The DMV handbook is often the best tool to learn the rules of the road if you are a new driver preparing to take a permit test or pass a driver’s license exam. A drivers manual, available online or through a driver’s education course, is issued by each state’s Department of Motor Vehicles and contains all the information drivers need. By reading through and learning the information included in your DMV manual, you will be armed with the knowledge necessary to obtain your license.

Your DMV book will teach you everything you need to know about understanding road signs, how to drive safely and what you must do to keep your car in driving shape. It also includes detailed information on your state’s legal requirements and features advice on the best resources to utilize for various scenarios you may find yourself in. You can learn more about your state’s drivers handbook by visiting your state-specific page:

Select a state to begin:
Select a state to begin:

What topics are covered in the DMV handbook?

Your drivers ed book includes all the information you need to learn how to drive according to your state’s rules. Most handbooks are between 60 and 80 pages long. It may seem too lengthy, but all the information included is necessary to know before you begin driving.

For instance, your handbook includes information on the licensing process, including:

  • How to obtain a learner’s permit.
  • How to obtain a full driver’s license.
  • How to renew your driver’s license.
  • How to alter your name and address on your driver’s license.
  • What factors could cause you to lose your license.

Your drivers handbook also details the different kinds of licenses that are available. Each state has a different system for classifying types of licenses.

Licenses can be issued for non-commercial passenger vehicles, motorcycles or larger commercial vehicles. Furthermore, each license may carry different requirements regarding tests you need to pass, depending on the state you live in.

In addition to information on licensing, your DMV drivers handbook will also include information on road signs, road markers and signals. These include:

  • Common traffic signs and their patterns.
  • Common road signs and their meanings.
  • What various road markers mean.
  • How to drive in lanes with particular markings.
  • How to use your car’s signals to drive.

This information can help you learn when it is appropriate to merge, change lanes, stop or yield when driving. Each state has different rules regarding what road signs and markers it uses. However, certain signs remain consistent across states.

Your state’s DMV driver’s manual will also include information on what to do in situations you may encounter on the road. This can include advice on how to handle:

  • Passing slow-moving vehicles.
  • Moving aside for emergency vehicles.
  • Yielding at roundabouts and intersections.
  • Driving alongside bicyclists.
  • Defensive driving techniques.
  • Navigating through bad weather, darkness or with animals on the road.
  • Making arrangements after a car crash.
  • Being pulled over by a patrolling officer.

Your driver license book may describe more scenarios than the ones listed above. Different states may have different rules or standards regarding how to handle a scenario on the road.

For example, when passing an emergency vehicle stopped on the side of the road, Florida law requires driver to slow down to at least 20 miles below the posted speed limit and, if possible, change lanes. However, the District of Columbia has no laws that require drivers to slow down or move over for emergency vehicles.

Can a driver’s manual help applicants prepare for a driver’s exam?

Your DMV driving book includes all the information you will need to obtain your license, and reading it thoroughly will help you pass the driver’s exam.

Although hands-on practice is invaluable in learning to drive, reading through your DMV study guide will teach you the rules of the road and ensure you understand what to do during the exam.

The manual will tell you exactly what your state’s requirements are for applying for a learner’s permit or a driver’s license. It will explain where you can sign up to take the test and what you need to bring with you to complete the test.

Your driver’s exam typically has two parts: the road test and the written test. The road test will measure your ability to navigate safely on the road. As such, your examiner will observe whether you follow rules such as using your turn signals, coming to a complete stop at red lights and stop signs, looking both ways before driving and yielding when appropriate.

The written test will examine your knowledge of driving rules, such as who has right-of-way at a four-way stop. It will also test your ability to identify and interpret road signs and street markings. Therefore, your drivers ed handbook will be crucial for preparing you for the written portion of the test.

What other materials can help applicants study for a driver’s license test?

Along with your DMV driver’s ed book, you can also prepare for your driver’s license exam by signing up for a driver’s ed course online or through your local school system.

Many high schools offer after-school driver’s ed programs that both help you review the DMV manual and offer hands-on practice to learn basic skills like turning and parking. You can also find community-based driver’s ed programs if your school system does not offer one.

Some states require that drivers take a driver’s ed course before applying for a learner’s permit or driver’s license.

In addition to a driver’s ed course, you can prepare for the licensing exam by taking practice tests online. These exams resemble the official exam, including similar questions. As such, taking a practice test to review what you have learned is beneficial for even drivers education students.

Who else can benefit from a driver’s handbook?

Most young motorists review the DMV book for the driving test closely until after completing the exam. Then, they promptly throw the handbook aside. However, drivers of all ages can benefit from regularly reviewing the contents of the DMV driving book.

The manual reminds you of how to safely interact with other drivers, good defensive driving techniques to keep in mind and how to operate particular features of your car.

In addition, the rules of driving can change over the years, which means you should peruse the driver’s manual regularly to note any differences. In addition, if you move states, the rules and signs may change. Therefore, you should consult the driver’s handbook anytime you move to a different state.

How to Get a DMV Driver’s Handbook

There is a variety of ways you can obtain a DMV study guide for your state. If you take a driver’s ed course, you will often be provided a copy of the manual for the course.

You can also request your handbook by mail in some states. However, the easiest way to find the handbook is by going online. Your state DMV handbook is easy to access and available for free.

You can even download some manuals through an iPhone or Android app, allowing you to access the information wherever you are.

Last updated on Friday, February 28 2020.