Suggested Guidelines for BTW Instruction

This section is written in its entirety for parents. Remember, teenage drivers must have a valid permit to drive. During the previous level, we focused on maintaining a safe speed under all conditions. We drove in downtown traffic, boulevards, and highways with a maximum speed of 55 mph. During this level, we will work on emergency driving techniques. We will also spend more time on the freeway. This should be a fun level for both of you.


The focus of Section 7 is preparing for emergencies. Unlike opportunity training in Section 6, to prepare for emergencies we will simulate situations in parking lot or on private property. The instructor should take time to review Section 7 and talk about the different kinds of emergencies. If you have experienced a vehicle emergency, discuss what happened then talk about what you did correctly and what you did incorrectly. If you are able, you may want to visit the roadway where you had your emergency experience so your teen can see what the driving environment looked like. You are encouraged to complete as many of the simulated emergency scenarios as you can, but do not risk damage to your vehicle. If you only have access to vehicles with a high center of gravity, you should not attempt any of the swerving simulations. Instead, talk about them or look for videos online that show similar vehicle emergencies. As before, refer to the chart below for a task list and references.

Section 7 Required Tasks:


Emergency Braking & Steering


Compensating for Limited Visibility


Negotiating a Water Crossing




Traction Loss and Skids


Mechanical Emergencies


Off-Road Recovery


Safety Technologies



Emergency Braking and Steering

Practice emergency braking and steering in a large open parking lot (where there are no cars). This will allow the student to experience simulated emergencies while behind the wheel. The purpose of these exercises is not to teach your teenager to become a stunt driver, but simply to familiarize your student with the fundamentals of emergency collision avoidance techniques.

* Important Note: The braking technique you use will depend on your vehicles braking system.

  • Vehicles with an Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) use a computer to prevent wheel-lockup. ABS equipped vehicles require the driver to apply the brakes with a hard, firm pressure and maintain that pressure until the vehicle stops. ABS equipped vehicles also allow the driver to steer while braking.
  • Vehicles without ABS require a different technique because the driver must sense wheel-lockup, take action to unlock the wheels and prevent wheel-lockup from happening again. This technique is called threshold braking. The driver applies the brakes with firm pressure. If the driver senses the wheels locking up, he/she will release brake pressure to regain rolling traction (unlock the wheels). When rolling traction is reestablished, the driver applies more brake pressure, but not enough to lock the wheels again. Yes, it is complicated and it must be practiced before the driver encounters a real emergency.

Exercise #1:

Steering Control Weave

The purpose of this exercise is to teach steering control under conditions more challenging than normal traffic situations. The student will experience hands-on vehicle performance during tight cornering. He will also discover how hand position plays a key role in car control. The student will also learn to adjust speed for smooth cornering.

Course Layout:

Set up eight empty cardboard boxes, small soft-rubber garbage cans, or traffic cones, etc., in an open parking lot as indicated in Figure 6-8. Make sure the lot is clear of cars and debris. Additionally, the parking lot for these exercises must be at least 100 feet from any light pole or obstruction to any cone or object used in the exercise.

Place the vehicle in a direct line with the cones or other obstacles. The starting point should be approximately 100 feet from the nearest outside cone. Start at a slow pace, allowing the driver to "get the feel" of the vehicle. After driving through the exercise at a slower pace a few times, gradually increase speed with each attempt. The goal is to keep the vehicle within 20-25 mph while maintaining continued control. The speed must remain steady, not varying more than 5 mph.

The student has successfully completed this exercise when he can consistently drive through all the obstacles without hitting them and without losing control, while at the same time maintaining a steady speed between 20-25 mph.

Have the student drive through the exercise in reverse. It is not necessary to grade him on this. The purpose of driving the course in reverse is to give the student a challenging experience of car control while in reverse.

Exercise #2

Emergency Braking

In a large parking lot, with a clear area of at least 300 yards, have your driver accelerate to a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour. On your signal, have him make an emergency stop using anti-lock braking techniques. Fast pumping intervals on the brake is the way to stop the car more quickly, while at the same time allowing for steering control. Demonstrate the difference that pumping the brakes, versus locking them up, makes in stopping distance by having the student do both. Take note of the difference in the stopping distance (see Figure 6-9). Do not pump ABS brakes, the system will do this for you.

*Note: When substituting larger boxes or other larger soft objects with cones, it may not be necessary to replace the cones one for one. It is only necessary that the configuration be maintained, and that it be discernable by the driver.

Exercise #3

Braking and Steering Combination

The purpose of this exercise is to demonstrate effective use of steering and braking in combination during collision avoidance. As stated earlier, in an emergency driving situation, most drivers use only about 30 percent of a vehicles' total crash avoidance capabilities. A significant amount of this unused collision avoidance capability involves a steering and braking combination.

This exercise forces the driver to use this braking-steering combination. It simulates an emergency driving situation when a collision is imminent and braking alone will not prevent the collision from taking place. This exercise will also demonstrate to the new driver how locking up the wheels in a panic stop affects steering control.

Course Layout

Set up the obstacles as indicated in Figure 6-9.

By using quick turning maneuvers, you can also demonstrate how steering takes less distance than braking. THIS SHOULD NOT BE ACCOMPLISHED AT SPEEDS OVER 25 MPH, AND NOT WITH ANY HIGH-CENTER-OF-GRAVITY VEHICLE, SUCH AS SPORT UTILITY VEHICLES AND VANS. Place empty paper boxes or traffic cones in a parking lot. After accelerating to 25 mph, practice maneuvering around the object. Show how braking at this distance will not allow you to stop in time (see Figure 6-10).

Have your driver accelerate to a maximum speed of 25 mph. When the evasive point is reached, yell, "right," "left," or "stop." (Yelling closely simulates an emergency situation. It heightens the sense of urgency and forces the student to control the urge to panic.) The driver has forty feet to execute the command.

Command "STOP"

When the instructor gives the command, the first thing the driver will do is to brake hard (hold the brake pedal down for ABS and pump the brakes for non-ABS) to stop the vehicle before striking the obstacles in front of it (see Figure 6-9).

Command "RIGHT" or "LEFT"

When this command is given, the first thing the driver will do is to brake hard (just short of lock-up), then release the brake as the steering maneuver is executed. To demonstrate the effect that locked wheels have on steering control, once or twice, the student driver intentionally locks-up the brakes during the turning maneuver. As you will see, the maneuver is nearly impossible to execute while the brakes are locked.

When there is rain, snow or ice on the road, is a good time for the student driver to go into the parking lot. Practice these same maneuvers on slick surfaces to allow the new driver an opportunity to experience firsthand how significant an impact snow and ice have on steering and braking control. You may wish to set obstacles in the parking lot as before. On slick road surfaces, these exercises must be performed at much lower speeds.

Finally, you may want to set up the course with a 35 ft (instead of 40 ft) distance between your obstacles. Run through each drill once on this shortened course to simulate increased reaction time (by using a decreased reaction distance) due to fatigue, distraction, medication, or other negative influence. By no means should you perform training when your teen is fatigued or on medication.

Limited Visibility

In previous levels, we have addressed limited visibility due to factors outside the driver's control such as bad weather, in this section we need to address factors that are within the driver's control such as:

  • Darkness/Night Driving
  • Glare
  • Dirty Windshield/Windows
  • Foggy Windows
As with external obstructions to visibility such as fog, rain, or snow, if your visibility is obstructed by factors inside the car, you need to slow down or get off the road entirely until you resolve the issue.

Night Driving

Night Driving

We introduced night driving in Level 4. Now that your teen has had a chance to drive at night, and to drive on highways during the day, you may introduce highway driving at night. At speeds over 50 miles per hour, stopping distance is greater than the distance on the roadway illuminated by your headlights. This is called "overdriving your headlights". On dark stretches of highway, high-beams must be used to provide extended visibility that compliments the speed of travel, but at some speeds, even high beams can not help. That is why some states, such as Texas, establish a daytime speed limit of 70 mph and a nighttime speed limit of 65 mph. High beams can interfere with the vision of other drivers, causing night blindness. High beams must be turned off within 1000 feet of oncoming traffic or 500 feet from a car in front traveling your same direction.

You may now also begin practice at dusk and dawn. During the twilight hours, roadways and other roadway users can be harder to see because some roadway users don't turn on their headlights unless it is completely dark. Headlights are not used just to help you see, but also to help other drivers see you. At dusk, darker vehicles are harder to see because they blend in with the dark road surface. At dawn, lighter vehicles are harder to see because the gray road surface reflects the sunlight and the road looks lighter than normal. In both of these cases, if the vehicle's headlights are on, they are easy to distinguish from the surrounding roadway in low light conditions. As a matter of fact, we recommend that you use your headlights every time you drive to make your vehicle easier for other drivers to see.


Headlight glare from vehicles behind you can reflect in your mirrors in interfere with visibility. Inside rearview mirrors have a glare setting that deflects the bright light out of the driver's field of vision. Side mirrors can also reflect headlights into the driver's eyes. Use the BGE mirror settings discussed in Section 2 to reduce glare and improve visibility.

Dirty Windshield/Windows

Dirt and oil on the inside or outside of the windshield or windows can also obstruct visibility to the point that it is not safe to drive. Dirt should be washed off the exterior of the windows at a car wash or with a mild soapy water solution.

Oil that collects on the inside of the windows will diffuse light sources at night and make it hard to see through the glass. Interior window surfaces should be cleaned with glass cleaner and wiped down with a lint-free cloth.

Foggy Windows

We have already discussed how bad weather conditions can limit visibility outside the car, but they can also contribute to fog accumulation on the interior of the car windows and windshield. Condensation will accumulate on interior glass surfaces whenever the inside of the vehicle is significantly colder than the outside. Use the vehicle defroster on a medium range temperature setting to evaporate condensation inside the car. Wiping the wet surface could result in oil from your hands smearing across the window that interfere with nighttime visibility.

Road Hazard: Crossing Water

You may or may not get the opportunity to have your new driver experience driving through water. Talk through the following scenarios first. If the opportunity arises for practice, then use the guidance given below. Puddles or flooding on the road can impact your driving in three different ways:

  • water
    Deep water: Do not attempt to cross water on the road if you do not know how deep it is. You should never attempt to cross water that is so deep that you could submerge part of your engine. If your engine gets wet, it could stall due to an electrical short circuit or water in the combustion chamber. If you encounter water that may be too deep for your vehicle to cross, you will need to turn around and find another route to your destination.
  • Water on Brakes: Driving at normal speeds through puddles or flooded roadways can get your brakes wet and cause temporary brake failure. When crossing puddles or flooded roads, drive slowly and apply the brakes lightly as you pass through the water and for a few feet afterwards.
  • Hydroplaning: Hydroplaning occurs when the tires ride on the surface of the water instead of gripping the surface of the road. It can happen at speeds as low as 35 mph. Hydroplaning greatly reduces the driver's control of the vehicle. Prevent hydroplaning by reducing speeds by about 1/3 when driving on wet road surfaces. Avoid cruise control while driving in the rain as well.



Obviously, you don't want to practice a collision, but you do want your teen to know how to minimize damage from a collision and how to react if he/she is in a collision. Of the different kinds of collisions described in Section 7, you will see head-on frontal collisions and broad side collisions are the most deadly and that sideswiping collisions are the least deadly for passengers. If a driver believes he/she will be in a collision, changing the angle of the collision could save lives and reduce injuries.

In the event of a collision, the driver should first call 911 for emergency assistance. While on the phone, check the scene and the victims to see if anyone needs first aid. Take steps to reduce further damage; perhaps by setting up emergency reflectors or flares, then begin filling out an accident reporting worksheet.

Print an extra copy of the accident report worksheet and talk through a crash scenario with your teen. Role-play the drivers in a crash and exchange information. Your teen must remember not to disclose the limits of your insurance policy, and let the police determine who is at fault.

Traction Loss and Skids

Traction loss usually occurs when the driver accelerates, brakes, or steers too sharply for the road conditions. By far, it is better for your new driver to prevent traction loss on slick roads by accelerating gently, driving slowly, and braking early, but it is also prudent to give your new driver some experience feeling a loss of traction and responding appropriately to it.

If you live in a region that allows you to experience icy road conditions, dedicate time to practice driving on an ice covered parking lot. The lot you use should be large and free of obstacles and other cars. Use good judgment; do not do anything that may lead to a collision or damage to your car. First show your teen how to prevent traction loss, then show your teen how to react to traction loss:

  • Determine if your vehicle as ABS so you can apply the correct method of emergency braking (see note at the beginning of this section).
  • Demonstrate to your new driver that slow, gentle acceleration and early, gentle braking can prevent traction loss in most situations
  • Having demonstrated that extra care can prevent traction loss, now accelerate as if the parking lot is not covered in ice to demonstrate that traction loss can happen at low speeds if the driver inputs are inappropriate for the road conditions. Traction loss caused by too much acceleration is called a "power skid."
  • Finally, accelerate slowly and gently to a speed of 15 to 20 mph (if the lot is large enough) and apply the brakes as though you are driving on a clean, dry road surface.
  • If you are able to create a traction loss situation, show your teen how to regain control of the car by releasing your acceleration or braking input and counter-steering to restore your path of travel. Note that most states prescribe "steering in the direction of the skid" to regain path of travel; NDT prefers to explain the process as "steering in the direction you want to go" because we have found that it is a more intuitive explanation and teen's find it easier to understand.
  • Discuss your experiences and the process to regain control before allowing your teen to practice.

Once your teen has had a chance to observe your driving in icy conditions, allow the teen to drive.

  • Emphasize prevention with gentle acceleration, slow driving, and early braking.
  • Have your teen accelerate slowly and gently to a speed of 15 to 20 mph (if the lot is large enough) and apply the brakes as though he/she is driving on a clean, dry road surface; then regain control of the car as described above.
  • Once again, discuss your experiences.

Mechanical Emergencies

Discuss the different kinds of mechanical emergencies. Relate any experiences you have with vehicle mechanical failure and how you reacted. You may also choose to demonstrate and then practice these excercises:

Engine Failure - Teach the new driver how to handle the car with the engine off. This is especially important with power steering and braking. In an open parking lot, have the student accelerate to a maximum speed of 20 mph and then turn the key to shut the engine off. DO NOT TURN THE KEY SO FAR AS TO LOCK THE STEERING WHEEL. Have the student practice turning and braking with no power. The student will note that it is much more difficult to turn or brake than if the vehicle had power assist. Use good judgment to practice this enough that the student feels reasonably confident with the task but not so much as to damage your vehicle.

Change a Tire - Talk about how a tire blowout affects steering and braking. Discuss the strategy given in Section 7 to react to a blowout, then show your teen how to change a tire (if you have not already done so).

Stuck Accelerator and Unresponsive Brakes - There is not really a safe, practical way to practice these scenarios, so talk through the strategies given in Section 7. You can safely demonstrate how the car responds to downshifting to a lower gear by driving on a residential street with little or no traffic at a speed of 18 to 20 mph. At this speed, your vehicle should be in 2nd gear. Shift down to first gear to demonstrate how the engine and transmission will slow the vehicle.

Off-Road Recovery

The procedure for off-road recovery is outlined in Section 7 under the paragraph heading "Wheels Off the Pavement." Off-Road Recovery should be simulated on a private road; although it may be safely practiced on a public road very good visibility and no oncoming traffic. Have your teen observe you before allowing your teen to practice. To make the session as safe as possible, practice off-road recovery using the following steps:

  • Activate your hazard lights to make your vehicle more noticeable to all other roadway users
  • Slow down to a speed of 25 mph or less
  • Gently steer to the right so the right wheels are on the shoulder of the road
  • Apply the steps for Off-Road Recovery
    • Adjust lane position so the right wheels are 12 to 18 inches from the road edge
    • Look for a location where the road edge is less than 2 inches above the shoulder
    • Signal left (practice signaling even though the hazards are on because the signal is an important part of real-world off-road recovery)
    • Move the steering wheel 1/8 turn to the left
    • As soon as you feel the right front tire contact the road surface, steer 1/4 turn to the right
    • Straighten the wheel to gain a stable path of travel on the road
    • Accelerate to normal speeds

Safety Technologies

New safety technologies are being developed every day. Grab your vehicle owner's manual, go to your car and find out what technologies you already have. Does your family vehicle have any of the following?

  • Anti-lock Brake System
  • Traction Control System
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Active Yaw Control
  • Other protection and stability technologies
Discuss how the technologies work on your vehicle using the driver handbook.

Freeway Driving

In the last level, you practiced entering and exiting the freeway. Now take your student to drive on the freeway. At first, you should avoid rush hour. Take your teen out during periods of lesser traffic. Start out at a maximum speed of 55 mph. As the student grows in confidence, move up to 65 mph. Emphasize getting up to the speed of traffic when merging onto the freeway from the acceleration lane.

Things To Watch for:

  • Following distance and SIPDE.
  • The number of errors should be diminishing significantly.
  • When the student is having continued difficulty with some portion of the driving, set aside time to work on that item. Go over that portion in the discussion section of that level. Practice it as many times as necessary before moving on to the next level.