Q I have a story idea: Ask readers to come up with one or three or five things that all new drivers should be told. They could be etiquette things that are either not covered in the test (slow traffic keep right) or maybe need to be emphasized more, like what the procedure is at a four-way stop.

Pat T.

Santa Cruz

A You're not the only one asking.

Q I've been reading your column since before I could drive, and it has definitely been informative. Now at 16 I am a first-time writer. I got my provisional license in April and want to know: What's your best advice for a new, young driver?

Ali Albanese

Sunnyvale

A Welcome to Roadshow, Ali! My best advice is a willingness to listen, and on that account you already pass.

I decided to ask a couple of experts on young drivers -- Anne-the-Roadshow-Daughter, now 28, and Matt-the-Roadshow-Son, who is 20.

Q My best advice, especially because all 16-year-olds -- or at least the majority of them -- now have cellphones (which I didn't have when I started driving), is to put the cellphone in a purse/backpack in the trunk before getting behind the wheel. New teen drivers shouldn't have their cellphones near them when they drive.


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Anne-the-Roadshow-Daughter

A She's just getting started.

Q Also, preset your favorite radio stations so that you don't have to go searching for them. And know which radio station corresponds to which preset number.

And don't eat in your car (having a bottle of water or a soda in the center console is fine); it is tempting to go to drive-thrus, new restaurants, etc., as a new driver, but eating in the car is just one more difficult-to-manage distraction while driving.

Practice freeway merging early on a Saturday or Sunday morning when there's no rush-hour traffic.

And wear sunglasses when necessary. I remember being surprised as a new driver by how hard it was to drive when I didn't wear sunglasses.

Anne-the-Roadshow-Daughter

A Now, on to another young road savant:

Q Drive slowly. Pretend there's a baby in the car. Don't tailgate, use the blinkers, and just because you see a cop car doesn't mean he's intent on pulling you over.

Matt-the-Roadshow-Son

A Kids, you have made Pop proud. I'm hoping to hear from others on what new drivers should know. Join me on my Wednesday chat at www.mercurynews.com/live-chats and we can further discuss this.

Q I learned to drive in the U.K., and with a teen with his permit, I don't understand why we do not have "L" plates (a big red L on a white background) to clearly identify to other drivers that the person behind the wheel is still learning, may do something unexpected and there is a reason why he or she is actually driving the speed limit. Why wouldn't something like this be adopted in the interest of everyone's safety?

Ennis Pipe

Pleasanton

A The DMV says the idea of an L plate for learners has not been considered. The creation of a new plate would take the passing of a legislative bill signed by the governor, but you must also consider the practicality and cost of having to apply for, pay for, receive and install a set of plates that will only be used for a few months.

Q What happens to a teen driver who flunks a third driving test? Can they never hold anything more than a California learner's permit until the day they die?

Patrick Grimes

A An applicant can take the exam three times under the same application fee. After the third failed test, one must reapply and pay a new fee. There is no limit to the number of applications that can be submitted to obtain a license, although in some extreme cases where there might be an underlying physical or mental condition, the driver could be referred to the department's Driver Safety Branch for evaluation.

Look for Gary Richards at Facebook.com/mr.roadshow or contact him at mrroadshow@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5335.