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When it comes to driving training, studying hard and paying close attention will get you a good grade, but more importantly, they could save your life. The more behind-the-wheel experience you get, and the more attention you pay during class, the better. Not just for you, but for everyone with whom you share the road.
Learning safe driving practices should take precedence over goofing off with your buddies. So if you think your friends will distract you from focusing on the course material, well, you might consider not signing up for a class with them.
More than 300 Mississippi schools offer driver's education to students in grades 9 through 12. This course gives you 30 hours of classroom instruction and a minimum of six hours of behind-the-wheel experience. In addition, you will observe your classmates as they get into the driver seat for 12 hours.
As a teen driver under 18 years old, you will need to submit a Certificate of Attendance from your school before applying for your driver's license. Check with your school office for this form.
Driving schools are available throughout the state for adults as well. Some of the schools are specifically for truck drivers, others are defensive driving courses for beginners and drivers who have a court-order to attend because of DUI or other driving-related offenses.
Here's a little friendly advice for new drivers from someone who's been there. They don't teach you everything in school!
- Don't order mega-size drinks at the drive-through. They tip over in the drink holders when you turn or stop, and if you hold the drink between your legs for stability, then you can't operate the floor pedals.
- Don't try to eat a sandwich or burger while you're driving. The mayonnaise-covered tomatoes will fall into your lap and you'll have to make a snap decision between swerving to the curb (bad) or leaving the grease stain on your jeans (bad).
- Don't make or receive calls on your cell phone while you are driving. Same goes for applying makeup while driving: just don't!
- Don't -- under any circumstances -- send a text message when you're at the wheel. The police officer won't be sympathetic when you explain that you absolutely, positively could not wait until you pulled off the road to text "c u soon" to your best friend, so instead you rear-ended someone while your eyes and thumbs were busy on the keypad.
- Don't be lame and give in to peer pressure. If some nimrod in the back seat says, "How fast can this thing go?" ignore them―they're not the one who will get busted or cause an accident. Someone in the car has to be the grown-up: you.
- Don't panic and jump out of the car if you notice a bee on the inside of the windshield. Ever seen your car roll down the street without a driver? You don't want to.
- Do wear your seatbelt every time you get into a car, even for a short ride. Something as common as stopping suddenly to avoid a cat darting across the street can cause your face to meet your steering wheel. The results won't be pretty, and your prom date will find an excuse to back out.
- Do be vigilant for other drivers who are not as with it as you are, and keep your distance. You never know when they will decide to enter your space (since they won't bother to signal), and the element of surprise isn't as fun on the road as it is at a birthday party.
- Do install a dog barrier in the back of your car before taking Rover for a ride. Rover will want to be in the front seat with you, and trying to swat him back with one hand while steering with the other is a sure way to take out a whole line of parked cars.
- Do obey speed limits so that you will have time to react should an unexpected obstacle (a person, another car, an animal) appear. Besides, no one will believe you got that huge dent going "only 10 miles an hour."
- Do listen to your stereo at a low enough volume that you can hear emergency sirens. Those fire trucks are a lot bigger than you, so you'll want to know one is approaching before it runs you over.
- Do take it easy, pay attention, and take the rules of the road seriously. In a few years when you can honestly say you've never had a ticket or an accident, people will respect you, and it will be an enormous point of pride.
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