Your Regular Pre-Drive Manual
First, let's start with the driving position. Both hands on the wheel is not a boring advice coming from your car instructor, but a necessity. It can really improve your car's handling, stability on high speeds and makes it easier to corner properly without the risk of doing a full steering-wheel cycle with only one hand. What's wrong with the one-hand technique is that it doesn't provide you with enough handling precision at high speeds and makes it uncomfortable for the driver to turn the wheel on short corners.
When seated, your feet should be able to reach the pedals without your legs being fully extended. Most automotive specialists consider the best knee angle is 90 to up to 100 degrees. This way, when applying the necessary force on the brake or acceleration pedals, your leg (and especially the knee) would be up to the challenge. If the distance between your knee and the pedals is too big, then you'd really have to stretch your leg to reach it and the pressure on the pedals would be less efficient.
Also, you wouldn't want to lower your headrest too far to the back, despite the illusion of comfort expressed by certain drivers out there. The correct position of your back should allow you to touch the top point of the wheel with your wrists. That means you have the necessary distance between body and dashboard to apply an efficient pressure on the steering wheel when turning, as well as control the gear lever properly.
Then, after you'll have set the right driving position, it's time to fix your mirrors. Make sure there aren't any obstacles placed on the rear side of the car to interfere with your back vision. When setting up the outside mirrors, take under consideration to limit your dead angle as much as possible (unless your car is equipped with a reflective dead angle vision device).
If rainy, make sure you wipe your shoes very well before getting into the car. This is the best way to avoid slippery problems when having to press either the brake or acceleration pedal. Also, regarding your regular driving shoes, it should be as plain as possible to insure a good foot-pedal contact area and improved grip.
Also, make sure you check for ID, driving license and registration (depending on the country, one might need the entire set when stopped by the police) before hitting the road. Then proceed to fasten your seatbelt and turn on the key. Take a minute to look on the dashboard and check for unexpected problems on your lighting system, wipers or oil/fuel level.
You should always have a spare light bulb in your car to prevent situations when, having to leave home at night, one of your headlights doesn't work. Replacing it is not that big of a deal and saves you from lots of unnecessary headaches. Also keep an extra ounces of oil in the trunk, in case car's dashboard lighting system notifies you of low oil pressure (try our How To Prepare for Long-Distance Drives article for more info on how to change a light bulb or check out oil pressure).
If, after all these checking procedures, everything is OK and there are no warning sounds within 5 seconds after turning the key on, disengage the handbrake (if pulled) and start your car. Have a nice day!