I learned to drive in South Florida - where there are no hills, no snow, almost no parallel parking, etc. Our biggest challenge (aside from all the other woefully unprepared drivers around us) is driving in the rain. Quite a few people don't bother with driver's ed.
It wasn't until I started binge watching Canada's Worst Driver that I realized how little I, and most of the drivers around me, actually know - or how common it is for people in other places to go to some sort of driving school.
One Reddit user asked:
So ... turns out driver's ed is pretty crucial - and the instructors are stressed out heros. Here's why.
The Story Of Lalicia silverstone oops GIF Giphy
Not an instructor. However I did have the opportunity to share the driving range with a several students after school. One girl, we will call her "L."
L had mistaken the shifter for the turning signal. A lot. She ruined the transmission on the driving range.
You know how high school students can be. Word spread - quickly. Unfortunately, poor L and her bad driving was the favorite subject for a semester.
She had to start the class over while most of us moved on.
L's driving was so bad that it became a topic with the teachers as well. She was having a hard time with the shifter and the turning signals again. She kept mistaking one for the other over and over.
She ruined another one of the cars. With the driver's ed instructor in the car. During her driving test!
We fast forward to the end of the year and we are about ready to go crazy for summer break. Word gets out that L had finally finished everything and got her license!
We honestly never thought the day would come. Her parents were so happy they bought her a brand new Volkswagen.
We are two days away from summer break and I am sitting in the cafeteria when I hear a mixture of laughter and "oh no!" I walk over to join the conversation and...
"L took her friends to lunch in her new blue Volkswagen.. guess what happened??? She pulled into the intersection and mixed up the turn signal and the shifter again!"
We saw the tow truck pulling up to take it to the shop.
I'm not a "drivers ed" teacher, per say, but I did teach my brother to drive. He immediately forgot he was in reverse and backed into a tree at 40 mph.
He sort of spooked and floored it, thinking he was hitting the brake. And then panicked and hit the clutch.
Fun hospital trip.
Ruining The Shrubbery
Was giving driving lessons to a girlfriend's mid-20s son who hadn't gotten a license yet. One rainy weekend morning I wanted to teach him skid control skills. We went to a wide empty street in an industrial area and I demonstrated a couple of times how to cut the wheel one way briefly then whip it the other way while applying the parking brake to cause a slide.
He wasn't getting the initial preloading the wheels by initially turning the opposite direction you intend to skid, thus wasn't setting up good slides to work with. I told him to cut the wheel a little more to the right initially before cutting left and starting the skid.
We got going about 40mph and reached the starting point. THIS time, he turned the wheel hard right and held it there. The car jumped the curb, miraculously threaded the needle between a hydrant and mature tree, then crossed the sidewalk and went bumping through the garden along a block-long set-back wall. He didn't brake.
Comically, groomed shrub after shrub disappeared beneath the hoodline, to pop up alive but more ragged for the wear behind us. He still didn't brake.
After a time I said, "OK... You can apply the brake any time, so we can stop running over the shrubs!"
That was the last driving lesson. Years later I'm pretty sure he still doesn't have a license.
Not The Wal-Mart Parking Lot
Not a drivers ed teacher, but my drivers ed teacher told me this story: He instructed a girl who had gotten a perfect score for her permit and a 100% on her drivers test.
Once she got on the roads, though, it was a totally different she would just stop whenever a stressful situation occurred.
She had gotten 40 out of her 50 required behind-the-wheel hours (I live in Illinois) in the Wal-Mart parking lot. When she went to take her road test, it was rainy and cold. She was not, at all, prepared.
Her car skidded into the lane of oncoming traffic, and instead of trying to steer back into her lane, she just screamed and covered her eyes. The instructor slammed on the brake, but the truck in the oncoming lane also had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting the car.
That truck skidded into the original lane causing a double collision. She didn't get her license.
My best driver's ed story is as the student. The instructor zoned out a little and his foot was pressing the clutch on his side.
I'm free wheeling down a hill. My instructions were to not brake and instead to demonstrate gear control down a hill. I was in gear with my foot off the clutch as instructed.
Then I noticed his foot is on his clutch and I don't actually have full control of the vehicle.
"Going a bit fast down this hill aren't we?" he asked.
"What are ya gonna do about it?"
"Well until you take your foot off your clutch pedal there's not much I can do!"
"Oh!" Foot comes off.
"I guess I passed that bit, hmm?"
The Best PartExcited Lets Go GIF by Honda Giphy
I actually was an instructor in my state for a private school.
There was one girl who was here from the Philippines and was terrifying.
She only had a vague understanding of American traffic laws and would often be looking at the wrong side of the road for signs and such.
Believe it or not she ended up acing her road test after terrifying me for the few days I was her instructor.The terrifying near-crash experiences were actually some of the best parts of the job in a way.
Being able to respond quickly and stop an accident without flipping your lid and scarring a pupil is crucial, but the adrenaline that comes from near misses keeps it interesting and gives you stories to tell.
Speeding Towards A Lumber Truck
My driving instructor told me a terrifying story about this. He was with a young guy and everything was going good until he got off the highway.
He got in the turn off lane, but didn't slow down. He didn't even try to slow down. He was speeding towards a large truck carrying lumber, the ones where the lumber hangs off the back a bit.
He yelled at the kid and he slammed on the brakes, stopping with lumber just inches from the windshield.
He had been to war, but he said that this was the scariest experience in his life.
The guy didn't get his license in the end.
We were taking turns driving in the drivers ed car, and one of the other students drove off a relatively short bridge (about 1.5 - 2 foot).
The car somehow managed to survive the fall with minimal damage, but the alignment was knocked so far off that the wheel was literally turned half way to keep the car going straight.
A Full Minute
My friend's sister rear ended a police car literal seconds after pulling out of the DMV. She wasn't even in the car for a full minute.
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