Preparing for the Washington State Driving Test


Today I am going to share with you some of the notes I compiled / prepared when I had to study in order to pass the driving test.

These notes are not comprehensive and may contain mistakes, please double check what you study while reading from the Washington Driver Guide

Changing lanes

To change lanes, look at the rear mirror and the car you see behind you should have its front lights visible. This is the safe distance

Parallel parking

To park the car, first position yourself in parallel with the car that will become in front of you. Have your back seat same as its back seat. This will be a safe distance to start going backwards without the front of your car hitting the car when you go back.

Start to go backwards while steering at a 45 degrees angle. Go back slowly so you are close to the pavement (and obviously don’t touch it).

Later, when you reach that distance, straighten your steering wheel and go backwards until your car is completely behind the car you want to park behind.

Finally, go backwards and adjust the park.

Ideally, you should only go backwards once and forward once.


  • The “NO U-TURN” sign is a regulatory sign
  • Disabled Parking sign – A rectangular sign with a white background and green lettering, and the international disabled person symbol in white on a blue background marks special parking stalls at businesses and stores. You or your passenger must have and display a disabled person’s parking placard or license plate to park in these stalls. There is a $250 fine for parking in stalls without displaying the required placard or plate and for blocking the access aisle next to a space reserved for physically disabled persons.

Drinking alcohol and driving

  • Alcohol is involved in about 40 percent of the traffic collisions in which someone is killed. If you drink alcohol, even a little, your chances of being in a collision are much greater than if you did not drink any alcohol. No one can drink alcohol and drive safely, even if you have been driving for many years.

Parking the car on a hill

There are 3 cases. Although this process looks normal, I discuss below the 3rd backup when parking. The first being the break, 2nd is “Park” gear and third will be the way you steer the wheel:

  • Down hill: in a down hill, first park then steer your wheel to the right. This will prevent the car from sliding forward.
  • Up hill:
    • Pavement have border: if the pavement you’re parking next to have a border then you have to steer the wheels to the left. This way if the brakes fail, your car will actually roll backwards and towards the left so its front wheels will hit the pavement first and thus stop
    • Pavement have no borders: in this case, you have to steer to the right so that if the brake fails your car will slide backwards and to the right. Your back wheels will climb the pavement and go off road (which is safe)

Space ahead

  • When following emergency vehicles – Police vehicles, ambulances, and fire trucks need more room to operate. Do not follow closer than 500 feet to a fire truck.

Letting others know you are there

  • Use the horn when:
    • You cannot see incoming traffic (steep hill, sharp curve or exiting a narrow hill)
    • When a passing driver who starts to turn int your lane
    • You lost control of the vehicle and moving towards someone
    • When a child or elderly is running into the street
    • When approaching horses
  • Do not use the horn in the following cases:
    • When there are blind people
    • To let others know they did an error
  • In case of emergency:
    • Open the hood or tie a white cloth to the antenna
    • Step away safely from the vehicle and wave your hands
  • Stay out of the blind spot:
    • Do not tailgate
    • Drive as soon as possible from other driver’s blind spot
  • Letting others know what you are doing:
    • Get into the habit of using signals: use the signal lights to signal were you are going. Use the signal light even if there is no one around (it is easy to miss someone who needs to know what you are doing)
    • Use hand signals if needed:
      • Right turn: Left hand is up
      • Left turn: Left hand is extended from the window
      • Stop or decrease speed: Drop down your hand

Adjusting to road conditions

  • Slow down before a curve
  • On slippery roads you should reduce your speed to 10 mph
  • On icy roads you must slow to a crawl
  • If it rains on a hot day the road can become slippery: the heat can cause the oil to in the asphalt to go to the surface. It may take a while for the oil to wash out and the road stops becoming slippery
  • In hard rain conditions slow down to 50 mph or the car may ride on the water (like water skis). This is called “hydroplanning”.

How well you can see?

It takes much longer and further to stop than many people think:

  • At 50 mph it can take about 400 feet to react to something. That is about the length of a city block
  • At 30 mph it can take about 300 feet to react to something. That is about the length of half a city block

Use your lights

  • Dim your high beams within 500 feet of an incoming vehicle and 300 feet when you are behind a vehicle.
  • Use the low beams in fog or when it is snowing or raining hard. Light from high beams might reflect back causing a glare and making it difficult to see
  • If a vehicle comes toward you with high beams on, look away from the headlights and toward the right side of the road until the car has passed.

Sight distance rule

Drive at a speed where you can always safely stop. To tell if you are driving too fast for conditions, use the Four-Second Sight Distance Rule. Pick out a stationary object as far ahead as you can clearly see (such as a sign or a telephone pole). Start counting: one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, three-one-thousand, four-one-thousand. If you reach the object before you finish saying four-one-thousand, you need to slow down. You are going too fast for your sight distance. You should also use the Four-Second Sight Distance Rule at night to make sure you are not over-driving your headlights.

Speeding and Speed Limits

The best way to avoid speeding is to know how fast you are going. Check the speedometer often. People are not very good at judging how fast they are going. It is easy to be traveling much faster than you think. This is especially true when you leave high speed roads and are driving on much slower local roads. Obey speed limit signs. They are there for your safety.

Speed limits, unless otherwise posted, are:

  • 20 mph in school zones.
  • 25 mph on streets of cities and towns.
  • 50 mph on county roads.
  • 60 mph on state highways.
  • Parts of interstate highways may be posted with higher maximum speeds.

Reporting collision

  • If the collision results in an injury, death, or property damage of $700 or more to one person’s property and a report is not made by a law enforcement officer, you must report it to the Washington Department of  Transportation on a Collision Report form within four days. To get a report form, go to or call (360) 570-2355.


  • Emergency zone: the traffic infraction in the emergency zone is doubled and the license can be suspended up to 60 days
  • Reporting collision: if a collision results in death, injury or personal property loss of 700$ or more and the officer did not report the damage, one should report within 4 days

Vehicle Licensing

  • Certificate of ownership: when ownership is transferred, the owner must report within 15 days to avoid penalty fees
  • Vehicle registration: new residents must register the car within 30 days. Residents from a different state must register the car immediately
  • Report of sale: the owner must report the sale within 5 days

Driving sample tests

Sample questions

  • The single biggest contributor to collisions is
    • Entering the street going the wrong way
    • Driving 15 or more miles over the speed limit
    • Improper equipment
    • Failing to see what is happening
  • The speed limit in school zones unless otherwise posted is:
    • 15 mph
    • 20 mph
    • 25 mph
    • 30 mph
  • Pedestrians have the right of way:
    • Only at marked (painted) crosswalks
    • At all times
    • At crosswalks and intersections regardless if the crosswalk is marked (painted) or not.
    • Only at intersections.
  • To be safe, freeway drivers should look ahead of their car:
    • 3 seconds (400 feet ahead)
    • 5 seconds (1/8 mile ahead)
    • 8 seconds (3 1/2 football fields ahead)
    • 10 seconds (1/4 mile ahead)
  • You may legally park your car in front of a driveway:
    • Under no circumstances
    • If the driveway is in front of your house
    • As long as it is not parked for longer than 15 minutes
  • What is a safety zone?
    • A space set aside for pedestrians
    • An empty lane next to the freeway dividers
    • The median strip on a divided highway
  • There is no crosswalk and you see a pedestrian crossing in the middle of the block ahead:
    • Slow down as you pass him or her
    • You have the right-of-way, but must take care for his/her safety
    • Stop and give the pedestrian the right-of-way
  • To turn left from a one-way street into a one-way street, use:
    • The center left-turn lane
    • Any lane as long as it is safe
    • The lane closest to the left curb
  • Even if you know your vehicle can maneuver a sharp curve at the legal speed limit, you should still slow down because:
    • There may be a stalled car or accident ahead that you can’t see
    • You must legally drive below the speed limit on sharp curves
    • The strong inward pul on your vehicle can be dangerous
  • Drivers are required to obey instructions from:
    • Security guards patrolling parking lots
    • Signal persons at construction sites
    • Other drivers whose vehicles are broken down on the roadway
  • Which of the following children requires a child passenger restraint system?
    • A six year old weighing 45 lbs
    • A five year old weighing 55 lbs
    • A five year old weighing 65 lbs
  • Driving slowly in front of traffic in the far left (fast) lane on any freeway:
    • Can not result in a traffic citation
    • Can frustrate other drivers and make them angry
    • Saves lives by causing others to slow down, too
  • Which way do you turn your front wheels to park uphill next to a curb?
    • To the right – into the curb
    • To the left – away from the curb
    • Parallel to the curb
  • You should avoid driving through deep puddles. if your brakes get wet, you can dry them by:
    • Pressing the brake pedal hard for 3 or 4 seconds
    • Alternately pressing the brake and gas pedals
    • Pressing the brake pedal and accelerator at the same time
  • You should signal for a turn during the last _____ feet before the turn.
    • 75
    • 100
    • 50
  • You are involved in an accident and there is more than $500 in damages. You must:
    • Make a written report (SR 1) to the DMV
    • Make a written report (SR 1) to the highway patrol only if anyone is injured or killed
    • Show evidence that you have insurance only to a peace officer
  • You are traveling on a road with only one lane in your direction. Many cars are pulling out to pass you. You should:
    • Use a turnout area so the other vehicles can pass you
    • Pull onto the right shoulder of the road, but continue driving
    • Maintain your speed and lane position
  • Which of the following is true about lap-only seat belts?
    • They are safer for young children than using shoulder-belts
    • Pregnant women should not wear them unless combined with a shoulder belt
    • They are safest when used in combination with a shoulder belt
  • You want to back out of an angle parking space. You should always back slowly and:
    • Look over your right shoulder
    • Look at your rear view mirror
    • Have someone outside of the vehicle direct you
  • If you are towing another vehicle or trailer on a freeway with four lanes in your direction, you may travel in:
    • The far right lane only
    • Any of the traffic lanes in your direction
    • Either of the two right lanes
  • You should check traffic behind you:
    • Only on a freeway or highway
    • So you will know if you are being followed by a tailgater
    • Only when you are slowing down
  • When can you drive using only your parking lights?
    • 30 minutes after sunset or 30 minutes before sunrise
    • On foggy days
    • Not under any circumstances
  • If five or more vehicles are following you on a narrow two-lane road:
    • Move to the right side of your lane and drive slowly
    • Continue driving because you have the right-of-way
    • Pull off the road when it is safe and let them pass
  • You should use a turnout lane when:
    • You want to pass another driver
    • Faster drivers want to pass you
    • You want to make a U-turn
  • A curb painted red means: Parking is for disabled persons only Parking is for emergency vehicles only * Stopping or parking is not allowed (except buses)

I hope these notes were helpful to you. Please excuse errors and report corrections.

2 thoughts on “Preparing for the Washington State Driving Test

  1. for a question about five vehicles following us:
    If five or more vehicles are following you on a narrow two-lane road:
    Move to the right side of your lane and drive slowly
    Continue driving because you have the right-of-way (this is marked as right answer)
    Pull off the road when it is safe and let them pass (isnt this the right answer ?)

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