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August 15th, 2005

Learning to Drive

In New Jersey the driving age is higher than anywhere else in the country, so I had to wait longer to get my license. However, as soon as I was old enough, I went to driving school in order to get my permit. Our high school also offered a driving class, but I would have had to wait an extra six months for my permit which, in teenage time, is equivalent to 45 years.

My first day out I was nervous as could be, especially when the instructor took me out onto route 95 and I was forced to do 65 along with all the other psycho drivers on the road. I was scared out of my gourd, but managed to survive the experience, thankfully.

One thing I remember about the driving school I used was that they were the only one in the area that didn’t have a huge taxi-like sign on the top of the car that said “STUDENT DRIVER.” Instead, there were just some stickers on the car itself. I believe they even used this as a marketing gimmick, letting students know that the school didn’t draw attention to the fact that the kids were student drivers by using an embarassing sign. They just figured it would be apparent when the car was going 25 in a 35 mph zone.

Another thing I remember: taking the driving instructor places so he could run his errands. Looking back, something about this seems wrong to me now.

Posted in Miscellaneous

FROM: Monica
DATE: Monday August 15, 2005 -- 12:20:03 pm
On my first day it wasn't 95, but the beltway (495). Ugh! why do they do that?

I vaguely remember something about taking him to a gas station (all the way out in Silver Spring), but mainly the only errand-like thing done was to drive to the next student's house to pick him/her off, then they'd drop me off at home. That seemed reasonable.

FROM: Joseph
DATE: Monday August 15, 2005 -- 12:32:30 pm
"that did have a huge taxi-like "

Do you mean didn't or did not? It sounds to me like the company you used had only the sticker markings.

Anyway, I took driver's ed through my high school, which got a deal from a local driving school. But the driver's ed teacher was lazy and often failed to appear for weekend driving instructions. If the weather was nice, he often opted to play golf instead of honoring his appointment to teach some kid how to drive.

So, ultimately, he'd show up on a bad weather day, and you'd do a marathon session in order to make up the necessary hours. My first experience behind the wheel: nearly eight hours in driving rain on the freeway. It was lovely.

We stopped for errands for him as well. I also remember sitting in the back seat scared for my life as other kids behind the wheel sailed right through red lights at busy intersections.

I still remember the car: the first car I ever drove--a 1982 Chevy Citation. They had to have some sort of special driver's ed version of that car with a tiny engine because it was so slow and after eight hours of driving, we used less than a 1/4 tank of gas!!!!

FROM: COD [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday August 15, 2005 -- 12:50:01 pm
I took drivers ed on a South Pacific island with no stoplights, one stop sign (where you had to look back and make sure a plane wasn't on final approach before proceeding, and a max speed limit of 35 mph.

When we moved to VA I traded my Republic of the Marshall Islands drivers licenses for a VA drivers license - only having to pass the written test in the process.

Generally speaking, I think the age for a non restricted drivers license should be 17 or higher.

FROM: Ryan [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday August 15, 2005 -- 1:52:07 pm
Do you mean didn't or did not? It sounds to me like the company you used had only the sticker markings.

Thanks, Joseph. Fixed now.

FROM: jk
DATE: Monday August 15, 2005 -- 9:58:02 pm
They took me out on route 30 which back then had 1950-ish merge lanes that were about 10 feet long. I was terrified! How can they expect a new driver to feel confident in that situation?

I still remember, every time I turn left on red which is legal here when turning from a one-way street onto the left lane of another one-way street, wait......horrible run-on sentence.....anywho, we were in the city and he wanted to show me when and where it is legal to make such a turn, but I noticed a sign that said "NO LEFT ON RED" and pointed it out. He assured me that they must have just put the sign up that very morning.

I turned left on red in MD on a regular basis when it was not yet legal there. Oops.

Overall, I enjoyed my Behind the Wheel experience. It even got me a discount on car insurance.

I don't recall specifics, but in Europe you have to go to a real driving school and spend hundreds and hundreds of Euros to get your license. My one aunt failed many times and was out thousands. The good thing is that they really teach you to drive in all conditions; the people who drive 110 mph on the Autobahn are far more skilled and disciplined than we are here. They don't make the careless and stupid errors that you see here on a daily basis. Passing on the right? Don't even think about it.

DATE: Monday August 15, 2005 -- 10:06:40 pm
Driver's ed car was a Dodge Aries.

On one occassion, we were pulled over by a cop on detail because the girl who was driving was going too fast and hitting all of the bumps in the road making construction asphalt fly all over the place.

FROM: Aanen
DATE: Tuesday August 16, 2005 -- 11:05:29 am
I remember driving on 66. It was out towards Front Royal where the traffic isn't as heavy.

The first time I drove to school alone, I stopped at a yellow light and got hit in the rear by a truck. Luckly there wasn't any damage, but man was I scared.

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