.

  4. Turning left and right: Many people would argue that turning left and right are helpful when confronted with a dead-end, T-junction, or any road construction that abrupt ends. In those instances, (as a person who did pass their road test) I would actually recommend slamming my brakes as hard I as possible. This is much more effective and safer for society. (See above on braking). Turning has a much more versatile use than simply changing direction: it helps preserve our ecosystem. Next time you see a squirrel on the road in front of you, signal, check your mirrors and blind spots, and then swerve a hard left into oncoming traffic around the animal. This will showcase your driving skills and save a creature’s life. I especially suggest using this tactic on a double yellow road, the safest place to move into the opposite lane.

  5. K-Turns: Recently, I have heard the heinous rumor that K-turns are for “turning around.” As all licensed drivers know, turning around is much easier than that. Simply signal, brake, and put the car in neutral (There is a common misconception that, upon exiting the car, you should turn the car into its “off” setting. However, in reality, is extremely dangerous to the environment. Put the car into “neutral” to avoid idling.) Then, get out of the car, lift the car up, and rotate its position yourself. The K-turn, in contrast, is a more intricate skill. Full mastery of the K-turn is designed to present drivers with a potential career option: figure skating. Although uncommonly known, the DMV wants its drivers to be skilled in multiple fields. The turning radius of a K-turn emulates the angular rotation required to complete a triple-axle, a figure skating skill commonly seen in the Olympics. That’s right, you could be in the Olympics.

  6. Parallel parking: This skill is genuinely useless, along with driving on the highway, driving at night, driving in a pedestrian area, driving a rental car, driving in general. See, I’ve never done any of those things, and I can proudly say that I’m a licensed driver.

So there you have it, all the skills and implications of the road test. Next time, I’ll be writing a remix of Olivia Rodrigo’s song “Driver’s License” about the paperwork involved with obtaining your actual license card at the DMV. (Hint: it’s a lot more work than you’d think.)