Driver ReadinessPacific Driver Education has begun our winter class schedule at St. Mary’s Academy, Central Catholic High School, Estacada High School and Village Home in Beaverton for this year. Each of us is teaching driver readiness concepts to our students.  One important part of driver readiness is to know what the various dashboard indicators communicate to the driver.  For some students this can be daunting, for instance. I asked my class where the “climate control” was located and one student looked at me like I had just spoken in Gaelic. So I repeated the question and I could tell she still had no idea what I was talking about. So being the great communicator that I am 😉 I rephrased the question. “Who controls the climate” I asked. She looked at me this time with a glimmer of light in her eyes and answered “Jesus”.  “No Megan, the climate in the car” I said. She just nodded her head slowly and smiled.

While the climate is important, both in and out of the car, many things can and do go wrong prior to embarking on a driving excursion. The truly prepared driver will know what to do when an indicator light warns of a problem. Because driver vehicle readness is so important to the safety of the driver I came up with a list of six questions every instructor and parent should ask their students and teen drivers.

  1. Tell me what you do when the oil light comes on? What does this indicator light tell you?
  2. If the check engine light comes on, what should you do next?
  3. If your car windows are fogging up on the inside, how do you correct this problem? I bet Megan knows the answer to this one.
  4. How could you check to see if your power steering is working correctly before you begin driving?
  5. If the brake light comes on and you know your emergency brake is not engaged, what else could this mean?
  6. Could you find the indicators for Engine Oil, Transmission, Washer Fluid and Brake Fluid in the engine compartment?

While driving with a roadside assistance card is a true luxury most of us won’t go without, knowing where strategic indicators are located, how to check them and what to do when levels are improper is a vital part of driving.