Driving Classes

Parent Q&A

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  • Hi,

    I have a 17-year-old daughter who has her driver's permit and is ready for driver's training. She has high functioning autism and is fearful about learning to drive. I would appreciate any recommendations for a good driving school with a patient instructor. 



    We loved bubble of safety for our teen w ASD!

    also there’s this great link for some more ASD-specific driving training tips 


    my 18 yo’s ASD turned out to be a super-power for his driving skills, which has been an enormous confidence booster. Good luck to your teen. 

  • Driving training

    (1 reply)

    My sixteen year old is ready to do driver training. Just looking for good training, nothing fancy, in or near Berkeley. Any recommendations?

    I highly recommend Bubble of Safety Driving School owned by Jacqueline Regev. My 16 y/o son took lessons from her 1 year ago and really enjoyed the experience, passed drivers test on first try and seems to be a very good driver. I was very happy to support a local business. Would use her again without any reservations. Good luck to you and your driver to be!

  • In-person driving class for 18 year old

    (1 reply)

    I want my 18 yo to get their  license for many reason but the big one is just in case a job opportunity/posting  comes along and they ask for one. They may never use it for work or maybe once and a while, but the idea is that they can at least be considered for the position. I took drivers education in high school but today most schools don’t offer it.  Looking  for a school that will help with rules of the road and driving. No on-line class . Extremely patient with those who need extra hand holding. Suggestions and recommendations welcomed. 
    Mom seeking patient drivers ed instructor 

    You will probably get a lot of recommendations for Berkeley Driving School; both of my daughters really liked Donald, and Louie was also helpful. By the way, although as an 18-year old your kid isn't required to do the preliminary first step of an on-line course, the abbreviated version for adults can provide useful basic information to prepare them for the written test.

  • Driving instructor for 19yo

    (3 replies)

    Wondering if anyone has a recommendation for a driving instructor for my 19yo daughter. She didn't do driver's training and has just practiced some with us. She's hoping to gain confidence with her skills especially parking before applying for her license. Thanks!

    Yes!!!! Jacqueline Regev! https://www.bubbleofsafetydrivingschool.com/

    She is delightful and would be great.

    My 20-year-old son is in a similar position. I plan to schedule time with an instructor on DriversEd.com. I used this outfit for my daughter, although she was a minor when she got her license. She had two different instructors. Both were no-nonsense and focused on building skills required to pass the driving test on the first attempt. We got the smallest package and it was worth the cost.

    I highly recommend Jacqueline Regev, owner of https://www.bubbleofsafetydrivingschool.com/. She is fantastic with student drivers of all ages; I personally can speak to her wonderful personal skills with teens (and their parents).

  • My son got his learner's permit in March, and would like to start practicing his driving with a parent, but the learner's permit isn't valid until you have your first lesson with a professional instructor, and I'm worried that might not be an "essential service."  Does anyone know whether it is currently legal to take such a lesson in Contra Costa or Alameda Counties?  (Also, the DMV says you can take your driving test only after you have "held" your learner's permit for 6 months.  I hope that means 6 months from the date of issue, and not 6 months from the date of the first professional lesson!  Does anyone know?)  Thank you!

    My daughter just got her license in February. I just checked the website for the driving school we used, Coastline Academy, and they are closed. This makes sense, not safe to have two random people in a car right next to each other, even with masks. I believe that the 6 months is from the date the permit was issued. Also, when you make the behind the wheel appointment you have to call the DMV to do it and be prepared to be on hold for a long time. Once you get through you will find that the first available appointment for any office in the bay area will be at least 3 months, probably more now since they are not doing behind the wheel tests right now so there will be a lot of people wanting appointments when they open it up again. So call as soon as they start taking appointments again. It really is quite an ordeal to get a license these days, not at all what it was like when we did it. Good luck!

  • Driving Coach for Adult

    (1 reply)

    TL; DR: Hello, I'm looking for a driving coach that has experiences teaching adults and helping them pass the driving test within 1-2 months. 

    I've always lived in metropolitan areas and and have never needed to drive until recently. I would like to hire a professional driving coach who have reasonable rates and teach at a relatively fast pace so that I can pass driving test after a few lessons. Availability to give lessons during weekday nights and on weekends is a plus. I have a car or can use the coach's car. I live in NOBE. 

    Thank you for your inputs!

    Ann's Driving School teaches adults and also people with anxiety. I had 4 lessons (as an anxious 43 year old adult) and did great and passed my test. They are based in SF but will come to you.

  • Looking at the DMV website it appears that my son needs to complete driver's ed BEFORE receiving a provisional permit -- is this true? And if so, any recs? The places mentioned in previous posts have been for safety training once you already have a license.....

    Yes, he needs to pass Driver’s Ed and then pass the written test to get the permit.  My kids used driversed.com which worked fine for them.  It’s online and you can do it at your own pace.  I think they have both a browser based version and an app they can use on their phones.

    After he gets the permit, he’ll need to do 6 hours of driver’s training with a professional school, as well as 50 hours of driving with you (40 daytime and 10 nighttime).  We used Berkeley Driving School.  He needs to do the first two hour lesson with a trainer before he can start driving with you.  Our strategy was to do the second lesson midway through the 50 hours and the final lesson just before they were ready to take the behind-the-wheel test.  In that lesson, the trainer will do a mock test and let the student know more about what the test will be like.

    Driver's ed is where a new driver learns about the rules of the road before they get behind the wheel. Driver's training is where they get behind-the-wheel practice. And yes, teen drivers must complete driver's ed before they can pass a written test to get a learner's permit. The learner's permit is only valid after the first two-hour driver's training session with a licensed instructor. Once your teen has completed the driver's training requirements they can take the behind-the-wheel test to get their license. If they're under 18, that license will be provisional for the first year.

    Both my kids did online driver's ed. I don't remember which programs they signed up for, just that they were similarly priced and they did the job of preparing my kids for the written exam. Re the behind-the-wheel practice: I let my older daughter practice a few times in a parking lot and at the Alameda Naval Air Station before she had her permit. She did fine and was totally responsible, but few things are more nerve-wracking than a totally inexperienced driver. With my younger daughter, I was happy to have the licensed instructor give her the first lesson, and I honestly think that was easier for her as well. And for what it's worth, the terms of the provisional license saved a lot of arguments in my house: the kids weren't licensed drivers after 11pm, and they weren't licensed drivers with their friends in the car. If they rode in the car of a friend with a provisional license, they were putting that friend's license at risk.

    My son just got his license last week, so here's my summary of the process - the info on the DMV website is not always very clear:

    1. Schedule a DMV appointment for the permit test. They fill up about 2 months out, so do that first.
    2. Take a driver's ed class - most people do it online; we used driversed.com on a friend's recommendation, but there are lots of options. If you do it online, ALLOW TIME for them to SNAIL MAIL you a paper certificate of completion - we missed that part the first time around and had to reschedule our DMV appointment.
    3. Take the written permit test at the DMV. Bring plenty of documentation (originals, not copies) that shows who your teen is and where he lives - there's a list on the DMV website of what they'll accept (https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/pubs/brochures/fast_facts/ffdl0...), but more is better. Proving your address is sometimes hard for a teen - if your teen has a W2 from a summer job, that's a good one to include. Also bring Driver’s Education Completion form, Form DL 44 (you can fill it out in advance here: https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/forms/dl/dl44 - write down your confirmation number) and cash/check/debit card for the application fee. NOTE that your teen is not cleared to drive with the permit until he's completed Step 4.
    4. Do 2 hours of driving instruction with a professional instructor. At the end of that first lesson, she'll sign your permit and then your teen is allowed to drive with a parent or other licensed driver over age 25 in the car.
    5. Complete 50 hours of driving (at least 10 of it at night) with your teen. You don't have to document it, but you do have to swear that you did it when he applies for the license.
    6. Also, complete 4 more hours of professional instruction (usually this is 2 2-hour lessons). At the end of your last lesson, your instructor will give you a certificate of completion to take to the DMV.
    7. Sometime during this process, make your DMV driving test appointment. It has to be at least 6 months from the date the permit was issued, and I think the calendar opens 90 days in advance, so do the math and start checking for options as soon as you can. If you're extra cautious, make a second appointment at least 2 weeks after the original date in case your teen doesn't pass the first time - just remember to cancel it when he passes on the first try so someone else can have your slot.
    8. [Before you go to the DMV, check to see if there's anything further to submit for the online application: https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/forms/dl/dl44 - we had more to submit but maybe that was just us]
    9. Take your permit, your signed certificate from your instructor, your appointment confirmation number, your DL44 confirmation number and your working (lights, etc. have to all be in order), properly insured car to the DMV at least 15 minutes before your appointment time. Even with an appointment, be prepared to wait - it took 3 hours from start to finish for us because they don't have enough people available to give the 20-minute driving test.
    10. There's some more info about the process here: https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/pubs/brochures/fast_facts/ffdl07 and here:

    Good luck - hope that helps!

    The behind the wheel training is done after your teen gets a permit. Before they can go to DMV to take the permit test they have to complete a DMV approved online driver's education course. Google it, there are many, I got a Groupon for one for only $15. When they complete the online course they are sent a certificate of completion that they take to DMV. Read the DMV requirements carefully before you go in to take the permit test. You have to bring a lot of documentation including birth certificate, social security card, proof of residency (2 forms such as utility bill and property tax statement). After they pass the written test at DMV they have to complete 6 hours of behind the wheel driver's training. My daughter did Coastline Academy. They were reasonably priced, not cheap, but not something you want to skimp on. She had three different instructors, she liked Diana Ze the best. They have to wait 6 months from the time they get their permit before they can take the test to get their provisional license. In that time they have to complete 50 hours of driving with parents, 10 of which have to be at night. Best of luck!

    I think you will just have to google.  A couple of years ago when my kid was doing this, we were recommended to Berkeley Driving School for the in-car lessons.  At that time, they had a pointer to an on-line driver's ed course that, when completed, would give the kid the certificate of completion needed to get the permit.  It was supposedly 25 hours of training online, and although I'm not sure it took that long to do, it was quite a task and took my kid a few weeks to get through--he was also busy with other stuff.  Berkeley Driving School no longer has that link, not sure why, and CSAA doesn't seem to recommend any specific companies either.  So you may just have to google.  CSAA has some info here:  https://teendriving.aaa.com/CA/getting-ready/driver-education/  The part relevant to your question is under the heading "MInimum requirements in California", the paragraph where it talks about driver education.

    I can recommend Berkeley Driving School for the in-car lessons.  By the way, your child needs to complete 2 hours of in-car lessons with a professional driving instructor, after he or she gets the permit, before driving with a parent.

    I’m going to give you way more information than you requested because I really wish I had this before my kids and I learned the hard way!

    1. Get a DMV appointment now as they generally schedule months out. Save the appointment reference number, you’ll need this when you check in for the appointment. 
    2. Fill out the online DMV application for a driving license. Save the confirmation number you get at the end, you’ll need to reference it at the DMV. 
    3. Do an online drivers ed course (it’s the basic rules of the road). My kids did one called “My California Permit” that offers a $15 deal on Groupon. 
    4. Once your son passes the online course, he’ll be mailed a certificate of completion to bring to the DMV along with all the documentation necessary for his permit/license. I highly recommend getting him the RealID at this appointment. 
    5. He should take the practice tests on the DMV website before his appointment. 
    6. After he passes the DMV permit test, he needs one two-hour driving lesson with a driving school BEFORE he can start on his 50 hours of driving with you. He’ll need to take two more two-hour lessons prior to the road test. 
    7. Then he can schedule his road test and hopefully pass on the first try!

    Good luck!

  • Drivers Training for bad teen driver

    (5 replies)

    I am looking for additional training for my teen who has had 3 collisions in 3 months of licensed driving. Teen Driver has ADHD, but three collisions to date have been slow-speed collisions not related to speeding, distraction or recklessness (but damaging and expensive nonetheless) with no music, phone, or passengers in the car. Rather the accidents seem to stem from inability to perceive how much space the car occupies. and how close it is to other cars and stationary objects. Driving a smaller car is clearly part of a solution, but I wonder if anyone has found specialized driving instruction for a teen who is cautious, concentrating, and following rules, but is still just a bad driver. I don't think the basic drivers ed type instruction, which teen has already had, fits the bill.  I'm hoping that the BPN community can offer some hope of future driving! 

    The teenSmart program through Adept Driver is EXCELLENT. it’s on line, interactive and focuses on better decision making. There are activities you can do with your child as well. It’s helped my daughter notice things she wasn’t seeing before. It’s been a very worth while program for us and I believe she’s learned a lot more and is clearly applying it. We heard of it from our car insurance company. 

    Good luck. 

    I would think about getting vision testing done for depth perception. Especially if one eye works better than the other. A developmental optometrist or a vision therapist is the best way to go about this. 

    After our son had two fender-benders while driving in traffic, we enrolled him in this one-day Safe Teen Driver Training course at the raceway in Sonoma: https://simracewaydrivingschool.com/programs-experiences/safe-driver-tra.... The course includes having teens drive through obstacle courses, and stop suddenly while driving at high speeds. Our son not only loved it and gained a lot of understanding about how to safely handle a car and either avoid or prevent accidents, he kept urging his dad and me to take the course, too. The course is pricey--but not as pricey as the potential damage and harm a poor teen driver can do. 

    My daughter has ADD and I would not let her drive unless she was taking her medication. The accident rate for kids who drive and don’t take their medication is 100%. Obviously if you kid doesn’t take meds this is not an option. This many accidents in such a short amount of time is concerning. Maybe driving needs to wait for a bit. 

    The Alameda County Sheriff's office offers a defensive driving class to civilians.  Most dates are filled up now, but still register for each date and you will be put on a waiting list.  It is $300, but is the same defensive driving training Police Officers receive.  Here is a link with more information:


  • Can anyone recommend a good driving instructor for a conscientious but somewhat nervous new teen driver? I've looked at yelp reviews and they are all a little suspicious (like two separate "driving schools" with no websites and each having exactly 20 reviews, supposedly all 5-star). I saw some reviews here, but they are all old. Berkeley Driving School got some good reviews, but a) the online course is frankly awful. It's cheaper than many, and it did contain some instruction, but a lot of it was poorly presented or even useless. And a friend who contacted them never got a confirmation from the instructor they had scheduled and he didn't show up (and I now see that they've removed their online scheduling). I had thought we'd just go with them, but now I'm suspicious. They had good reviews too.

    I saw Ride On Driving School, All in the Family Driving School (those two may be related, I'm not sure), Ann's Driving school (which has more reviews, so maybe it's harder to fake, but it's also much pricier). I don't know how much those first two charge.

    Do instructors need some sort of certification that I need to check? I'm operating under the impression that I need 2 hrs of behind the wheel training before she's allowed to drive with us. Does the instructor hand you a certificate of completion?

    I'm looking for both instructor recommendations and advice for getting through this part of it. I'd like her to get some good instruction, not just to pass DMV muster, but to be a good driver. I was thinking I might want to schedule up to 6 hrs with an instructor. I have a girl, so if you are recommending a man, please tell me if you had a girl or boy for a student. I don't want to expose her to creepy men.

    I know many of you have already been down this road (haha). Please share your wisdom!

    (just an FYI, I learned from a friend in Alaska that teens get their learner permit at 14, and they need two years of practice before they get their licenses!)



    We used Berkeley Driving School for on-the-road driver training (We used a different web site for the online material.), mainly because it was convenient.  There was online sign up for lots of time slots, so it was easy to schedule.  We just used whoever was available. My son says the instructors were fine.  They showed up when they were supposed to.  The Berkeley Driving School instructors completed the paperwork both after the first 2-hour lesson, and when my son finished all the required lessons.  My son did learn to drive pretty well, though he spent many more hours driving with me than with the instructor.  I don't know if the instructors were men or women; we didn't care.

    We used driversed.com for the written instruction and it was sufficient for our kids to pass the written test and get their permits.  It is required that they do one lesson with a driving instructor before they can drive with their parents.  After the lesson, the instructor stamps and signs their learning permit, so there is no extra piece of paper to lose.  It is also required to do 6 hours of driving instruction (3 2-hour lessons), although you can certainly do more than that if desired.

    You, as the parents, though, will be doing the bulk of the instruction, as you are required to drive with her for 40 daytime hours and 10 nighttime hours before she can take the driving test.

    We used Berkeley Driving School for 5 beginning drivers and had zero problems.  I just looked and they still have online scheduling.  At the bottom of the picture, above the Facebook symbol, there is a button that says “Schedule a 2-Hour Driving Lesson”.  That will take you to the online scheduling site.  They have both male and female instructors and you can choose which you want.  We have boys and girls and they all used cross-gender instructors and were fine.  The men they drove with were not creepy and were competent instructors, but you don’t have to use them.  My most recent driver (just got her license in late December) liked Laurie “Dee Dee” Bennett the most of the people she had as instructors.  She provided helpful feedback and had a nice manner.  Just so you are aware, Dee Fong Putthongvilai is a man.

    We found it useful to have one lesson at the beginning, one lesson about half way through the 50 hours, and one lesson right before they were ready to take the test.  The instructors do a mock test with you (using the DMV guidelines) and let you know what you need to work on.

    Big fan of Bill's Defensive Driving in Pinole (http://billsdefensivedrivingschool.com/).  Bill himself was the instructor for my daughter in 2016.  Their policy is to conduct the required 6 hours of training WITH you (the parent) riding along, which taught me a ton of things & made me a better driver and a better coach for my daughter. (This also solves the creepiness question because you're right there -- Bill is totally not creepy!)

    Before I heard about Bill's, my older daughter went through the training with Safestway in Walnut Creek (http://safestwayds.net/) in 2014.  As with Bill's, the instructor comes to wherever the student is and picks them up.  Her instructor was Carlos and she really appreciated his patience and calmness.  

    Note: in both cases I remember being frustrated trying to reach them by email. The phone worked a lot better.

    You should obviously use Carlos, who is a gentle soul, calm and a wonderful teacher who charges almost half of any other teacher. My son, of course, passed with flying colors his first driving test. Carlos will also take your child to test, do all the paper work etc.

    Carlos' number is : 510 816 8034

  • Driving Lessons for college student

    (2 replies)

    My daughter is interested in learning to drive. She is looking for a driving school/teacher for a somewhat nervous student. She had a shaky experience including a minor accident when she started to learn to drive a few years ago, so she would appreciate a focused and patient teacher.

    Also, we could use advice on whether it is worth trying given that she goes to school in NYC, so would only be able to practice driving on vacations.

    Highly recommend Bill's Defensive Driving School. Bill is wonderful. Setting up the initial appointment took a long time for us -- phone tag -- but well worth it.  


    It's definitely worth it for her to learn how to drive.  I know several people who did not learn early and have never really figured it out.  The sooner she gets started, the better off she will be later in life!

  • Driving lessons for young adult

    (3 replies)

    Hi, we're seeking driving lessons for our 20 year old, who for a variety of reasons didn't learn to drive at 16. The website recommendations are all quite old. Can anyone recommend a good driving school or driving classes in Berkeley?  She is hoping to devote the last week in August to doing this, before returning to college. Thanks so much. 

    We used Berkeley Driving School, they were fine. Easy appointment webpage too. 

    My kids used " local driving school" and they were very good - reliable and punctual- also they practice all of the things they know the new driver will be tested on which is great

    Bill's Defensive Driving School. Bill is amazing. Calm, knowledgeable, full of information young drivers need to know.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Driving Lessons Drivers Ed & Online Classes

Related Pages

DMV web pages

Driving Lessons

Need inexpensive licensed instructor for daughter

May 2012

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.

Berkeley Driving School - Recent recommendation?

March 2012

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

Driving instructor for adults

Nov 2011

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

Driving school for teen daughter

July 2011

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

Teen driving safety programs

May 2011

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

Stick shift driving training for 17 y.o. with license

Jan 2011

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

Driver's Education Without A Car?

July 2011

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

Beginning drivers ed for 15.5 year old

Dec 2010

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

Driving teacher for 16 year old

Oct 2010

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....

Drivers Ed Class for Berkeley 15 yr old?

August 2010

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

Classes for 17-year-old daughter

May 2010

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

Behind the wheel driving school

August 2009

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`

Online driver's ed for 18+ yr/old

April 2009

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

Experience with local driving schools?

June 2008

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

Looking for driving teacher for our kids

Feb 2008

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

Driving instructor who is good with adults

April 2008

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

Driver's Ed Classes for 15-y-o - Online vs Live Teacher

November 2006

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?

Drivers education classes for 8th grader?

October 2006

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.

Good luck.

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

Driving instructor for nervous 40 year old woman

August 2006

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.

Good classes for adult learning to drive?

March 2006

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??

Thanks! Soon-to-be-Driver

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

How to find a drivers ed. class for teen

October 2005

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

15-year-old needs driver's ed.

March 2005

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

Lessons for fearful adult

July 2003

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.

At-home Drivers' Ed

Jan 2000

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

More Reviews of Driving Schools

Nov 2006

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)

Aug 2005

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.


March 2004

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

Sept. 2002

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.

Oct 2001

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)

July 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