Home » Tennessee DMV Driver’s Handbook Part 4

Tennessee DMV Driver’s Handbook Part 4

Section A.

This section is designed for all current and potential drivers in Tennessee. It provides information that all drivers will find useful. Section A consists of pages 1 through 24. This section will help new and experienced drivers alike get ready for initial, renewal, and other license applications by explaining:

  • the different types of licenses available
  • the documentation and other requirements for license applications
  • details on Intermediate Driver Licenses and how this graduated driver license works for driver license applicants under age 18
  • basic descriptions of the tests required to obtain a Driver License

Section B.

This section is designed to help new drivers study and prepare for the required knowledge and skills for an operator license. It includes helpful practice test questions at the end of each chapter. Section B consists of pages 25 through 90.

This section of the manual provides information related to:

  • Examination requirements for the vision, knowledge and road tests
  • Traffic signs, signals, and lane markings
  • Basic Rules of the Road
  • Being a responsible driver and knowing the dangers and penalties of Driving Under the Influence of alcohol and drugs.

Section C.

This section provides information and safety tips to improve the knowledge of all highway users to minimize the likelihood of a crash and the consequences of those that do occur. This section consists of pages 91-117. It also provides information about sharing the road with other methods of transportation, which have certain rights and privileges on the highways which drivers must be aware of and respect.

It is important to read this information and learn what you can do to stay safe, and keep your family safe, on the streets, roads and highways of our great state.


Section A. Chapter 1 Your License

Section A. Chapter 2 Applying For Your License

Section A. Chapter 3 Intermediate Licenses For Drivers Under 18 – Graduated License Procedures

Section A. Chapter 4 The Examinations

Section B. Chapter 1 Getting Familiar With Your Vehicle

Section B. Chapter 2 Tennessee Safety Belt Laws

Section B. Chapter 3 Traffic Signs and Signals

  • Traffic Signs
  • Sign Shapes and Colors
  • Color Codes On Highway Traffic Signs
  • Temporary Traffic Control Zones
  • Octagon Shape – Stop
  • Triangular Shape – Yield
  • Round Shape – Railroad Ahead
  • Broad “X” Shape – Railroad Here
  • Diamond Shape – Hazardous Or Unusual Condition Ahead
  • Rectangular Shape – Special Laws, Regulations or Important Information
  • Regulatory Signs
  • Warning Signs – Diamond Shape (Yellow)
  • Work Area Signs
    • Construction Signs
    • Channeling Devices
    • Highway Flaggers
    • Slow-Moving Vehicle (SMV) Emblem
    • Object Marker
  • Guide Signs for Highways
  • Interstate Route Marker
  • Guide Signs on Interstates
  • Service Signs
  • Handicap Symbol
  • Directional Signs
  • Emergency Reference Markers
  • Traffic Signals
    • Red
    • Yellow
    • Green
    • Protected Arrows
    • Permissive Arrows
    • Malfunctioning Traffic Light
  • Pedestrian Signals
    • “Walk”
    • “Don’t Walk”
    • Lane Control Signals
  • General Principles of Pavement Lane Markings
    • Uniform Highway Markings
    • Edge and Lane Lines
    • Crosswalks
    • Stop Lines
    • High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lanes
    • Turn Lane Arrow
    • White Crossbuck with RR
    • Chapter Sample Test Questions

Section B. Chapter 4 Rules of the Road

  • Some Basic Rules
  • Use of Headlights
  • Emergency Flashers
  • Littering
  • Slow-Moving Vehicles
  • Funeral Procession
  • The Basic Speed Rule
  • Tennessee Speed Laws
    • Interstate Speed Limits
    • Rural Interstate Limits
    • Urban Interstate Limits
  • Work Zone Crashes
  • Braking, Following and Stopping Distances
  • The Two Second Rule
  • Stops Required by Law
  • Stopping for Railroad Crossings
  • The School Bus Stop Law
  • Stopping for Police Vehicles
  • Intersections
    • Approaching Intersections Safely
    • The Right-Of-Way Procedures
    • Turning
    • Signaling a Turn
    • Making Turns
    • Left Turns
    • Right Turns
    • Special Turns: Roundabouts and U-Turns
  • Traffic Lanes and Lane Usage
  • Passing Other Vehicles
  • Passing Bicycles
  • Backing and Parking
    • Backing
    • Parking
  • Chapter Sample Test Questions

Section B. Chapter 5 Interstate Driving

  • Interstate Highway Driving is Different
  • Entering the Interstate
  • Driving on the Interstate
  • Leaving/Exiting the Interstate
  • Interchanges
  • Special Interstate Driving Instructions
  • Dealing with Traffic Congestion
  • Move Over Law
  • Vehicle Breakdowns, Crashes and Emergency Stopping
  • Chapter Sample Test Questions

Section B. Chapter 6 Driving at Night and in Inclement Weather Conditions

  • Driving At Night
  • Driving in Inclement Weather Conditions
  • High Water and Flooding Dangers
  • Driving in Winter Weather Conditions

Section B. Chapter 7 Alcohol, Other Drugs and Driving

  • Impaired Driving
    • Alcohol and You
    • An Overview of the Effects of Alcohol
    • How Does Alcohol Affect the Body?
    • What is Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)?
  • Relationship of Alcohol to Traffic Crashes
  • Alcohol’s Effects on Driving Ability
    • Judgment
    • Vision
    • Reaction Time and Coordination
    • Alertness and Concentration
  • “Every Day” Drugs
  • Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol
  • Implied Consent Law
  • Consequences of a DUI Arrest
  • Penalties Applying to any DUI Conviction
  • Young Driver Risks and Laws
  • Prevention of Drinking and Driving
  • Chapter Sample Test Questions

Section B. Chapter 8 Driving Responsibility

  • Problem Driver Pointer System
  • Losing Your Privilege to Drive
  • Hearings
  • Non-Resident Violator Compact
  • Reinstatements
  • Driver Improvement Program
  • Frequent Traffic Violations
  • Restricted Driver License
  • Points for Moving Traffic Violations and Crashes Table
    1. DUI.
    2. DriverImprovement
    3. Implied Consent
    4. Juvenile
    5. Failure to Satisfy a Citation
  • Physical Or Mental Disabilities
  • Re-Examination of Drivers
  • Financial Responsibility
  • Reporting Crashes
  • Traffic Crashes
    • If You Are Involved in a Crash – STOP!
    • If You Arrive First At a Crash Scene
  • Chapter Sample Test Questions
  • Study Questions Answer Key

Section C. Chapter 1 Defensive Driving and Road Rage

  • Safety Tips for Safe Driving and Sharing the Road
  • Concentration and Alertness are Important Elements
  • Drive Cautiously
  • Scanning the Road and Traffic for Defensive Reactions
  • Sharing a Safe Driving Space
  • Road Rage

Section C. Chapter 2 Special Driving Conditions and Your Vehicle

  • Avoiding Collisions
  • Collisions with Animals
  • The Driver, the Vehicle, and Road Important Facts
  • Maintenance Needs for a Safe Vehicle
  • Vehicle Tires
  • Vehicle Steering
  • Understanding Road and Traffic Conditions

Section C. Chapter 3 Sharing the Road Safely

  • Sharing the Road with Pedestrians
  • Your Role as a Pedestrian
  • Safety Tips for Pedestrians
  • Sharing the Road with Bicycles
  • Sharing the Road with Motorcycles
  • Driver Tips for Sharing the Road with Motorcycles
  • Safety Tips for Motorcycles
  • Safety Tips for Car Drivers
  • Sharing the Road with Large Trucks and Buses
  • Risky Situations with Large Vehicles
  • Learn the “NO-ZONES” for large vehicles
  • Sharing the Road with School Buses
  • Sharing the Road with Slow Moving vehicles and Equipment
  • Sharing the Road with Highway Work Zones
  • Sharing the Road with Trains
  • If your Vehicle Stalls on the Train Tracks
  • Emergency Notification System for Vehicle Stuck on Train Tracks
  • Safety Tips for 15-Passenger Vans
  • Safety Tips for Recreational Vehicles (RVs)

Section C. Chapter 4 Helping Teens and New Drivers Learn to Drive

  • A SAFE Attitude for Driving and Learning
  • Planning Safe and Informative Practice Sessions
  • Reference Tools to Consider
  • Driving Contracts
  • Helping Non-English Speaking Beginners
  • A Special Final Word to Parents

Graduated Driver License Driving Experience Log


General Information:

  • Your driver license examination will consist of a vision screening, a knowledge test, and a road test.
  • Driver license tests are given at all Driver Service Centers except for the express service centers. The knowledge tests are administered on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Due to the length of time to administer, road tests are taken by appointment.
  • Road tests are not given in extreme weather (heavy rain/snow, dense fog, hail, high winds, icy roads, etc.)
  • During winter months road tests are not given in the dark.
  • No test may be repeated on the same day.
  • Mandatory 7-day waiting period is required after failing the knowledge test.
  • Mandatory waiting periods are required when an applicant fails the road test for the original issuance of a Class D license. For details on these waiting periods, see Table 4.2.
  • When you return to take a test over, you must bring back all of the original documents you are required to provide.
  • You will be required to pay the $2 application fee each time you take a test and fail. This fee applies to PD, D and H tests.

Determining Which Tests Are Required:

Table: 4.1

Note: See Motorcycle Manual for Class M tests, and CDL Manual for Classes A, B, and C


To determine if a driver can see well enough to drive, a vision screening is required before any license or permit is issued. An applicant is required to have at least 20/40 vision in each eye individually and both eyes together. This may be with or without your glasses or contact lenses. If you are unable to successfully complete the vision screening, you must have an eye specialist of your choice fill out an eye statement for the Department to evaluate.


You will be given an exam covering knowledge needed to drive safely. The test will consist of multiple choice questions based on information contained in sections B and C of this manual. You can expect the test to approximately consist of the following four areas:

Traffic signs and signals—25%
Safe driving principles—25%
Rules of the road—25%
Drugs and alcohol—25%

1. Test Formats

The knowledge tests are administered in our Driver License Service Centers using computerized testing machines. In very limited circumstances, tests are administered in written formats.

Our Driver Service Centers that have the computerized testing are also currently able to offer the test in 3 alternate language formats of Spanish, Korean or Japanese. Applicants for whom English is not their first language may also use a translation dictionary as long as there are no notes or other handwriting visible within the pages of the book. The use of Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), Smart Phones, Electronic Dictionaries and other similar electronic devices are NOT allowed during testing. Interpreters are NOT allowed to assist with any of the driver license testing.

Oral tests are available by appointment at selected Driver License Service Centers for applicants who have a learning disability or cannot read. If the applicant requesting an oral test is under age eighteen (18), a written statement from a physician or educational specialist stating that the applicant has a medical condition or learning disability will be required before the test can be administered in the oral format. In the event the applicant requesting an oral test is deaf, the Department of Safety will furnish a certified sign language interpreter to assist with the administration of the exam.

Any form of cheating by an applicant on a required examination will result in an automatic failure and the applicant will not be allowed to re-attempt the test for thirty (30) days. Forms of cheating include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Use of any form of written notes (including notes on paper, clothing, body, digital pagers, etc.)
  • Talking during the examination (includes cell phone use)
  • Attempting to allow another person to take the examination
  • All cell phones, pagers or text messaging devices must be turned off during both written and road test administration.

2. When You Don’t Pass the Knowledge Test

In order to encourage the applicant to thoroughly study Section B of this manual and cut down on repeat visits by applicants who are not yet prepared for the examination, a mandatory 7-day waiting period is required after failing any driver license knowledge test.

All applicants will be required to wait a minimum of seven days before returning to any Driver License Service Center to attempt the knowledge examination again. The date and information on failures is keyed into the Driver License computer system to ensure that all locations are aware of prior test dates and scores.

The 7-day waiting period outlined above will also be applied to wait times between additional re-testing if the applicant does not pass the examination on the second or subsequent attempts.


1. Make an Appointment to Schedule Your Road Test

All applicants that require a road test should make a pre- scheduled appointment at the Driver License Service Center of their choice. These appointments may be made using the Driver License Appointments system found on our Internet website at: tn.gov/safety/ or by calling toll-free 1-866-849-3548. For the Hearing Impaired, TTY USERS SHOULD HAVE THE TENNESSEE RELAY SERVICE CALL (615) 532-2281.

NOTE: Because road tests are not given in the dark, these times will be adjusted during winter hours to compensate for the shortened daylight hours.

All applicants will need to be aware of the following guidelines for road test appointments:

  • You must have successfully passed the required knowledge test(s) prior to your road test appointment. If you arrive for your road test appointment and have not passed the knowledge test your appointment will be cancelled.
  • Because of the mandatory 7-day waiting period for retaking failed knowledge tests it is advisable to make sure you successfully pass this well in advance of your appointment date.
  • You will be able to make your appointment up to 45 days in advance of your desired test date. When scheduling, keep the following mandatory requirements in mind:
    • If you do not already have a valid Tennessee learner permit you will be required to bring proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residency with you to your appointment. (When getting a TDL you will need current proof of Temporary Legal Presence (TLP).)
    • You should plan to arrive at the Driver License Service Center at least ten fifteen (15) minutes prior to your schedule appointment time to allow for paperwork processing and review of your required documentation mentioned above.
    • You must speak and understand enough of the English language to communicate with the Examiner during the road test.
    • You must provide your own vehicle for use during the road test with all the operational equipment and safety features as outlined in the next section on vehicle inspection.
    • If you are five (5) minutes or more late for your appointment time, your test will be cancelled and you will need to reschedule for a later date.
    • The Department of Safety reserves the right to cancel road test appointments for emergency situations or dangerous weather conditions. Road tests will be given in light to moderate rain, fog or snow. However, they will NOT be given in heavy rain, thunderstorms, thick fog cover, when roads are flooded, covered/packed with snow and ice, during severe weather warnings (i.e. tornado) or other similarly dangerous driving situations.

2. Pre-Trip Vehicle Inspection

The motor vehicle you bring for the road test must meet all Tennessee motor vehicle registration (valid tags) and safety law requirements and have equipment in proper working order. In addition, applicants will be asked to demonstrate their ability to use each of the following eight items.

Safety Belts. Any passenger motor vehicle manufactured or assembled in 1969 or later must be equipped with safety belts and must be in good usable condition for both the applicant and the examiner.

Brakes. (Emergency and regular). By law all automobiles must have two separate methods of applying brakes. They must have a regular foot brake and a parking brake.

Headlights. (High and low beam). Motor vehicles must be equipped with at least two headlights but no more than four white headlights.

Tail and Brake Lights. Passenger vehicles must be equipped with a rear license light, two red tail lights, and two red brake lights.

Windshield Wipers. Every vehicle equipped with a windshield should have two (2) windshield wipers for cleaning rain or any other moisture in order to permit clear vision for the driver, unless one (1) wiper cleans to within one (1) inch of the inside of the windshield.

Windshield Defroster and Fan Control. Applicants need to be able to demonstrate how to ‘defog’ the windshield.

Rearview Mirrors. The vehicle must have at least one rearview mirror not interfering with the driver’s view of the rear. For applicants with certain vision or hearing impairments, two outside rearview mirrors are also required.

Horns. A horn is required on all motor vehicles.

Also required:

Windows and windshields. Clear vision for the driver is required to the front, rear and both sides. It is unlawful to drive a motor vehicle with a windshield that is so cracked, or covered with steam or frost that clear vision is prevented.

No tinting material may be affixed to the windshield of any motor vehicle. Standards for the other windows depend on the vehicle as follows:

Passenger Car. No material which transmits less than 35% of visible light may be attached to any window.

Multi-Purpose Vehicles: All windows behind the front seat are exempt. Windows immediately to the left and right of the driver must comply the same as for passenger vehicles.

Mufflers. Every vehicle must be equipped with a muffler to prevent excessive or unusual noises and polluting smoke.

Doors. Both the driver door and the passenger door must open from the inside and the outside.

Bumpers. Passenger cars must have bumpers which are within a range of 14 to 22 inches from the ground; 4×4 recreational vehicles must have bumpers with a range of 14 to 31 inches.

Speedometer. Every vehicle must have a working speedometer in order to gauge vehicle speed.

3. The Driving Test

The examiner will give you directions and evaluate whether or not you can drive safely. You will not be asked to do anything illegal. The only people allowed in the vehicle are you and the examiner (or other authorized personnel). No animal may be in the vehicle.

During the test, the examiner will be observing the following: 1. How you prepare to drive. Have you checked your

mirrors, fastened your safety belt, turned on any necessary

lights or wipers?

  1. How you start your vehicle. Do you look for other cars? Do you signal and wait until it is safe before entering traffic?
  2. How you control your vehicle. Do you accelerate smoothly? Do you use your gas pedal, brake, steering wheel, and other controls correctly? Handle curves properly?
  3. How you handle intersections and make left and right turns. Are you in the proper lane? Do you look both left and right for approaching vehicles? Do you make sure your path is clear before proceeding? Do you simply rely on the traffic signals? Do you signal and change lanes carefully?
  4. How you obey the traffic signals and posted signs.
  5. How you drive in traffic. Do you pay full attention to driving? Do you scan carefully for signs, signals, pedestrians and other vehicles? Do you yield and take the right-of-way correctly?
  6. How you stop. Do you stop smoothly and at the right spot? Can you stop quickly and safely in an emergency?
  7. How you back up. Do you look over your shoulder? Can you back in a straight line? Can you turn safely while backing? Can you back into/out of a parking space?
  8. How you judge distance. Do you maintain a safe distance from other cars?
  9. How you communicate to other drivers. Do you make sudden changes, or signal too late or too early? Do you slow down as early as it is safe to do so, or do you catch other drivers by surprise?
  10. How you share the road with others. Are you courteous and watchful?
  11. How you change your speed to suit the situation. Do you take into account the speed limit, other cars, light, weather and road conditions?

4. Causes for Immediate Failure

The applicant will be failed immediately for any of the following:

• Violation of any traffic law
• Lack of cooperation or refusal to follow directions • Any dangerous action
• Contributing to an accident

5. When You Don’t Pass the Road Test

Upon completion of the driving test, the examiner will advise you of your errors, how to correct them, and what maneuvers you should practice to improve your driving skill. You should review the related material and/or practice the driving skills before returning. Applicants who do not successfully pass the skills test on the first attempt or subsequent attempts are not permitted to take the examination again on the same day.

Applicants may be allowed to re-test after mandatory practice times as determined by their total score (number of errors) under the guidelines in Table 4.2. These guidelines are designed to encourage the applicant to thoroughly practice their driving skills and cut down on repeat visits by applicants who are not yet prepared for the examination.

Guidelines for Retesting Table: 4.2

NOTE: The guidelines established above will also be applied to wait times between additional re-testing opportunities if applicant does not pass the examination on the second or subsequent attempts.

PARENTS Be sure to review Section C-4 starting at page 116 of this manual. It provides helpful information to assist you and your teen in learning to drive as well as a useful driving experience log that has been recommended by many parents and safety advocate groups.