By on June 5, 2014

driversed-evolution

I flunked driver’s ed. That’s no joke.

It’s true. I write about and review cars and the first time that I took driver’s ed I flunked. How’s that for irony? Now I’m not like that Korean lady who spent a fortune repeatedly failing her driver’s test before finally passing on the 950th try. The next time I took it, I passed, then passed my road test, got my license and never had a problem on the road.

So how did I flunk driver’s ed?

NCdriversed_1200

When I was a teenager, school districts still had enough money to offer driver’s ed as an after school or summer course. Car companies and dealers had enough money to donate mid-size sedans to those same school districts. I suppose it was good PR, what with doing their civic duty and all. I’m sure there were tax write offs available as well. Of course exposing a new generation of drivers to you product line was part of the motivation as well. So the first car that I drove was a 1970 Dodge Coronet, blue if I recall correctly, just like the four door pictured in the sales brochure below. I tried finding a current photo of one, but per our EIC pro tempore’s “Grand National Problem“, it seems that most old Coronets around today are Super Bee and R/T models (or clones). Of course the first car that I drove didn’t have a big block V8. It had a 318 if I recall correctly.

6270594177_cee0fae69a_z

Regardless of the engine’s displacement, it was the first car that I drove (the homebrew go-kart my older brother and I built doesn’t count). No ‘borrowing’ my parents’ cars after they were asleep, or bugging a friend to let me drive, the first day of driver’s ed was the first time that I’d been behind the wheel. Make that the second time. When I was seven and we were at my aunt’s house. I was playing in the car in the driveway, pulled it out of gear and managed to turn it right into a parked car as gravity took over and I couldn’t reach the brakes.

I was inexperienced and nervous the first few times that our Driver’s Ed class went out on the road, but I was picking it up. I figured that once I got my learner’s permit, I’d get more comfortable in traffic, which is what eventually happened, but not for another year and a half.

Cooney's Driver's ed

The problem was that the driver’s ed teacher was a truly stupid and alcoholic phys ed teacher who got off on flunking a smart kid. Mr X was what I’d call a typical phys ed teacher in the 1960s or 1970s. A high school and college athlete who wasn’t smart enough to coach or do anything beyond grunt work in the real world, so he got his degree in physical education and a job at the local high school. He made his peace with the world by making sure all the nerds and smart kids got clobbered by the jocks in dodge ball, while he sipped “coffee” from a Thermos. Not qualified to really teach any serious academic subjects, not smart enough to teach shop, he supplemented his income like some of the other duller teachers by teaching typing and driver’s ed.

I don’t mean to disparage all teachers. When I said “stupid teachers” I’m not saying they all were stupid, I’m talking about the small number of less than intelligent teachers. As a matter of fact my high school had some really outstanding teachers. My Algebra-Trig teacher, Mr. Parnes, was brilliant, as was Mrs. Politzer, a science instructor who had done some of the early work isolating amino acids. Along with those fine pedagogues was my 11th grade chemistry teacher. He understood the topic well enough to teach it at a high school level but I relished the idea that I earned my A and didn’t pay for it with a fifth of booze like some of my classmates. I don’t know if he drank on the clock like Mr. X did.

So Mr. X was a big dumb lug and somehow I survived his phys ed class. I’m not a gifted athlete and I have trouble making a layup (let alone dunk at 5’6″) but I’m not uncoordinated and I think I got a B or C. Mr. X had very firm rules for grading. If you were a varsity athlete, you got an A (and get to run around the locker room rubbing your junk on the non-jocks while the phys ed teacher laughed). Everyone else got B’s or C’s depending on how much Mr. X resented your intelligence. While I was in high school, all the valedictorians were girls because all the smart boys got downgraded in PE.

YouTube Preview Image

So in the summer between my sophomore and junior years, when I was old enough to sign up for driver’s ed and found out Mr. X was the instructor, I knew it wasn’t going to be fun, but I had no idea just how much some teachers resent smart kids.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

I don’t know what driver’s ed is like today, I guess they must use driving sims on computers by now. As early as the 1950s there were mechanical driving simulators that were synchronized with film strips but our school district didn’t use them We had classroom work with books, film strips and tests, along with practical driving instruction and practice on the road. Back then it was fairly common for driver’s ed and even regular students to have to watch gory auto safety movies, but I don’t recall us having to watch any gore. However, the course was horrific enough for me. I discovered that with each additional 98, 99, or 100% score that I got on the classroom work, Mr. X got more and more critical when I was behind the wheel, while giving me less and less wheel time, far less than any of the other students.

sim1

So I flunked. I was completely mortified. I could already do some basic wrenching on our cars, as mentioned I built a go-kart with my brother, helped my friends work on their cars, followed racing since I was young, had a four lane slot car set (thanks to dad and a connection at a wholesale toy distributor), knew what understeer and oversteer were and just exactly why they taught us to “steer into a skid” (i.e. use opposite lock), and I flunked driver’s ed.

It was a bit of a hassle. All my friends had their licenses, a couple had their own cars, and I was stuck bumming rides, having my dad drive me, or worse, getting there late because my mom has never been on time in her life. The hassle was compounded when due to budget cuts I wasn’t able to get back into a driver’s ed class till the middle of my senior year. This time around I had another one of the school’s lesser teachers, but he was more interested in actually teaching us how to drive than acting like a bully. I passed the course, got my learner’s permit, then passed the road test given by the infamous Great White Whale. That’s what all the kids called the rather large lady in charge of road tests at the Secretary of State’s office that was around the block from my house. She was reputed to not pass a lot of new drivers but in fact nobody that I knew whom she tested didn’t get their license.

4a658076a252f8581e16086076384191

We had a spare car so the SS in name only 1966 Impala SS was mine for a few months till I left to spend the summer at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Actually, that Chevy pretty much died when my dad tried to drive me to NYC for my flight. My brother joined us. We made it as far as Toledo before the 283 started overheating. We managed to limp home and instead took my older brother’s first car, a convertible Buick Special. He’d kept the Buick ragtop after buying a Lotus Cortina. It was June and not many mid-60s sedans had A/C, let alone convertibles.  If you had a sedan, on long trips you used “4/80 Air” – open up all four windows (and vent wings – remember vent wings?) and go 80 mph. Most cars then also had some kind of vents in the kick panels  that let in some fresh air. There was a time when “flow through ventilation” was high tech. Since it was a ragtop, dad just drove the 600 miles to NYC with the top down, sun permitting. After years of driving though Canada and then down the NY Thruway on our way to visit his relatives in and around NYC, my dad loved how much time the new Interstate 80 took off the trip. I think we made it in a tick over 10 hours.

When you buy a convertible they don’t tell you about too things, you don’t really want to drop the top on hot sunny day and you’re going to need shampoo. By the time we got to Brooklyn I think the only time that my hair has been dirtier has been when I’ve had to wash oil or transmission fluid out of it. When I got back to the States to go to the University of Michigan that fall the Chevy had been junked. I bought a Honda 90 “Super Cub”. Fine for around A Squared and just powerful enough to take back roads back to Detroit now and then. I rode the 90 for a year, upgraded to a Honda 305 the next year and when I decided to get a car, I used the monetary gifts from my Bar Mitzvah to buy a ’66 Lotus Elan that I still have, in pieces, in my ex’s garage. By then big brother had already dealt with iron-oxide alloy on a Lotus Cortina and a Mini Cooper, and I didn’t want something that would disintegrate. It was just after the first oil crisis of 1973. Besides my brother’s Cortina, a friend had already traded in his ’72 Montego MX with a 351 Cobra Jet for a new Lotus Europa Special for gas mileage reasons, and I’d already been reading the buff books for years so I was more than a little familiar with the brand.

Learning To Drive

The first car that I bought was a Lotus and I flunked driver’s ed. Wrap your head around that.

I think that I’m a decent driver. I’ve gotten less than a half dozen moving violations in all the years I’ve been driving, never caused a serious accident, certainly nothing hazarding life or limb, mine or anyone else’s, and whatever accidents I’ve had have been very minor.

Still, I have to hang my head in shame and admit that I didn’t get my driver’s license till I was 17 because I flunked driver’s ed.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

78 Comments on “Auto Biography: I Flunked Driver’s Ed...”


  • avatar
    -Nate

    A fun read , I can’t wait for the comments to roll in .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I did my driver’s ed in summer of 2002, and it was just as yours was. Summer class with books and videos and worksheets. There was no simulator, only real practice in a “real” car (eh, base Cavalier). The class cost extra (I want to say about $350-400), which my mom made me pay for at age 16. My Audi 5000S was already waiting at home for me to drive, when I got my permit. I had been working as a Cashier at Kroger for two years by that time to earn the cash ($5.25/hr min wage – union dues).

    However Ronnie, this article needs a fair amount of error editing and correction, for the record.

    Also, why is everyone always against you? You’re smart so they’re against you. You’re a Jew so they’re against you. You’re a man so they’re against you. Cops, teachers, authority, government. It’s a broken record already!

    • 0 avatar
      Stumpaster

      Bitter, party of one!

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Make that two. I’m not smart or Jewish, but (almost) everybody’s against me too.

        I avoided the drivers’ ed lunkheads by not taking drivers’ ed, though. I got a learner’s permit by taking a test at the RMV, and upgraded to a license a month later after a seven minute road test in which I expertly (luckily) avoided being involved in an accident with two near-misses that could have broadsided the passenger side of the car.

        The tester cut the road test short and signed off on the license, probably figuring he’d be better off if my luck ran out without him in the passenger seat. When my older sister, whose car I was driving, saw us return so early and saw the tester’s face, she thought I’d flunked. I never told her about the near-misses.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Our Driver’s Ed instructor was a science teacher. He was still pretty useless (in both classrooms) but at least he didn’t have the long knives out for the smarter kids.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Thinking back, most of our PE instructors were fairly harmless and I was lucky enough to go two years with the one that was actually good. He’d figured out that not every kid had the aptitude to play basketball (no matter how tall they were) and worked on development and, sometimes, having fun. He also did a pre-Driver’s Ed segment in PE and had some funny stories for us about his own experiences.

      He was a genuinely nice guy and, although I’m still fairly hopeless in most sports, I actually learned quite a few things the two years I was in his PE classes.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    No problem with driver’s ed, but I did flunk my first driving test, because I ran a stop sign. The problem was that the stop sign (at an intersection of small residential streets) was so completely obscured by overgrown bushes that it was impossible to see until your hood was already into the intersection. I later learned that the particular examiner I had flunked everyone once, using that exact same spot. I went back two weeks later, as soon as they would let me, and got 100% on the next try with the same examiner.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    Ronnie-

    Did you go to High School in one of the Detroit Public Schools? My parents and most Eastsiders their age talk about Driver’s Ed at Denby High School. I think they teach Drive By Driver’s Ed over there now.

    • 0 avatar

      No, my older sister went to Henry Ford II, on Evergreen just south of Eight Mile. We moved to the north part of Oak Park in early 1966, after she started high school so my parents paid tuition to the DPS so she didn’t have to finish at a different school. DPS schools were among the best in the country in the 1960s.

      My older brother, my younger sister and I all went to Berkley HS for our secondary educations.

      • 0 avatar
        Went to Berkley

        I KNOW EXACTLY who Mr. X is/was because I had EXACTLY the same experience with him. Mr. X flunked me as well. When I started reading the article I thought to myself wow this sounds so familiar. When I saw your references to Mr. Parnes and Mrs. Politzer that clinched it! They both were truly wonderful and consider myself very fortunate to have had both of them for teachers. Mr. X well what can I say … not so much.

        Seems like we have a lot in common: Berkley, Parnes, Politzer, flunked driver’s ed,, and the University of Michigan.

        Loved the post. Brought a laugh to my day. Thanks for sharing.

        • 0 avatar

          Thanks so much for your comment. What year did you graduate?

          Berkley wasn’t the first time that Helene Politzer was my teacher, she taught me junior high science for three years at Hillel. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that most of what I know about science is because of her. A magnificent teacher and a very cool lady. She’s still alive and lives in the same building at Hechtman II where my mom now lives. I’d visit her but from the visitors’ sign-in sheet it looks like she’s got a full-time aide and I’m not sure she’d remember me.

          There were some crappy teachers at Berkley but I’d say that there were many more outstanding ones. We benefited from pre-feminist American education, when the smartest women went into education. They may have been denied career opportunities in other professions (or they may have wanted jobs that dovetailed with family life), but we benefited from the fact that they became teachers. I’m not sure who was smarter, Arthur Parnes, or his wife. Mrs. Adelman, who taught me calculus was a great teacher and I forget right now who my physics teacher was, but she was pretty sharp too.

          It kind of bugged me that other high schools in the area got elite reputations but Berkley was considered a lesser place because of the more middle and working class socio-economics of Berkley itself, but there were a bunch of great teachers there and a solid core of very smart students. Socio-economically it was also a bit more diverse than nearby schools like Oak Park and Southfield-Lathrup, maybe even ethnically too, since when I was in HS, those two schools were overwhelmingly Jewish. Berkley had a nice mix of middle and upper middle class kids from north Oak Park, affluent kids from Huntington Woods, and middle class and working class kids from Berkley.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    “…a truly stupid and alcoholic phys ed teacher who got off on flunking a smart kid.”

    Yeah, that pretty much describes the jock-douchebag-football-coach-turned-resentful-gym-teacher at my high school. He was under the impression that his only purpose in life was to take the team to state.

    However, our driver’s ed teacher was this, shall we say, “questionable” guy who had a concealed weapons permit and carried a gun while he conducted driving practice.

    He knew every seedy hot dog joint and biker bar in town and would take us on truly epic, day-long road trips about the region during the summer classes he taught.

    Including to the bad parts of town, which is why he had the gun. It was great.

    Hell, one time he made one of my classmates drive him over to a titty bar and wait in the parking lot for half an hour while he got a lap dance.

    I actually failed my first driving test when I was 16. My dad and I went down to the State Police station so I could take the test.

    After I passed the written test, I went out to our car, buckled myself into the driver’s seat and waited for the trooper who was administering the test to begin. He waived me forward to the line, and promptly failed me.

    For operating a motor vehicle without being accompanied by a licensed driver.

    My dad saw the whole thing and was, shall we say, not pleased with the cop.

    My dad is a Vietnam Veteran, a former Marine and an intellectual with a great passion for American History. He would’ve made a superb college professor, but he could never get a teaching position because he isn’t a Marxist.

    What I got to watch over the next five minutes was my dad chew this Pennsylvania State Trooper’s ass for what he not-so-delicately described as entrapment.

    When he wants to, my dad can do this full-blown R. Lee Ermey drill-instructor impression, but with absolutely no profanity, slang, sexual references or poor grammar.

    He’s done it to me a precious few times in my life, and the effect is terrifying, mostly because he believes that a raised voice is a indicator of failed communication.

    When he was done with the State Trooper, he decided to head up the ladder a few notches. That cop must’ve really pissed him off, because he ended up talking to some regional State Police commander about it.

    It was worth having to take the test a second time just to see.

    My dad taught me that as long as you don’t swear and display an above-average command of the language, you can pretty much say anything to anyone.

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      “My dad is a Vietnam Veteran, a former Marine and an intellectual with a great passion for American History. He would’ve made a superb college professor, but he could never get a teaching position because he isn’t a Marxist.”

      Your thoughts are very, uh, *interesting*…

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      That’s interesting. Your dad wasted 5 minutes getting “in your face” with a trooper, who declined to reverse his decision, and then more time elsewhere when he could have spent twenty seconds reinforcing the lesson you might have learned which is, sometimes, the cops are not your friends.

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        Oh, I learned that lesson on my own over the next few years, and quite permanently.

        We spent the ride home discussing just how far the necessity of police, as a social institution, goes.

        I think what pissed him off was a sense of betrayal. My dad grew up in a time and place (1950s and 1960s middle-class suburbia) where the common man could almost always trust the police not to be dicks, and not to pull cheap stunts at the expense of citizens.

        That’s essentially what he told that trooper’s supervisor – that the trooper’s actions made him unworthy of the badge, the uniform and the power and trust that both represented.

    • 0 avatar
      raresleeper

      No, no, no.

      I don’t yell at cops, state troopers, or the like. I don’t want a ticket, or any problems by the local or state PD. Nor do they want any problems with me.

      I pay my taxes and at the end of the day, I go home and relax. I am always on good terms with the police. Their job is difficult enough, trust me (which can easily spark a hot debate about cops being good, bad, et cetera, and hopefully WW3 was not just kicked off by my appreciation for law enforcement).

      You seem to be scared/leary of the teacher who was carrying a gun. I dunno why that is, if Pops was a Marine especially. We’ve got no less than two Marines in my family and firearms are a part of everyday life. Nothing to get obsessive and weird about, neither nothing to be ignored, they’re just a part of everyday life. A tool, if you will.

      None the less, it sounds like you’ve got some interesting beer stories there, Chief.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    We had the in-class part of driver’s ed for a month or so in health class in 10th grade (boring movies, no Blood on the Highways for us), then we did the in-car part whenever we were old enough and paid the $$$. My instructor was neither a drunk nor an asshole, but otherwise not so dissimilar. Grading was pretty lackadaisical: you passed if you didn’t run into anything or kill anyone. Saddest part was that the driver’s ed car was about a year younger than I was.

  • avatar

    Well I flunked mine 8 times, the driving test. The theoretical, physical and psychological tests I passed the first time. I do have that!

    My problem is that I had been driving since I was 14 in the countryside. Our family had a house in the country and we went there a lot. In those days there was very little police in that country place and very little movement, so I learned to drive when I was 14 and as my parents gained confidence in me I started driving there more and more. By the time I was 16, whenever we were there, anything involving driving, I was the driver.

    So at 18 (legal driving age in Brazil) I started the process to get my driver’s license and I took a while because when I was 18 I started driving in the city too. I only did so during the day and at night I’d park the car and go out in friends’ cars (much better as I could drink).

    So by the time I got to the driving test, I was driving like people normally do. And the driving test at that time was rather “limited” and involved following a set of tests that I, who had never really had formal driving instruction was not aware of and that people on the street never did. Things like using hand signals (!), never passing fourth, placing your hand behind the headrest of the passenger’s seat when reversing etc. When I finally got all those little things down, I passed. On my 8th try.

    BTW Ronnie, I was much more precocious than you. My first car accident I was 3 or 4! My dad was taking me to school, got in the car, turned it on, then realized he had forgotten something in the apartment upstairs. Being the 70s he decided to let the car warming up. Of course, no child seat for me, so I hopped onto the driver’s seat, and somehow managed to slide the car into first and accelerate. I hit the wall some way away hard enough to have to fix it and the car. The detail was that this was a manual car.

    Thanks for bringing back the memories.

  • avatar
    Kaosaur

    Not likely, but maybe your teacher was trying to do you a favor.

    The survival rate for teen drivers is pretty grim.

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      Define “grim”. Motor vehicle deaths for drivers under the age of 26 have been declining for the past decade. Gun deaths for the same age group have not. The projected totals for this year indicate that as many young people (i.e. – under 26 years old) will die from gunshot wounds as will die in motor vehicle accidents. The approximate number of deaths attributable to each cause is 6,000. Considering that teens aged 15-19 comprise about 3.75% of the US population (314 million), there is a pool of 11,775,000 potential teen drivers. Since the fatality statistics I have consider the entire population under the age of 26, 6,000 motor vehicle deaths is a conservative number. If all 6,000 motor vehicle deaths occurred among the potential teen population of the US, the fatality rate would be 0.05%. Is that “grim” to you?

      • 0 avatar
        Kaosaur

        At the time when he would have taken Driver’s Ed…

        Cars are a lot safer now than they were in the 70s/80s, sure.

        • 0 avatar
          319583076

          Well, 18 year olds could legally buy and consume booze in some places back then. Implicitly – younger kids would do the same, or be more likely to ride as passengers with an impaired teen driver. In any case, I would argue that the fatality rate on our roadways has never approached “grim”. Fatality rates of infantry in the US Civil War or WW1 are grim. A fraction of a percent of the population? Not grim.

          • 0 avatar
            Kaosaur

            Of deaths of teenagers aged 12-19 between 1999 and 2006, 48% were caused by Unintentional Injury of which 73% of those involved a motor vehicle traffic accident.

            That makes deaths by motor vehicle in that demographic greater than both suicide and homicide combined.

            http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db37.pdf

            Seems pretty grim to me.

          • 0 avatar
            319583076

            People have and will continue to die. Report deaths as a percentage of the population for some perspective. It’s a whole lot more emotional to report 73% of teen deaths involved a motor vehicle than it is to report deaths in context. i.e. -From the CDC
            •An average of 16,375 teenagers 12-19 years died in the United States every year from 1999 to 2006. This is less than 1 percent of all deaths that occur every year in the United States.
            •The five leading causes of death among teenagers are Accidents (unintentional injuries), homicide, suicide, cancer, and heart disease. Accidents account for nearly one-half of all teenage deaths.
            •As a category of accidents, motor vehicle fatality is the leading cause of death to teenagers, representing over one-third of all deaths.
            •Among teenagers, non-Hispanic black males have the highest death rate (94.1 deaths per 100,000 population).

            Sure, if Sally ends up a dead teen, it’s probable that a motor vehicle was involved. However, the risk that Sally ends up a dead teen is extremely low. i.e. – Teen deaths from ALL causes amount to less than 1% (misleading, it’s actually about 0.65% of total annual deaths) of total annual deaths in the US. The risk that Sally ends up a dead teen in motor vehicle accident is even lower.

            If that’s grim to you, we live in different worlds.

          • 0 avatar
            Kaosaur

            So it’s not exceptional that the leading cause of death amongst teenagers is motor vehicle accidents because it’s almost exclusively young black males that are dying?

            Got it. It appears I left my bed sheets at home for this party, sorry.

            Maybe I was just lucky. Perhaps the fact that I didn’t need to drive because I was not poor enough to need a car (and to drive myself) to get anywhere is a factor.

          • 0 avatar
            319583076

            OK. Your understanding of risk was in question, now your reading comprehension and ability to follow an argument are in question. It’s odd to me that you twisted the bullets into some sort of implied racism on my part. Those bullets were copied verbatim from the CDC website. Race and mortality are not correlated in those bullets, although it may be acceptable to infer that the highest-risk demographic are more likely to die in motor vehicle accidents. But, that’s not explicit. I have not made any explicit or implicit statement that correlates to any sub-group of age groups that I have mentioned or used to support my position.

            My point remains this: in terms of the total US population, the teen mortality rate is vanishingly small. This point was made on my part with written arguments supplemented by mathematical operations on widely available data. Your claim is that teen drivers face a “grim” situation. For which, you’ve provided no compelling arguments nor support other than (in my assesment)a weakly constructed emotionally-based appeal casually augmented by some rather imprecise numbers. I have presumed you mean “grim” in the sense of “depressing or worrying to consider”. While I might concede that the fact young people die is “grim” (although I may not concede it – we will all die). I maintain that young people driving – as a population – is not depressing, worrying, or grim. The overwhelmingly vast majority of young drivers simply do not die in motor vehicle accidents.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “Your understanding of risk was in question”

            You aren’t exactly excelling at it yourself.

            “The overwhelmingly vast majority of young drivers simply do not die in motor vehicle accidents.”

            The vast majority of cigarette smokers don’t die of lung cancer. But that doesn’t mean that smoking is a safe activity or that it isn’t linked to increased cancer risk.

            Teen drivers drive poorly, and they have higher fatality rates per mile/km that reflect their increased risk compared to other age groups.

            But you have to gather the right data and then place that data into context in order to understand the problem and how to analyze it. Simply dividing the number of teen deaths in auto crashes by the total number of teens is facile and not helpful.

          • 0 avatar
            319583076

            Facile? Perhaps, but given the wholly unsupported claim that initiated this discussion, I claim that my insight is better than his. And, maybe you should polish your walls prior to grabbing your bucket of stones, he claimed the survival rate of teen drivers is grim, not that it is risky. Survival rate implies risk of death, driving risk encompasses all sorts of other things.

            But, I’ve noticed that a favorite tactic of the B&B is to say something stupid and then start defining or re-defining terms after the challenge appears.

            Godspeed, tall poppy!

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “I claim that my insight is better than his”

            Your other claims weren’t particularly good, so why should this one be any different?

            For a guy who believes that he has insights on risk, it’s odd how you don’t have any. Your choice of comparisons is a big hint that you don’t quite get it.

    • 0 avatar
      TheyBeRollin

      If it was more than a tiny percentage, there would be a law against it. As it is, they keep ratcheting up the age limits in almost every state and further restricting what young drivers can do in cars, up to and including driving friends with them.

      Isn’t this also true for older new drivers, though? I thought there was some distinct drop in accidents after something like 10 years behind the wheel. I thought that was why your insurance rates drop so greatly around 25 years old…

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      You claim: “The survival rate for teen drivers is pretty grim.”

      US Census figures indicate there are approximately 20 million teens in the US. CDC figures indicate that approximately 2,700 teens died in motor vehicle accidents in 2010.

      I assume 10% of teens are “drivers”, i.e. – there are 2 million teen drivers in a given year. The mortality rate for these drivers is 2,700/2,000,000 = 0.00135. Let’s round up and call it 0.14%. Inversely, the survival rate for teen drivers is 99.86%. For comparison, the US infant mortality rate is published as 5.2 deaths per 1000 births, giving a mortality rate of 0.52%, nearly four times greater than the teen driver mortality rate. However, note that the infant survival rate is 99.48% which is virtually identical to the teen driver survival rate (there’s a 0.4% difference against the infant survival rate).

      Do you still think the survival rate for teen drivers is grim? How do you characterize the infant mortality rate?

    • 0 avatar
      jimbob457

      @Kaosaur

      Your comment points to a significant shortcoming in the US driver training system – 16 year olds get an unrestricted drivers license long before they have enough wheel time. The typical course in Driver Education is not nearly enough. You can see this in the much higher car insurance rates for 16-17 year olds plus the higher accident rates for this age group. They are loose on the road before they have learned to drive.

      With my three kids the solution was to take them out on country back roads for hours of practice. This is what my Dad did for me back in the day. Once they were comfortable there, I followed with supervised in-town and highway driving with emphasis on defensive driving instruction. The kids loved the attention, and they all have perfect driving records so far. Knock on wood.

      A friend of mine addressed the problem by taking his 16 year old to a race track and buying a course in race track driving from professional instructors. Kinda expensive, but it was effective.

      Imo, making sure your teenagers know how to drive is just part of proper parenting.

  • avatar
    55_wrench

    I got my license in ’73. Overall in the High School training part of it, it was a good experience. Our instructor was a PE coach, but not one of the jerk jocks..He actually told us that statistically, every one of us would end up in a car accident sometime in our driving careers. He was right (in my case) anyway. Thanks, Mr. Wightman for the heads-up!

    We trained on the Plymouth Valiant simulators, and got the real seat time in a brand-new ’72 Caprice. Thy had just opened I-280 between San Jose and San Francisco and we had a legal posted speed limit of 70. Good times floating THAT boat.

    It got tough down at the Los Gatos DMV. There was a big, crew-cut dude that was legendary for flunking everybody the first time around. Once we became the wiser for whatever we did wrong, we usually got it the second time.

    Between the great auto shop we had back then and Driver’s Ed,lots of us ended up being pretty accomplished gearheads. I feel sorry for the kids who don’t have that opportunity these days.

    • 0 avatar

      We had a very nice auto shop at Gunn in Palo Alto. I was a few years before you. But I got my license on the opposite side of the country, the year before we lived in Palo Alto. No horror stories about any of it. The driving instructor at my private school in the Boston area was real laid back, and I suspect it would have been just as good at Gunn.

      But my main driving instructor was Dad. From when I was 6. Taking the driver’s ed course got a reduction in insurance costs.

      I did drive 30 in a 25 during the driving test, but he gave it to me anyway. The aged Falcon had some trouble getting giong in the frigid january weather and I gunned it a bit to make sure it didn’t stall out.

  • avatar
    ragtopman

    My dad was my primary driving instructor. He taught me on my mom’s ’65 Comet with a three-speed manual. I don’t know how many times I killed the engine from a start with that clutch, but it was at least twice — both on road tests that would procure my long-dreamed-of license to drive. Of course, I choked when trying to start on a steep uphill grade from a full-stop.
    Not the thing to do, with all-business state official in the passenger’s seat jotting down even the tiniest error.

  • avatar
    readallover

    My Drivers Ed teacher was a really nice guy, he had one rule: Do not kill him. We`d get a car, usually a Pontiac Ventura (badge engineered Nova) with the inline 6 and drive to Fred Meyer so he could buy his cigarettes and coffee. From there we`d drive all over, he hated driving the same route and he thought teachers who did it were stupid because we needed as many different experiences as possible. My most memorable moment was in downtown Everett when he told me:“take the next left`. So I did – and ended up going the wrong way on a one way street. I later learned he did this to students all the time. And I still look for the one-way signs.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    I failed the first time miserably.

    Nobody told me there is an invisible stop sign line that runs from the stop sign post to the other side of the street, and if the front of the car passes that “invisible line”, FAIL. Instant fail.

    The aggressive obese female instructor told me everything short of “dam, you suck” on the way back to the office.

    The second time I took my test (literally one or two days later), I drove my dad’s 94 Seville SLS. It was hot as hell outside, I had the cold air blasting, and the old lady literally was trying to get me to go on a date with her grand daughter. I mean pulled out pictures as I was driving.

    Obviously, that second time… I passed.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    We had the same Driver’s Ed cars as you did, Dodge Coronets. Must have been standard issue then. By the time I took Driver’s Ed I pretty much had the driving thing figured out. I had a lot of older friends who’s cars I had driven often, so when it was my turn at the wheel Coach would do a crossword puzzle as I drove aimlessly around the neighborhood. I passed, when I went for my license I did a dumb thing, I forget to put my glasses on which I had to wear to drive. Once the test started I didn’t want to put them on for fear of being flunked for forgetting. The cop didn’t notice the restriction and I passed, but I sure couldn’t see

    I found a pic of a similar Coronet

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/53/Dodge_Coronet_Sedan_1970.jpg

  • avatar
    CobraJet

    My teacher was our shop teacher who had previously been a coach. We drove a new 68 Plymouth Fury sedan. There were always three students in the car, one of which was behind the wheel with Coach in the front passenger seat. I was driving in the city and was first at a red light in the right lane. Coach said make a left at the next red light. I said I don’t think I can get over in the left lane, too much traffic. Coach said when the light turns green, get on it and move to the left lane. When the light turned green, I floored it. The Fury burned rubber and I got ahead of the other cars and made it to the left lane. People around us were shocked to see such a manuver by a car with Drivers Education signs on the doors. Coach just smiled.

  • avatar
    matador

    My Driver’s Ed was a piece of cake.

    I’d been driving on the farm for 10 years, and got along very well with the Spanish teacher who taught the class. Our written tests seemed pretty easy. One question had an answer option that said “Run down the pedestrian”. I wish I checked that box and erased it.

    He taught everyone the skills they needed and did quite well at it. The Taurus we had from the school broke down, so he let us use his F-150 once to give wheel time to a new driver in the class. He cared that much.

    • 0 avatar
      picard234

      Are you thinking of the “what do you do if there is a blind pedestrian in front of you” question? I believe one of the choices was “sound horn and accelerate.” It makes you wonder who comes up with these questions…

      • 0 avatar
        matador

        It wasn’t that question. I believe that this one was “What do you do when you enter a crosswalk with a pedestrian”, or something to that nature.

        Our tests were all 20 questions. There were at least five or six questions per test with dumb answers. That one just stuck out.

        There was a manual transmission question on how to stop and shut the vehicle off. One of the options said that you should pop the clutch to turn the engine off.

        Who writes these answer choices!?

    • 0 avatar
      grinchsmate

      I remember one question in my test.

      If the vehicle lights on fire should you,
      A) drive to the nearest fire station.
      B) speed up to blow out the flames
      C) pull off the road as soon as safely possible and exit the vehicle.

      That along with several similar questions and the frustratingly slow overenounciated recorded instructions made me think it’s more an English test than a driving test.

      • 0 avatar
        matador

        The answer’s obviously B.

        http://youtu.be/TSfn50BbV98?t=1m02s

        You did watch Memphis Belle, didn’t you.

        It’s always the longest answer of the choices, featuring way too many safety details.

  • avatar
    ArBee

    Thank God I got my license before all that driver education nonsense was compulsory. My father started breaking me in behind the wheel when I was fourteen, and two years later I qualified for my Virginia license. Later I met some driver ed teachers, and yes, they were former athletes who couldn’t find their own asses without a road map.

  • avatar
    Garak

    You have driving education at school? That’s amazing. In our progressive socialist country we have to pay ludicrous amounts of money for that privilege.

    • 0 avatar

      For the most part, American K-12 education is controlled at the local and state levels. Most cities have elected school boards that manage the public schools there. If a school district wants to spend money on offering driver’s ed, it’s their business.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        I got my license in the mid 80s, and our high school didn’t have classes so my parents taught me. And this wasn’t some small school in the sticks, this was your standard size high school in your average suburb. I got a learner’s permit then drove around the block with parents barking out commands. After a few weeks of this it was off to the DMV for a written test about traffic rules/laws and quick spin around the block. The hardest part: parallel parking. During the so-called driving part I never made it into 4th gear in my mother’s 5 speed Dodge Omni. The instructor asked if I could shift into 4th to which I replied “but then I would be speeding” as the entire test took place in a parking lot. The test had almost nothing to do with “driving” and more like how to navigate your local mall’s parking situation. This explains why are so many idiots on the road.

        I too managed to crash once during this experience. I was asked to move my grandmother’s Ford Granada, which was an automatic. Well I had been taught to drive on a manual, which doesn’t move until you give it some gas and let out the clutch – but automatics start moving as soon as you release the brake. Thus I put the car into a small bush immediately as soon as selected drive. Of course this “crash” occurred at 10 mph in a car the size and weight as the Titanic (compared to mom’s Omni) so there was no damage. To this day I’m still shocked at how quickly some automatics will go without even touching the accelerator. My first car was an automatic Mustang and it would do nearly 30 mph with zero driver input!

  • avatar
    TheyBeRollin

    It sounds like it was pretty much like the 70s when I went through it. Videos, class time explaining the rules, and reading a driver’s manual. I’m surprised that so little that changed in that time.

    Since I wasn’t in high school at the time, I took a private class at this little driver’s ed school about a half a mile from home with an extremely nervous teacher. We went over the written stuff in class over the course of a couple weeks during which we were to have 3 2-hour sessions behind the wheel. The teacher was also the owner and hated me with a passion, but I paid the fee, so he had to deal with it. I passed all the tests with no problems (none of the rules are complicated or difficult to understand). I recall the first day of driving clearly as it was the first time I had ever operated anything motorized. The driver’s ed car was a 92-ish Dodge Dynasty with a brake pedal for the front passenger. I’m guessing that driver’s ed cars have a lifespan of about 5-7 years before they must be retired, as this car was obviously close to retirement (as the teacher eluded to) and the school closed shortly thereafter, so my assumption is that he simply didn’t want to buy another and keep doing it.

    In all, I got a little over 2 hours of on-the-road instruction, but he signed me off for 6. The first time out he decided I was a bad driver and went on about it constantly as I was driving, in distinct contrast with the other students. He couldn’t deal with it anymore after about an hour. The next two times were about 30 minutes each, and he positively loved trying to fake you into doing something stupid (like turning the wrong way on a one-way, or having you do a left-turn onto one, which many people would swing wide). Unlike all his other students, I was the only one that had never operated a motor vehicle of any kind before the class (this was still a semi-rural area at the time, so it was common for kids to start driving well before they had licenses, whereas I was a recently-transplanted city boy from SoCal where driving without one simply isn’t possible).

    In that state a permit was issued to anyone that finishing an accredited education program (or was over a certain age and could pass a test), so that’s ultimately what I was paying for. I did about 3 hours total behind the wheel of a ’70 VW Transporter and an ’89 Ford Econoline in the year and a half after getting the permit since my father was vehemently opposed to my getting a license at all. You could renew the permit once and after that you had to retake driver’s ed to get another. Since this was a big expense, shortly before the second permit expired, I talked my mother into helping me get my license. She went down and rented a car with money I gave her and met me in downtown at a rental place on a Thursday evening after work, where I drove solo for the first time in a brand new ’99 Chevrolet Cavalier that I parked around the corner from the house so dad wouldn’t see it. On Friday (which I took off from work) I did 6 hours with mom driving everything from surface streets to freeways to curvy little mountain roads. Saturday afternoon was the scheduled day/time, so that morning mom took me for some more practice and then we went to the DLD. I passed my written test with 100% and did everything right for the driving test even though I was exceptionally nervous.

    My second written driver’s test was in CA after I moved back down there. There were no books for reference so I was definitely nervous since I didn’t know any of the local laws, but I still got 100% right.

    I have been involved in two accidents on public roads: Killing a fawn at 3A while towing a trailer in the aforementioned Econoline and getting rear-ended a couple months ago.

    The funny thing about my dad being opposed to my learning to drive? I’m the best driver out of all my siblings. All my siblings were involved in accidents that totaled a car within a year of getting their license, including a nearly-flawless ’63 Chevy Nova SS (my dad’s baby that he gave to his favorite son), a ’97 Pontiac Bonneville, and a ’94 Chevy Caprice (my father was opposed to any more drivers after my brothers and SIL, so it took my sister until last year at the age of 25 to get her license). My SIL that was practically an adopted child and learned to drive after marrying my brother at 16 (the brother that totaled the Nova), totaled a ’96 Buick LeSabre a little over a year after getting her license. My other brother has crashed and totaled more cars and motorcycles than I’d like to think about.

    My biggest pre-license driving mishap was in the Nova when I releasing the parking brake and shifted it into neutral, resulting in it rolling across the street into the opposite driveway when I was about 3 years old. Luckily, it came to a stop in the opposite driveway without hitting anything.

  • avatar

    BTW, so far there are three accounts on this page of kids putting cars in motion by releasing the parking brake or taking an automatic out of park. There are reasons why modern cars have interlock devices.

    • 0 avatar
      TheyBeRollin

      And I’m not the only one in my family. My brother did almost the exact same thing I did in my mother’s Ford Falcon a few years later.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      RS: “There are reasons why modern cars have interlock devices.”

      Nanny cars! Socialism runs rampant!

    • 0 avatar
      matador

      I love the lack of interlock on my 1987 Chevrolet truck.

      Heck- our 1992 Dodge Dakota (5-Speed) doesn’t have an interlock. Bump the starter and you’re off.

      The interlock is one nanny feature that most people sadly need. Those people probably shouldn’t drive, though.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I remember being pissed because when I was finally eligible to get my license, the workers who run the offices went on strike for 6 months. With the backlog, it was another 3-4 months after that until I could get an appointment. I already had my first car for some time and was just itching to drive it…legally.

  • avatar
    redmondjp

    When I took Driver’s Ed back in 1982, our high school had a portable with those same driving simulators in it as pictured above, with dashboards from some late-1960s Plymouth or Dodge. It was a hoot! There originally was a master recording system (which had long-since stopped functioning) in the back of the room which monitored your actions whilst the film was playing, and we used to fight about who got to sit at one of the two stations in the room that still had an intermittently-functioning engine sound generator.

    It’s really a shame that today’s teens won’t ever have this experience.

  • avatar
    daneli

    Thanks for this! I hadn’t thought about the “mechanical” driving simulators with the simultaneous movies in years. We had those in our Los Angeles public school driving classes in the 1970’s. I remember how silly the movies seemed at the time. Every type of driving challenge would materialize in rapid succession: blind people stumbling into the road, kids chasing balls into the street, old people with walkers falling down in the road, car doors swinging open unexpectedly with people running out of the car, people in wheel chairs rolling down driveways, cyclists falling off their bikes right in front of you, cars careening through stop signs and red lights, etc. It wasn’t until I moved to Ann Arbor that I encountered a driving environment that actually matched the crazy stuff in those driving movies.

  • avatar
    Pebble

    The high school where I took drivers’ ed had a course behind the school building where kids in training would drive, told what to do by an instructor speaking via CB radio–each car had a radio in it, and you could hear the instructor…”Car 5, make a left turn at the intersection…Car 4, parallel park to your right” etc. The year after I got my drivers license and car, I returned to the school when they were doing driver training, hid on the other side of the building and fired up the CB in my car. As soon as I heard the instructor, I started overriding his commands with my radio. “Car 5, go really fast! Car 1, peel out!” Needless to say the instructor was surprised, and pissed to hear this strange voice screwing up his class.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    1979…
    I never took driver’s ed; it was an optional course in my high school, and I wasn’t interested in classroom work because I just wanted to get on the road.

    Instead, after holding my learner’s permit for about 2 weeks, I took my test and failed the first time.

    Here’s why: the officer intentionally tricked me. The test was administered on a 4-lane closed course, and at a red light he told me to turn left from the right lane, which I dutifully did. I was immediately failed. He kindly explained that my punk friends would suggest I do all sorts of illegal/unsafe things behind the wheel, and I had to know the difference.

    I passed the test on the second attempt, but actually did worse at parallel parking than the first time.

    I have used this trick while teaching my own kids to drive.

  • avatar
    JohnnyFirebird

    Passed the first time, even with botching the reverse parking portion of the test. I do know how to do it now – just use the danged side mirrors. Still not great at parallel parking. Oh well.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Yes — it took getting a backup camera for me to make it look I know what I’m doing!

      Hmmm..how to prevent that from being used in driver’s ed. or on a road test? Tape a piece of paper over the dash screen or over the part of the rearview mirror with the camera, I guess.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I’m pretty sure Ronnie and I had the same gym teacher! Or at least, from the same gym teacher training school. Useless old duffer. He passed everyone though, gym was pass/fail at my High School. We just spent that period screwing around or studying. The girls’s teacher was a hardass – they got WORKED in gym while we guys all goofed off. He retired my senior year and they renamed the gym after him!

    He also taught Driver’s Ed., but I did not take it through school, as it took an entire semester. I took the two week evening class at a commercial driving academy – Ace Driving School in Portland Maine. Cost $100 vs. free at school, but you got your permit in two weeks instead of 5 months. Any other Ace graduate here? The guy had a classic droning voice, followed up with “questions, comments, remarks” every time he said something. LOTS of gory movies. Vehicles were a Cavalier or an early Caravan.

    I ended up having my permit for 1.5 years, and I had actually been driving since I was 12. Passed the test on the first try. The examiner was really nice, just rambled on about baseball the whole time – a subject I know absolutely nothing about.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I am simply loving the comments ! .

    I learned how to drive on the farm in New Hampshire and had my own 1959 Ford F100 Pickup by 13 .

    I moved to Cali. when I was 14 and shortly thereafter got my first car , a 1960 VW # 117 DeLuxe sun roof Beetle , made it run and drove it sans license until I was legally allowed to get permit and take the license test , age 16 IIRC .

    Fun times ! .

    Anyone who thinks you can’t drive in So. Cal. sans license is wearing blinders ~ we have a large percentage of unlicensed drivers of all ages all the time , everywhere . Ask any Cop .

    I taught my Son to drive in my 1946 Chevy Pee-Cup Truck when he was 7 or 8 , by the time he was 12 he’d drive his mother and her new boyfriend home on their long road trips , never any problems or accidents .

    The amount of crashes and other folderol he did after getting his license staggers me .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    WhatDaFunk

    I never took driver’s ed (went to a private school that didn’t offer it), but I had a similar experience to your first time behind the wheel. I don’t remember exactly how old I was, probably around 7, we were on a family camping trip and I was playing “lunar rover” unattended in my mom’s VW van.

    The handle that made a great trigger for the laser guns was, unbeknownst to me, the parking brake. The car was parked on a hill and I soon found myself rolling backwards with no idea how to stop the car. Fortunately a tree stopped the car before I rolled into the creek bed that was at the bottom of the hill.

    Don’t feel too bad about not getting your license until you were 17, I didn’t get mine until I was 20!

  • avatar
    CoffeeLover

    Don’t feel badly, I drove the Driver’s Ed car into the ditch. I think I got a B because all my written work was A level. My mom insisted my dad teach me how to drive. Once we actually got out on the highway (sort of mandatory when you live on a state highway), I scared him so badly he refused to ever do it again. I finally got my driver’s license at 21 when I had to drive for my job and had enough money to pay a professional to teach me.

  • avatar
    Maverick74

    My driver’s ed teacher was also our shop teacher. He was one of the oldest people at the school (he taught my dad back in ’79, I took D.E. in ’04), and he was very good at what he did, ran a tight ship, and was respected by most of the students ( which is saying something for how much of a pain in the arse my class could be). While I didn’t fail driver’s ed, I did fail my practical driver’s test the first time. I took it in my mother’s Buick, which I had a hard time seeing out of, which caused me to utterly fail all the parking tests (parallel, corner backing, and the final park). The instructor also claimed I failed a left turn. The second time I took it, I used my step dad’s S-10 pickup, which had a sticky throttle at start up, which meant you had to rev the engine before putting it into gear. I completely forgot it did that, and promptly pulled away from the curb with the tires spinning, (thankfully it was a bit snowy so no one noticed it).

  • avatar
    LeeK

    Drivers Ed was a six month course at my Miami-area high school. We alternated one day of indoor instruction with one day of driving range practice. We had to endure the Ohio State Police gore films “Signal 40″ and “Highway of Death”. The kid next to me barfed 30 seconds into the first film, so we had to watch it with the stench of vomit in the room while the janitor mopped it up, film still running. My assigned car was also a Dodge Coronet. There was one VW Beetle for those adventurous enough to try a manual transmission. That poor, abused clutch!

    Florida’s written part of driving test at the time was really picky with questions on obscure facts designed to trip you up. After arriving at 7:00 AM at the DMV office, I waited for eight hours in line before I could even take it. I missed four of the twenty-five questions, the minimum allowable. It was an ordeal.

    I do regret how poorly executed Driver’s Ed is now. My kids took a two week course after school, with about six hours total classroom time. I see so few people using turn signals, get totally confused about how to negotiate a traffic circle, hog passing the passing lane, completely don’t understand how to merge onto a highway, and are generally ignorant of the most basic maintenance functions like how to check the oil or change a flat tire. I believe the pendulum has swung too far in the lenient direction from the six month immersion I experienced back in 1975;

  • avatar
    Roland

    Well, I was near top of my class academically and was given a hard time in PE. Back then, I nursed a grudge against my “lunkhead” PE instructor.

    But that PE teacher was an effective coach for the school’s competitive teams. The trouble is, the techniques you use to train and motivate competition-level athletes are not necessarily effective techniques for helping average or below-average PE students to develop physical fitness.

    As for driving, I had to wait until I was 19. My mother told me that I would be old enough to drive once I was old enough to pay for my own car and my own driver training. Looking back at the accident rate among my peers, I can’t say she was mistaken in her approach.

    Now 27 years on the road. Only one speeding ticket, two parking tickets–and not a single insurance claim, thanks be to God.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    I took driver’s ed in the late 70s. Our in-car instructor was a PE teacher, very laid back but with nerves of steel. On our first outing I almost over-steered us into a cliff, he hit the brakes at the last second (the car had an extra brake pedal on the passenger side) and just gave me a “Seriously?” look and sent me on my way.

    The driver’s ed stable was all Malaise iron, I still remember the AMC Matador. Kids these days don’t know how good they have it.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Well, your story certainly explains the statistic that folks who have taken drivers’ ed have the same accident ratings as those who haven’t. I was fortunate. At my public high school all of the gym teachers were pretty decent guys (jr. high was another story entirely). Our driver’s ed car was a Chevelle SS 396 (don’t ask me why) which seemed like a really dumb idea because you could rev the engine on that car and dump the clutch . . . and be in the next county before you knew what was going on.

    At great (and questionable) expense, I sent all 3 of my daughters to private school. There was a retired police officer who had a pretty good racket going on (this being DC). He sold a package deal that including not only driving instruction, but taking your kid down to the DMV for the driving test. Officer Wilson had friends in high places who made sure that there was no trickery during the driving test . . and that all of his students passed.

    Actually, only one of my daughters has turned out to be a bad driver. Regrettably, she lives in Los Angeles. She has totaled two cars, miraculously without getting a scratch on herself or anyone else (or anyone else’s car).

    As I explained to her when we were driving the Pasadena Freeway (the scene of her first crash), the maximum safe speed XX signs mean that just about anyone in any motor vehicle can negotiate that curve at that speed, but practically no one in anything short of a track car can negotiate the curve at 2x the speed, as she had tried to do.

  • avatar
    dcarver262

    Grew up in NJ living with Mom. In mid 70s, Dad moved to TN for new job with his new family. Great news! TN gives license at 16 vs NJ at 17. Spend my 16th summer in TN, Dad teaches me to drive and passing the road test a piece of cake. I return to NJ in Sept a licensed driver ahead of all my friends. However stepdad and mom not impressed and let me know I can’t drive their cars til I get NJ license. Eight months later, show up with TN license and receive NJ License. No test required.

    13 years later, I move to Australia for 2 year international assignment. Receive company car as part of package. Boss lets me know I need to get Australian drivers license. Get the book, read it (things are a bit different down under) and pass the written test with ease. Then I discover I need to pass a road test. My evaluator is not impressed with my NJ driving experience. He tells me (in broken English as he is immigrant from India) that I bring many bad habits from America and he fails me. I am presented with a learners permit and a large yellow letter L to place on my license plate and reminded I cannot drive after dark and always must be in the company of a licensed driver.

    Guess that was payback for it being so easy the first time through. Second time was a charm and I enjoyed driving all over Australia during my stay.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    Those simulators were ridiculous. I did poorly on those because I tended to push the accelerator pedal too far for the machine’s liking. I think the pedals on my family’s beaters tended to require more travel than those on newer vehicles. However, I aced the manual transmission component because I was constantly stalling by releasing the clutch pedal too quickly when shifting gears – even when going from second to third – and it turned out that it didn’t record any errors when the car was stalled.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States