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partyrock's avatar

How easy was it for you to learn how to drive and get your license?

Asked by partyrock (3863 points ) March 1st, 2012

How long did it take everyone here to learn how to drive? I’m barely starting driving lessons now and only have 5 hours in so far. I have the basics, but still very nervous. How long did it take you to learn how to drive? Did you go to a driving school ? Did you pass or fail the first time you took the driving test at the DMV ? Were you nervous the first times you drove? Is it something that just needs practice ?

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39 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

I did not, and I have not.

partyrock's avatar

@ragingloli – I’m 22 and barely learning how to drive and focus on finally getting my license.

Sometimes I wish I lived in London or New York so I wouldn’t have to drive, but I feel equally excited to learn, and a little nervous…... Don’t want to kill anyone or get into a wreck…

TexasDude's avatar

I didn’t get my learner’s permit until I was 17 because I was too afraid.

ddude1116's avatar

I’m seventeen, and haven’t taken my license test, but I’ve had my permit for a few months now. I was kind of nervous to start driving, and waited to get my permit partly because of that and partly because I just didn’t feel like, and I’m not all that experienced, but I’m a pretty good driver. Basically, I just drove around parking lots and parks to get used to the feel and dimension of the car, and once I had that down, I’ve been driving various places around where I live. It hasn’t been difficult so far, so long as I pay attention to the world around you and the car itself. I’ve also trained myself to expect everybody else to be completely inept, and therefore drive more cautiously as a result.

WestRiverrat's avatar

I got my license when I was 14. I had to take Driver’s education in school to get it. But when you live 15 miles from the school and there is no bus, you have to learn early.

digitalimpression's avatar

Living in a small town, my driver’s training instructor was also my science teacher. After driving a total of about 50 miles with the instructor beside me, I had plenty of confidence (having never driven previously). He gave me some pointers that I still remember to this day. When it came time to take the actual driving test I passed with flying colors and only a smidge of anxiety which I attribute entirely to being tested in general.

reijinni's avatar

I’m still trying to get the practice necessary to try to get a license.

xnightflowerx's avatar

Well I’m 22 and in the same boat.

I never prioritized it when I was in high school, and driver’s training cost a few hundred dollars and my parents were poor as fuck and couldn’t afford it. So I just didn’t bother with it. And then I started developing this awesome fear/anxiety about it, which I still have. One of my friends tried to push me into it, and had me drive around a parking lot a few different times. But I wasn’t very excited about it. And usually avoided doing it when he offered.

As I got a little older, everyone started nagging me about it, which I hate. They only nag though, they don’t say I think you should get your license, I’ll help you learn. Its just “Well if you had a license…” “You need to fucking learn how to drive already.” etc. Then I have some friends who are quite vocal that they don’t want me to drive because I’ll kill everyone. haha. And I feel like that at times.

I get really anxious in cars sometimes when I think about how I would feel if I was in the driver’s seat. I feel like I would start freaking out if I was driving. I know I need to get over it though. /:

Its one of my goals this year is to finally get my license, waiting for winter to go away. Been reading the little book of road rules I’ve had around forever so I can go take the written test to get my permit. I have no interest in owning a car though to be honest. I love biking, and am seriously interested in long distance biking and I’m planning out biking trips to take this summer. I commute everywhere on my bikes, rain or snow or shine. But I’m getting to the point that I should at least know how to drive, even if I don’t plan to do much driving.

I always find it funny when I tell people all this and then I tell them I travel around the country for a living. lol. But you’d be surprised how willing people are to drive hundreds of miles with you if you just pay for them to get away from their lives for a few days.

CaptainHarley's avatar

The single most important thing to remember when driving is that, it’s best to anticipate accidents because once you’re in one, you can’t do much except ride it out, and they happen very, very fast!

I had to retake my driving exam once because I didn’t study the pamphlet, and I had to retake my driving skills test because I flew like a bat out of hell at one point in the test! Heh!

keobooks's avatar

I got it at 16, but I had been driving tractors on my grandparents farm since I was 12. I had some trouble with parallel parking, but no big deal.

I drove only manual transmission (stick shift) until I was 35. It took me years to get used to an automatic. I still sometimes mess up and slam my foot on the break because I think it’s the clutch and I still grab for a gear shift that isn’t there now and then.

partyrock's avatar

@xnightflowerx – We are exactly the same….

partyrock's avatar

@xnightflowerx – I’ve never had much interest in driving either, but the older I get, and living in the city (Los Angeles), I know I need to get it done… So here we are now… and don’t worry, you’ll do good… you can’t be as nervous as I am :)

filmfann's avatar

I didn’t get my license until I was 18, because my Mom knew that as soon as I got my license, my younger brother would want his. She kept me from getting my license until my brother told her he was going to forge her name on the permit application. She let him get his license, and then let me get mine (how unfair is that?).
Learning was quite easy, and while I have had 4 accidents, I wasn’t at fault for all but one, which was very minor.
I have also been driving in very busy cities (San Francisco and Los Angeles) as part of my job, and haven’t had an accident while on the job, excepting one that was covered up by the boss of another employee who rear ended me.
The most important thing I can tell you about safe driving?
Don’t speed, and keep your head out of your ass.

Jeruba's avatar

@partyrock, here’s my answer to a very similar question of yours from just a month ago.

dabbler's avatar

I grew up in LA, in cars all the time, to get anywhere, everywhere.
I’m also gadget and machine oriented.
By the time I got a ‘learner’s permit’ at 15–½ I already knew how to drive, by osmosis.
It took very little time to ‘get up to speed’ so to speak. Drove myself and a few fellow students to school and back home every day the last two years of high school.

@CaptainHarley‘s advice is good, be a defensive driver. Always know where the other cars around you are and be aware of where there is an ‘out’ and especially aware if there is none.
If there is no way to avoid an accident, aim for the softest hit (e.g. hedgerow better than stalled cars, impact attenuators better than bridge abutment). Develop an awareness of what that option is. The better your situational awareness is, and the more you know what your emergency options are at all times, the less likely you are to need them.

wundayatta's avatar

On a scale of one to ten: nine.

I had driver’s ed at high school. I learned to drive in the snow at night. I learned to drive with salt on the windshield while driving downhill into the sun.

I had no problem. Got my license on my first attempt.

Now age has not been kind to me. For the first time in my life, I fell asleep at the wheel a few weeks ago. Fortunately nothing bad happened. I knew I was sleepy and I had asked my wife to drive, but I was pushing on a few more exits, and I shouldn’t have. Its not a big deal falling asleep while driving a computer. Driving a car is a whole nother beast!

partyrock's avatar

How long did it take you guys to learn how to drive, for those who have never done it before, and are going to a driving school/having a friend teach you ??

King_Pariah's avatar

For me, training took about 6 months of on and off training and then 3 months after I turned 18, I went in and got my license pretty much no problem. The hardest part was the training, parents make horrible instructors.

jerv's avatar

I never took any sort of driver’s ed. I always saw it as teaching you some idealistic, textbook way of driving that doesn’t actually teach you how to handle the really real roads. But between the video games I played as a child, my innate grasp of physics, and a little common sense, I had the practical basics of controlling a vehicle down by the time I was 12, though it took a little longer for me to get the hang of not dumping the clutch. My mother taught me how to insult people who cut me off when I was 3 (the first one I remember was “Needle-dicked bug-fucker”), so I even had that down. On the written side, I always test well, especially on “bubble tests”.

However, I had no need for a drivers license until I was in my mid-20s; I was in the Navy,and the lack of parking (especially long-term parking) for E-4 and below would have made a car a liability, so I didn’t bother trying to get one until I was 26. I went out to a snowy/icy field with my father-in-law just to make sure I still had it. Braking on ice without skidding? Check. Turning in snow without spinning or plowing? Check.

When I went for my test, I got 20/20 on the written, and the only points I lost on the road test were because I didn’t adjust the mirrors when I first got into the car. (Why should I? I drove there (no learners permit required in NH), so the mirrors were already in position!) The hardest part for me was the eye test because I am legally blind in one eye.

Like driving itself, the easiest way to mess up on the test is to be nervous. Nerves cause you to do silly things. Nerves make you forget the right thing to do. Just relax, do what you learned, and you should be fine.

linguaphile's avatar

I might be scary here, but the ending’s good…

I learned to drive with my mother screaming blood murder at me every time I touched the gas pedal. She had a stick shift, so it was a nightmare learning how to work the clutch. I had no problem with the mechanics of driving itself (a few wide right turns, then I was okay) but the clutch!!! And her screaming!

I failed my first driving test when I went through a stop sign that was on a street that looked like it merged into another street. The tester tricked me—he knew that street looked like a merging street but had a stop sign on it. He only took overconfident kids on that route. Ptth.

My first time out alone- I was dumb enough to venture out into rush hour, then a monsoon hit. I stopped too fast on a puddle and spun across the intersection. Everyone politely stopped to watch me creep my way back into my lane with with my head as low as it could go out of embarrassment.

I finally mastered the clutch when I was 18. I had to drive a sick friend home in Salt Lake City. I had no choice- it was either learn or fly backwards off the mountain.

I was in college in DC, so basically, learned all my good and bad habits from DC drivers. LOL!

But from all those things, I became an expert on stick shift and can change my own tires, and oil, and can drive nearly anything now.

I survived! No matter what happens, you too will figure it out and be okay!

augustlan's avatar

I didn’t learn until I had to, when I was 19. My mom had tried to teach me, but she was such a nervous wreck that I couldn’t handle it. Then my boyfriend at the time tried to teach me, but he constantly yelled at me, and that was worse than my mom! Finally, my bio-father (whom I barely knew at that point) took me out, in the snow, in his brand new huge honkin’ pickup truck, and very calmly taught me how to drive. He had such confidence in my ability to do it, that he used one of his work ladders and his own body as ‘markers’ when teaching me how to parallel park. One afternoon was all it took. Passed the test with flying colors.

zenvelo's avatar

When I was a teenager, California had mandatory driver’s ed in high school. I took it when I was 15 yrs 4 months, had 3 hours of actual driving and 5 hours in the simulator, plus class room. I got my learner’s permit when I was 15 years 7 months. I drove quote a bit while learning.

Two big lessons: My father had me drive from Burlingame up through San Francisco, across the Bay Bridge, through the Caldecott tunnel to Danville, and then drive back. It was about 100 miles altogether, almost all freeways.

The other was the day after my 16th birthday, I drove into the heart of San Francisco and home during rush hour. That gave me enough confidence to get my license the next day.

Driving never seemed that hard to me

Cruiser's avatar

I had been driving go-karts since I was 9 so the driving part was a cinch…the hard part for many is the written test. You should pick it up fairly quick. You should have most the skills for actual driving after your 5 hours. Just drive as much as you can…good luck

Bent's avatar

I got my license at 18, I can’t remember how many lessons I had but it took about six months altogether. Failed the test first time, passed the second.

wundayatta's avatar

One afternoon? Go-carts?

I’m sorry. There’s a hell of a lot more to safe driving than can be learned like that. You are not going to learn how to anticipate when a child will come running out from between parked cars on a go-cart or in a snowy parking lot. Neither will you learn how to tell which car is going to ignore the stop sign at the four-way stop. And then there’s the dreaded merging lanes at 70 mph in rush hour traffic. Until you know these things, you are not a safe driver. These things have to be learned from a good teacher over time or from caution and experience. It is preferable not to have to figure them out yourself.

And that’s just the beginning of a very long list of things that can get you into deep trouble while driving.

Cruiser's avatar

@wundayatta Discount my Go-Kart experience all you want but having 6 years of gas/brake/steer and avoid skills of driving in crowded go-kart tracks helped me not drive straight off the road the first time behind the wheel like the girl in my car did in drivers ed.

My son who is 15 who also has years of Go-Kart track experience told me that he credited his 6 years driving a fork lift at my work for helping him to drive a car especially when having had to operate the fork lift levers while steering and stacking pallets at the same time while only 10 years old. IMHO driving anything at all teaches you steering and stopping…2 of the most important aspects of driving.

ragingloli's avatar

Michael Schumacher started with Go Karts. He is a better driver than all of you combined.

Cruiser's avatar

@ragingloli Says you! lol!

wundayatta's avatar

@Cruiser I grant you that you learn certain skills, and I’m not discounting those skills. Just pointing out that there are many contextual skills that you won’t learn in the context of the go-kart, and the contextual skills are far more important in driving safely.

I think that bicycle riding is excellent training for learning the contextual rules of the road as we experience them mostly. We learn to anticipate all kinds of problems at much slower speeds, so it isn’t that big a change when we start driving at car speeds.

Leanne1986's avatar

If I remember rightly, I started driving lessons in June and had my licence by January. I found that driving came quite naturally to me so I learnt quickly. I had at least an hour lesson from a tutor each week but my mother would take me out and let me drive pretty much every evening which is why I think I learnt so quickly. I couldn’t imagine not being able to drive now.

One of my friends faied her driving tests at least 5 times before she passed!

ragingloli's avatar

@Cruiser
Says his 7 F1 World Championship wins.

zenvelo's avatar

Schumacher doesn’t deal with stop lights, people running stop signs, or oncoming traffic. I’d put a NYC cabbie up against him in a race from Wall Street and Broadway up to 57th and 5th any day.

downtide's avatar

I’ve never been able to meet the minimum eyesight requirements so I’ve never learned.

Mariah's avatar

I’m 19 and it has been an issue for me. I still don’t have my license. I’m a very nervous driver. I took my first road test at age 18 and failed miserably and have not tried again since because the experience was so unpleasant.

Cruiser's avatar

@wundayatta Well my 4 accidents in the first 4 years of driving will support your point but I was answering the OP’s question about how hard/easy it was/is to learn to drive not avoid accidents once you do.

@ragingloli My 1st Place win at the End of Summer Championship Race at the Cecil Go-Kart track says SO WHAT! XD

linguaphile's avatar

My mom’s best advice to me related to driving was: it doesn’t matter how well you drive if you can’t drive defensively. I’m still on Earth because of defensive driving.

augustlan's avatar

@wundayatta Yeah, I was just talking about the physical aspects of driving, not the mental. That came with lots of practice. How we did it for my daughter was to get her the learner’s permit, and then practice a ton in safe areas (empty parking lots and such) before moving on to small roads, all the way up to highways, giving lots of mental advice along the way. When she finally took formal driver’s ed classes, she was leaps and bounds ahead of the kids who started their training there.

KidCurtis's avatar

Seems like it was pretty easy looking back, I was extra careful when I started out, I lived in the countryside at the time so I could drive around without much worry of running into the police so I got a pretty good feel for the car. I passed my test pretty easily the first time I took it, I bombed parallel parking but did well on everything else.

gasman's avatar

When you’re 15 you think learning to drive means acquiring the manual skill to operate the vehicle. Later you realize that’s the easy part – the hard part is avoiding collisions. A good driver is one who minimizes risk of collision. I’ve learned to prioritize goals of safety, legality, courtesy and gas mileage, in that order like Asimov’s 3 laws of robotics, lol.

I flunked the Illinois test the first time, which was an artificial course laid out on pavement. I started out inside a bunch of parallel lines/lanes & then the guy said turn left. As I did so the lines also turned but I still cut across some yellow lines. Next…

My older brother flunked his the first time too, in an actual road test, when the guy told him to pull into an alley (which he did) and then back out (which he did). The former is okay, the latter is illegal. Next…

Your tax dollars at work!

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