Archived Q&A and Reviews
We have already taught our daughter to drive but need to fulfill the state requirement of 6 hours driving time with a licensed instructor in order for her to receive the license. We are looking for the CHEAPEST option. Any suggestions?
My son had a wonderful experience learning to drive with Carlos, as did an older friend who needed refresher courses before a driving test for a US license. Both learners were on the anxious, overly cautious side. Carlos picked up my son at our house with a fully equipped instruction car, was patient and confidence inspiring, and my son passed the driving test on his first attempt. He charges $70 per two hour session and can provide the official certification of instructional hours needed by the DMV. His phone number is 510 816 8034. satisfied customer
We had a good experience with Berkeley Driving School.
Does anyone have any recent experience with Berkeley Driving School? The most recent recommendation is from 2009. I've got a teenager fresh from the DMV w/a permit who needs in-car lessons. I'd like to support a local business if they do a good job. Not sure I'm ready for this
We've used BDS in the past for our older son, and are currently using them for our younger son. I have only good things to say about them. Their online course seemed to be comprehensive and educational, and their behind-the-wheel instructors have been prompt, courteous, informative, and (as far as we can tell) effective. They will pick up at either your home or at BHS for lessons. The owner returns all phone calls they same day. No complaints here. dm
We were very happy w/Berkeley Driving School. Our instructor was Eric, who had really great rapport w/my teen (daughter). We did a refresher lesson about 6 months after licensing as well (where he assured me, mom, that all was fine w/the daughter's skills). Annette, the owner, is very responsive and helpful as well. ~Made it to the Year Mark
I have a European driving license but haven't driven a car for a very long time, probably 10 years by now. I bike a lot and feel safe in traffic, but the thought of driving a car is quite intimidating. Could someone recommend a calm and friendly driving instructor? Thanks in advance! want to drive again
I would call Ann's Driving School. They are based in SF but will come to the East Bay-I had similar fears about driving-didn't get my license until the age of 42, and I found the 2 instructors I worked with at Ann's to be very sensitive and very calm, as well as great instructors. I would definitely recommend them to anyone, even without driving fears, because it seems like the education is thorough. I am a very confident driver now, driving my child all over. Good driver
My son is using an older woman who is very patient through www.bayareadriving.com. I think they also do adult lessons. 510-430-8770. kathryn
I want my teenage daughter to get a good drivers education and driving lessons. Does anyone have a recommendation for a good driving school and/or instructor? Thank you! Anxious Mom
My daughter did a wonderful course through Bill's Wild Parrot Defensive Driving School. I think they have changed their name, as I Googled them. I think they are now Bill's Defensive Driving School. It was started by a former CHP officer. The instructor really put my daughter at ease, and I'll use them again when the time comes for my son to learn. You can follow this link: http://www.billsdefensivedrivingschool.com/services-about-us.html Sarah
Neli Gancheva, of Driving Without Borders, taught both of my kids to drive. Neli is a good teacher and reasonably priced. Both of my kids passed the driving test on the first try, and both are careful drivers. Neli's phone is 925-370-7852. anon
My neighbor is a retired CHP officer and now runs Bay Area Driving School: http://www.bayareadriving.com For Oakland or Berkeley their number is (510) 430-8770. Request Henry or Barbara Ramirez. My son took the driver's training course from Henry, but I think they offer driver's education as well.
Another option for an online driver's education course: http://oaklandtech.com/staff/blog/2009/02/03/online-driver-education-for-ot-students I don't think you need to be a student at Oakland Tech to take it. teen driver mom
I just finished teaching our daughter to drive. We used Bay Area Driving School in Hayward for the required 3 hour behind the wheel professional driving school DMV requirement. They were fine for about $300 for 3 one hour lessons with free pickup and drop off at home/school. Much more important were the 50 hours plus of time I devoted to teaching her what I have learned during 45 years of driving. I spent a few hours in Golden Gate Fields parking lot teaching her the basics before her first pro lesson and getting her permit. The 50 hours (10 at night) I gave her were critical to her learning to be a safe driver. No class could ever teach her all I did. No matter how you go about teaching your child focus on doing those 50 hours of training yourself and make sure lots of time is at high speed on freeways. Keep a written log each time they drive and insist they do at least the 50 hours minimum. I saw a huge improvement each hour we logged! She and I dealt with several drunk drivers, all kinds of weather, an engine failure at 65 mph on the freeway twice, getting towed by AAA, when to know to pull off when falling asleep, dealing with aggressive drivers, how to change a flat tire, check air and oil, a collision-her fault when a soda spilled in a turn and she took her eyes off the road for a second, where to park safely, how to be aware of surroundings walking to and from car, and much more. With the license they no longer have you with them to protect them from the world so there is a lot more at stake than just operating a car and driving-like personal safety in parking lots. Your time with your child NOW is the most precious gift you can give to assure they will stay alive on the road. No class or teacher can compare at any price IMO. Each time I give her the keys I am relieved to know she takes with her all I have learned in 45 years of life and I don't have to wait up until she returns safely. I gave it my very best. rest assured
We have two new drivers in our family and I'm looking for quality programs to supplement their behind-the-wheel driver's training time, which - combined with additional time with us - is the minimum necessary to qualify for a license. We heard that AAA had something of this sort on-line but I haven't been able to find it. We know that Bob Bondurante teaches a safety course in Sonoma, but don't know any of the particulars. I am really open to suggestion and - of course - just want my kids to be the best drivers they can be. New hands on the wheel
Hi, Here is a website that teaches teens how to drive under different weather conditions. I am going to sign up my 17 yr old for a class in the summer. His friends took it and loved it - they may do it again. http://alamedacountysheriff.org/_rtc2009/classes/evoc/evocDetail.php?CIVILIAN-EVOC-SAFETY-UPDATE-18 Linda
My son is a reliable driver, and has had the better part of a year's experience driving. He's 17 and got his license fairly recently but has had a lot of practice. He's inheriting my husband's manual transmission car, so I'm trying to teach him to drive a stick shift, but I think he'd benefit from a couple of professional lessons. I don't think Safestway does stick shift training any more - does anyone have an alternate recommendation? We live in Oakland. Happy he's driving now
Cities Driving School (based in downtown Oakland) is the only place we found that taught stick shift/ manual transmission driving. Both my teens did their driving training with them: reasonable rates, will come to your house, patient instructor (though heavily accented) who provides written notes for the teen to review after each lesson. citiesdrivingschool.net 510-472-7834 kids need to know stick
Drivers Ed & Online Classes
Hello, my son is 16 and I'd like to encourage him at least to get oriented regarding a driver's license--can this make any sense if we don't have a car? His friends are getting their licenses, and I think he'll be a better bike rider if he has an idea of what car drivers are doing. I'm concerned that we'd have to pay for everything again a couple of years down the road if we don't have a car before that. Has anyone proceeded with driver's ed training--and even with a couple of hours of paid behind-the-wheel training--when the family (that's me, his mother!) doesn't have a car? Thanks for your perspective and any referrals (we're looking at driversed.com for the moment). A Driver Without A Car
The main problem with doing driver's training without a car is that your son won't be able to practice between lessons. He won't get enough wheel time in the lessons to be confident and knowledgeable enough to pass his driving test. Also, state law requires a certain amount of time behind the wheel in order to qualify to take the driving test. I think it is like 50 hours or something similar.
Most driving instructors use their own cars, so that wouldn't be an issue. Also, when your son is 18, he can just apply and test for his license without driver's training, so no worries about having to pay again in 2 years.
Do you have friends or family who would be willing to take your son out driving? I agree it is good to have a license and driving experience, especially if he is out with friends who for whatever reason cannot drive home. I also think it is good for kids to learn to drive before they are adults out in the world on their own. It is healthy to have that time in the car with adults helping to coach you along for a while.
My son used driversed.com and liked it. We also liked allgooddrivers.com, but went with driversed.com because it had more interactive and varied interfaces. Mary
Hi - My daughter is reminding that her 15 1/2 birthday is coming soon and she would like to begin her driver's ed... I checked on line and found a lot of schools, and am wondering if folks have had experience and would recommend one or two for competency and cost. We are in Oakland - and, I now understand the driver's ed portion is ''all'' on line? Please correct me, if not. MANY THANKS... ''a parent in disbelief''
My son just started online driver's ed. We decided on DriversEd.com: https://driversed.com . The other one we checked out and liked is called AllGoodDrivers.com: http://www.allgooddrivers.com/default.aspx
We liked these the best because the interfaces were the most engaging. Plus you can start both before paying or do a tutorial to get a feel for it.
You can do classroom driver's ed, if you want. It was just too hard for us to cobble together 4 straight days of classroom time for our son. I know Safest Way driving school offers the driver's ed classroom courses, in addition to their behind-the-wheel instruction.
So, first your teen does her classroom or online driver's ed. Then she has to go to the DMV and take her written permit test. I believe she will need a certificate that shows she completed her driver's ed. Then she can start behind-wheel-instruction.
IMPORTANT: The DMV is scheduled waaaaaayy out on appts, so I would schedule her appt as soon as possible. I really wish I had known that when we started this process. Mary
We are looking for someone to teach our son to drive. We frankly don't want to be in the car with him because he gets mad at us if we try to tell him things, and he might drive recklessly with us. Who would be good to teach him, and what sort of certification or credentials should he or she have?
Dennis Stack, of the Jack Stack Driving School(his father and the founder), is a great guy. Calm, patient, honest, on time. He is currently teaching no.3 of our 4 kids and although they are all very different he finds a way to relate to them and motivate them to be responsible drivers. You can google and get his web site. They also have coupons for discount on the online driving course your kid needs to do first. Piedmont parent.
My son, who was really worried and thought he wouldn't be able to learn to drive, had an outstanding experience with Carlos, current phone number 510 816 8034, whom we found through earlier recs on BPN (source of all wisdom...). He used to be with Marina, but is now with Ron's Driving School. He was organized and clear--my son became a careful but confident driver and passed his driving test on the first attempt. Carlos was also very reasonably priced, and picked my son up at our house in the hills. saved my nerves....
My 15 yr. old wants to get a learner's permit and is looking for a drivers' ed class. Any suggestions? Does BHS offer anything? Berkeley City College? What do most folks do? Parent of BHS teen
My BHS student did the driver's ed. course with Bill's Wild Parrots Defensive Driving School. I wanted my daughter to learn defensive driving, as it is what my father taught me and it has served me well. They were terrific. Bill is a former police officer. Here is their web-site: http://www.billswildparrotsdrivingschool.com/ sarah
My daughter just completed her Driver's Ed. course online and found this particular course really helpful. She passed her written test first time! The website is: http://www.driveredtogo.com/default.aspx Good luck! N_K
Can you recommend a good Driver's Ed Program in Oakland or Berkeley for my 17 year old daughter? Is there a place that does classes instead of the on-line study? Where is a good place for the actual driving classes. Thanks.... new driver
We worked with Jack Stack Driving School for our children's driving education (the actual driving part) and were very happy with their service. Their phone number is (925) 939-0225. Berna
I am looking for a reliable 'behind the wheel' driving school training for my 16 yr old son, in Berkeley. Any recent experiences or referrals? OK to email me directly. Thanks, Deb
Our son went through Safestway Driving School in Walnut Creek. http://www.safestwaydrivingschool.com/
He took the DMV course on-line, then only took the actual behind-the-wheel training with Safestway.
He passed his driving test (to get his drivers license) with flying colors on the first try in El Cerrito. The DMV man who does the drive test said he can always recognize a kid who has gone to the driving school -- they are well trained and do well on their DMV driver's test.
We live in Berkeley and the driving instructor picks up the student at his home, so it is door-to-door service for the driving lessons. (3 driving lessons -- 2 hours each, as I recall.)
We only had to go to the school office in Walnut Creek once, and that was to register and pay for our son's driving lessons.
Highly recommend this school. Happy Mom with Teen Driver
My son had an excellent experience with ''Jack Stack Driving School'' in June. Dennis Stack ( Jack's son and current instructor) lives in Walnut Creek or Concord, but seems to do an awful lot of work on this side of the tunnel, and was happy to come to our Rockridge home for the lessons. He was personable, knowledgeable and we all felt safe. - happy customer
Last summer, we used Safestway Driving School based in Walnut Creek (925-933-3181). The instructor came to our house in Berkeley and provided the care used for practice. Our instructor was Stephen Manus. I highly recommend them. young driver's mom
I've used Berkeley Driving School for both my kids, my son,now 20 and my daughter,16 (getting her license tomorrow!). Both kids liked the instructors (both male and female). Annette Gagnon, the owner, is very nice and accommodating. For us it was great because they would pick the kids up at BHS and then get dropped off at home. They will also pick you up at your house, which we needed to do this summer. The cost was $115 for a 2 hour session (3 2 hour sessions are required by law). If you want more info,her number is 510-530-1938 or www.berkeleydrivingschool.com LBG`
I've resigned myself to an online Dr. Ed course for my 18+ yr/old daughter... There are so many choices online. All I have to go on at this point is price... Anyone have a particularly bad experience? An exceptionally good one? We're going to have to figure out the behind-the-wheel thing as well, but Berkeley Driving School is looking OK for that part of the process..... Thanks for your suggestions! Marci
My daughter used DriversEd.com and I think it was fairly interactive. The online course was a good fit because it allowed her to work at her own pace and go back and review whenever it was needed. Parent of a successful teen driver
http://www.driveredtogo.com/ I have absolutely nothing to compare it to BUT... 1. My daughter worked on this assiduously (and of course she is highly motivated to pass the permit test, THIS FRIDAY - eek!) 2. She keeps going back in and doing practice tests. 3. She has improved her scores as she practices more and more. 4. There is a spring special - only $20. A deal. She chose this based on price and the way it was laid out and it has worked for her. That's about all I can say. Oh yes - they sent the DMV form that says she passed their test right on time. Good luck! Peggy
I would stay away from TeenDrivingCourse.com. My daughter took the course, which was fine, but it has been a month since completion and she still hasn't received her certificate. They say that they have run out of the certificates and are waiting for DMV to send them more. Not a satisfied customer
I just found out from my insurance agent that my insurance company recommends a particular online driving course. If it is taken (and passed) before age 16, those skyrocketing auto insurance rates will get a hefty discount. This might also work for a permit test (I am not sure) but it might be worth calling your insurance agent to find out if your company offers something similar. There is no reason to post the particulars here, as different insurance companies may have different policies. Peggy
My daughter is ready to get her learner's permit. What experience do you have with different online or in-class training options? And what experience do you have with the various driving schools for the 6 hours of driving time? M
I can't remember the name of the online class that my daughter took, but it was pretty good according to her. It wasn't cheap though (none of it is), it was about $90.
After she got her permit, she went to Berkeley Driving school for the 3 required lessons. I thought it was great. The owner is very flexible and patient when we had to find workable dates or reschedule. I always asked for a woman teacher and there was no problem with that. Good luck! anon
Has anyone had a good recent experience with a local driving teacher for our kids. We just tried Berkeley Driving School and our experience was far from stellar! We are looking for a patient, friendly person who won't yell at our teen. He has 4 more hours to go! drj
Maybe you just need a new teacher, and not necessarily a whole new school (esp. if your child is more than halfway through the lessons). We used Berkeley Driving School last spring for our daughter. Her teacher was Laurie (who goes by Dee-Dee) and she liked her a lot. And my daughter passed her driver's test on the first try. Anon
My husband is not from the US and doesn't know how to drive, and thinks he'll never be able to learn. Does anyone know a driving instructor who is good with adults? mcpm
I have an excellent recommendation to share. My husband was a late-in-life driver, and he had several driving teachers. The best by far, and the one who helped him become a confident, good driver, was named Mene, and still works at the Bestway Driving School in Oakland. So if you want to get started, it looks like you can. Naomi
I have a 15 yr old son who is ready to take the class in order to get his driving permit. He wants to take it online. I am wondering if it is as good or better than taking it in a classroom with a teacher. Does anyone have experience with either? I saw some postings in the advice archives that thougt the online class was fine. Just wondered if they showed movies or did more extensive instruction in the class room. Thanks for any insight that you may have.
My 15 year old daughter just finished an online driver's ed course. She's so happy! I don't have experience with the live courses, but my feeling is that its depends on the kid and how much time she/he has and how best they learn. My daughter worked on it at all times of the night and day. It was quite thorough. There is a test at the end of every chapter and in order to pass they have to get 80% correct. They sent me an emailed update eveytime she took a test. There were 10 chapters. I think therer were some movies, though I didn't look over her shoulder all the time. She is a busy girl and it worked for her to be able to go to the computer when she felt like it and was in the mood rather than having to go sit in ANOTHER class. It takes kids all lengths of time depending on how into getting the permit they are. Why not ask your son which he prefers?
Any current recommendations for driver's education program? The archived ones are a bit sketchy and dated. Which programs are kids doing these days? Any info' on Driversity (which seems to have a lot of different branches)? Thanks in advance.
Dad of a soon-to-be driving teen
To ''Dad of a soon-to-be driving teen''
For the Driver's Education requirement, my two sons used the online program at www.oneclickdriversed.com (408-281-1284), which costs $69.95. For Driver's Education, we used DWB Driver's Training (925-945-1670), which was $60 for every two-hours, or $180 for the required six-hours.
The online Driver's Education, as I recall, consists of 19 lessons. At the end of each lesson, there is a test which must be passed before moving on to the next section. Our older daughter took the in-class program at Safestway, and it appeared to be both a much more boring and less effective approach. YMMV.
The DWB drivers training program was more flexible than Safestway. They did not book up as much in advance. The cost was less. I never felt that one was less safe than the other. My sons used DWB. My daughter used Safestway. I recommend DWB.
My daughter had a wonderful experience with her lessons with Safestway, who we see out on the road alot here in Lamorinda. She gained a lot of confidence and skill anne
Does anyone know of a driving instructor who has experience working with someone like me? I drove as a stupid, fearless teenager (without formal training) then moved abroad and never got a license. That was more than twenty years ago. I never used to mind being car free, but now I am a single mother and my life demands greater mobility. Is it too late for me? I cannot afford to pay much, but realize the right person may be worth it. Thanks, anon.
I was a nervous 40 year old woman who took lessons from Bay Area Driving School. I found the two different instructors I worked with professional and reassuring and they both taught very safe driving techniques. I can't say that it was cheap, but I felt the service was worth what I paid for it.
I am in my mid-twenties, but have never gotten a driver's liscense. I can study the manual myself to pass the written test, but I am nervous about actually practicing driving. None of me friends are stepping up to volunteer to teach me to drive, and I am not that sure I would want to learn that way anyhow. I looked on the website to see if there were any recent recommendations about driving school, but the most recent seemed to be 2003.
Has anyone had a recent experience with Berkeley Driving School? Or Bay Area Driving School in Hayward? Are there any other driving schools that are especially good, or maybe ones that I should avoid?
Also, any tips for first time driver or things you might want me to know (besides the basic stuff that I *hopefully* will learn in driving school and while reading the manual) as I will soon be on the streets driving next to you??
I look driving lessons with two different teachers at Bay Area Driving School and was satisfied with both. They teach you to drive very carefully, and give you pointers on passing the drivers test. One thing I didn't expect when I was getting started: you start driving right away at the beginning of the first lesson. Somehow I was picturing (memories of high school?) an orientation or slide show or something before I had to get in the driver's seat. Sometimes you will be giving the previous student a ride home, or you'll ride in the back while the student before you drives home. Most of the other students were much younger than me, which somehow made me feel better, like at least I had maturity going for me, if not experience. Good luck! anon
I have a 17 year old son who is interested in driving. I understand they are now required to have some drivers ed., but the class offered at Albany High has no behind the wheel training. There are so many listed in the phone book, and I have heard that some of it can be done online, anyone had recent experiences on line or with official schools, good or bad? I checked the archive, and other than one post, the rest were a few years old. I am hoping for some recent reviews. Jeanne
My daughter is currently in the midst of this process. First of all I had her investigate the requirements. The DMV has information online as well as several other sites. I figure if I am going to trust her to drive a car, she ought to be able to find out what is required to do that!
For your information, the process went like this:
Take an online drivers course (or the one at school) and pass it. The certificate from this course along with a birth certificate and proof of registration in a behind the wheel course is taken to the DMV where you fill out a form (of course) to apply for the permit. Your son takes a test - 46 questions, can only miss 8 to pass. (we picked up a driver's handbook for studying first) After he has the permit you call the behind the wheel course back and they come out for the first lesson. There are 3 2-hour lessons behind the wheel with lots of practice with you in between. They need 50 hours behind the wheel (including the course and 10 night time hours) to be able to go back to DMV for their driving test. If they pass the behind the wheel test they get a provisional permit (restrictions apply) and you pray a lot!
Re: the behind the wheel course - again, I had my daughter call some of the yellow page ads and ask the questions we had decided were important to ask. I then followed up on the ones she thought were good. We chose Driving without Borders. I don't know if they are out in your area - we are in Pleasant Hill - but my daughter's teacher, Nelli, is amazing. She is sensitive and encouraging and really knows her stuff as well as kids. We have been very happy.
On another note, if you have AAA car insurance, they have a software course the kids can take that will lower your insurance rate. Other insurance companies may have a similar program, it is worth checking out because the additional cost is high!
Hope this helps-Good Luck! sindy
It's time for my 15 year old son to take Driver's Ed, and it's not offered at his school. I was hoping to have him do it over his spring break. Can anyone recommend a good place to do this? Also, I know that you can take this course online, but I am skeptical that it would be as effective as taking the course in person (I still remember the effect seeing the movie ''Red Asphalt'' had on me 30 years ago!) Does anyone have any input on how the online courses are? Thanks a lot! KC
My daughter did an online driver's ed course because we had the hardest time scheduling the class. I helped her study (a fair amount)---I learned a lot myself doing it for the second time and some 30 years later as well! We collected as many exams as we could from friends with older kids, etc. to have some practice material. (The online course was basically the DMV booklet with quizzes at the end of each section.)
The classes these days can be REALLY bad. Neither instructors nor kids are very motivated. They are really geared toward passing the written test (not really enlightening anyone). My son's instructor basically read the DMV booklet to the kids. No one was happy. Plus, the number of classroom hours is pretty intense.
There was a show on NPR one day (while I was driving to Davis with my daughter!), the premise of which was that the MORE hours that you as a parent can spend in the car with your teenager DRIVING, the better.
With my older son we left the ''motivation'' for driving up to him, i.e. we would willingly go driving with him but he had to ask, find the time, etc. As a consequence, he didn't get his license until the day before he turned 18 and left for college. I would say he was a good enough driver to pass the DMV driving test but wasn't a very experienced driver at that point. With my younger daughter I realized that learning to drive is like teaching your children anything else (swimming, riding a bike, mathematics). In our society, it's an important skill to have and it's our job as parents to make sure that they are taught well. We required our daughter to spend a LOT of time (we logged the hours required by the DMV, day and night time) driving with us so that we could instruct her. (I should admit that ''we'' is the ''royal we''; my husband did most of the teaching.) She is a very good driver as a consequence.
good luck. Sally
I've had a driver's license since I was 17 and have a very good driving record. However I've driven all of 3 times since moving to California 14 years ago(I also drive very occasionally when visiting family on the East Coast). I've finally faced up to the fact that I don't drive because I am totally out of practice and scared to death of being in/causing an accident. Can anyone recommend a driving instructor for adults who know how to drive but are out of practice and need help getting used to driving again? I don't like being so dependent on public transportation/ friends and relatives driving me around. It's time for me to get over my fear and get on with life. Thanks.
I don't have any personal experience with him but my teenage daughter learned a lot from Henry Ramirez with the Bay Area Driving School. http://www.bayareadriving.com/ I know she learned a lot because she points out the things I do wrong (!) and tells me what she learned from her teacher. ;-)
Seriously, I really think that many of us adults could use a referesher--I'm just unwilling to pay the $95 for something I feel I can already do. In your case, you have the perfect excuse! I know he was able to articulate many of the techniques required in driving (how to merge comes to mind). I would suggest you contact Bay Area Driving School and ask specifically for Henry Ramirez (my older son did not learn as much from his teacher.) Sally
Our nanny, at 52, was overjoyed to have passed her driving test last month. She had failed the test at least twice, so we found an instructor for her, and after two $60 lessons and a lot of directed practicing, she passed easily. I highly recommend her instructor, Carlos Bercerra. He was competent, mild-mannered, experienced, gave her sensible advice for practicing, and was perfectly punctual. And his English is excellent. You can reach him through the Marina Driving School. Good luck.
My 15 year old daughter completed the written, at home course as prep for her learner's permit. It worked fine. Contact: Private Educational Network 461 Park Ave., Ste 2, San Jose; 95110; 408-280-1122; www.penschool.net
I have a leaflet from Apex Driving School in SF about studying driver ed at home. The leaflet is old, so I am not sure it is up-to-date, and we never used the method. The fax number is 415/566-2941. Or try the Private Education Network at 408/280-1122. Or email Pen AT GTE.net -- Sunsol
Re: teen driver's trainer?
My daughter and her friend have both learned from Carlos at Marina Driving School, 5515 Foothill Blvd, Oakland, CA 94605. The cost was much less than other schools, I believe it was $30/hr. Carlos is supportive and calm, and even encourages the kids to practice their Spanish with him. I can recommend him highly. His car is a Toyota. 510-816-8034 (phone # updated Aug 2009)
We hired SteveMoran of a CHP Driving School to teach our daughter to drive and I believe it was worth every extra penny.
The first lesson was along Grizzly Peak. The second lesson coursed through SF Chinatown and North Beach during a rainy rush hour at dusk and after dark. ''If you don't know where it's broke, you can't fix it,'' Steve said about his choice of route. The third lesson involved a trip across the Bay and over Mt. Tam, to Muir Woods; along very windy roads, as my daughter, according to Steve's analysis, was not looking out ahead far enough.
Steve had several well articulated routines and techniques to teach good driving habits, including a beeper to signal how often the student should be checking mirrors. He himself had plenty of extra mirrors with which to monitor what was going on, and he exhibited superb concentration on the matter at hand. He kept the lessons interesting and exciting to an adventuresome teen, and offered tips about safety, the appropriate uses of defensiveness and assertiveness behind the wheel, and what might disqualify the applicant on the licensing exam.
By the end of the course my daughter had a healthy respect for the power and potential dangers of the car. My husband or I went along for every lesson at our daughter's request. This made us better coaches though sometimes I found the experience nervewracking along the way. She passed her driving test and, except for the matter of a few parking tickets, is a good driver.
My 18-year-old finally got his permit, and I wanted to sign him up for driving lessons to save myself the trauma ;-). We had a very good experience with the Berkeley Driving School. I signed him up for four 1-hour lessons. It was very easy doing this over the phone; I spoke with the owner, who was very helpful and friendly. I was able to schedule the first lesson for just a few days later. The instructor was a nice young man who came to our house in a dual-brake training car, and took my son out driving. He taught him all the basics. After the lessons, I rode around in the car with my son driving and almost everything I told him, he said Yeah, the driving teacher told me about that. I really wish I had done this with my first teenage driver - it seems these lessons really sink in better when they are not coming from the parent. I highly recommend doing this. Their website is http://www.berkeleydrivingschool.com
This posting is regarding Driving Schools-Education & Training for Teens and the Berkeley Driving School. I read the last postings from other parents regarding the Berkeley Driving Schools and did see that they were from last year. Apparently, the BDS has improved its services. My experience with them went very smoothly and we obtained everything we needed for my teen to obtain his license. He told me that the Driver Education class on Bancroft was informative, he had to study hard because the tests were not multiple choice, the teacher was helpful, and he felt he learned alot from the class to be a safe driver. With the Driver Training appointments, on the first lesson, the instructor was a bit late, but the next two appt he was on time. My son said the instructor was patient, corrected his mistakes productively and clearly, and just had an overall good learning experience. The lady in the office handling the phones was proffesional, nice, and assisted me with all my many questions, and was communicative. I'd recommend the BDS as a efficient school to help teens to get their permit and license. F. N.
We gave our daughter a Highway Survival Course for her 16th birthday at from the driving school at Sears Point Raceway. It is an all day course on the raceway in special skid cars taught by professional race drivers on how to handle extreme highway conditions. She thought it was a weird present but she finally went during the summer, (after having her licence for 6 months) and loved it. It cost around $300. Even after all this-following the rules, taking the survival course and almost one year of driving-she had a small accident, rearending a woman leaving the parking lot in Longs. That is a nasty corner and it could happen to anyone, but this one accident came back with a $3000 estimate from the other driver and this was a 5 mile an hour accident. All in all I would do exactly the same thing again. She is a good driver and she still loves driving.
The Highway Survival Course is through the Russell Racing School at Sears Point Raceway. The phone number is 800-733-939-7600. They have a website for the school which lists all their courses including the Highway Survival Course that is http://www.russelldriving.com or they have a special clickthrough to just the Highway Survival Course at http://www.driversafer.com.
80% of the attendees are teens and 20% are adults. They focus on 3 areas. They start out with a ground school on vehicle dynamics. 1) Skid Control- in wet conditions. They have special skid cars which simulate these conditions. A professional driver rides with them. 2)Accident Avoidence-they have a lane change simulator. The student has to drive around cones. 3)Panic Stops- they teach them aggresive stops with and without anti-lock breaks.
At the end they do a timed driving exercise for fun.
It is 5 hours on one day. They run them 1 weekend a month. You can buy gift certificates for the course and take it any month. There are 12 people in each course. It costs $385.
I think it is great for both girls and boys. It instills a sense of control over the vehicle and conditions their reactions without encountering them for the first time on the road. Laura
I have taken several different one-day courses at Sears Point. I think that this is excellent training for all drivers, and especially for new ones who need some sense of what they and their vehicle can do in an emergency. Generally, they teach severe braking, skid control, and handling skills. Check the information under High School Safe Driver Program at http://www.searspoint.com/pages/racewayinfo/searscommunity.html. Linda
Postscript on the Highway Survival Course : I guess I spoke too soon. I was the one who recommended the Highway Survival Course that my 16yr old Junior daughter took. She just got into her 2nd accident in less than 2 months. So maybe it just makes them overconfident. It obviously doesn't guarantee protection. I'm getting her a bus pass and nix on the driving for the indefinite future. Laura (Nov 2001)
We had very good experience with Bay Area Driving School, whose offices are located in Hayward. We went down there to do the paper work, but they picked my son up for the actual driving lessons both from our home in Berkeley and from BHS. They were very well organized, pleasant, punctual, and he got good instruction. It was a little less than a year ago that he had these lessons. Joan
[After a bad experience with another driving school] I ended up calling the Bay Area Driving School instead, and wish that I had done so in the first place. The woman who handles the calls and schedules the appts ( Erica) was friendly and very professional. They were able to schedule a lesson for my daughter the following week ( though it was during school hours - after school hours would have been a longer wait). The teacher was a woman ( which I think made my daughter feel a little more at ease), her name was Yona, and she showed up for the appt. at our house right on time and gave my daughter a very thorough lesson. We were both very pleased and I think that anyone who is looking for a driving school for their teenager should give them a try. Betsey