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What do you remember about taking driver’s education?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on June 27, 2007

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Photo of Sarah Seaman

“They had a brake on the passenger side, and anytime I did anything at all out of the ordinary, they would slam on the brakes. The first time they did it, I thought I was going to die.”

Photo of Bob Alexander

“I remember this guy in my class was driving down a country road, and a tractor pulling some kind of farm implement tore into the side of the car. It looked like it had been cut open with a can opener. It wasn’t really his fault though.”

Photo of Diane Ho

“I’d never driven before I took it. We went driving in downtown Wichita, and I ran two red lights and kept squealing the tires. It was really bad.”

Photo of Pat Sullivan

“I remember that it seemed pretty easy. I remember doing all the basic stuff. I think parallel parking was the hardest part, and driving on the highway for the first time was kind of scary.”


Kathy Theis-Getto 10 years, 11 months ago

That was the same harsh guy I had for an instructor - kept yelling at me for hitting the trash can in an alley when I was learning how to back up! Also - the similators where you were supposed to learn how to drive a stick. They don't have those anymore.

sgtwolverine 10 years, 11 months ago

Never took it. I decided to wait until I was 18 so I could avoid Michigan's graduated licensing system.

Bone777 10 years, 11 months ago

The instructor that used to make the girls cry, because he was so harsh...

rode a bike to class.

ohjayhawk 10 years, 11 months ago

I remember getting on the interstate for the first time (just before the speed limit increase from 55 to 65) and the instructor saying "Yeah, pretty soon you'll be able to go 65 on the interstate... 'bout time."

packrat 10 years, 11 months ago

A very pretty Stephanie. She of blue eyes and long brown hair.

trinity 10 years, 11 months ago

i already knew how to drive before driver's ed, so i was set! :) the instructor was a veteran, lol; he'd read his paper, drink coffee, and chew that infernal toothpick whilst we cruised pretty much wherever we wanted to go. to really mess with him, whenever he'd say turn right here we'd try to confuse the issue; right, correct? or left, right? stuff like that.

best part of it was i had driver's ed driving like from 11:30-12:30 that summer; just enough time to put in the driver's ed, go home&get ready to go to the pool-piloting an enormous land yacht, a '66 olds 98 that we'd snuck out of the yard. ;) and avoiding the other driver's ed cars all afternoon, THAT is a challenge in ottawa circa 1974!

purplesage 10 years, 11 months ago

Two things: winning the parallel parking "competition". We had to park the car between 6 and 18 inches from the curb. A couple put it right in there - like 2 or 3 inches. I was out there at 17.5 - but Price is Right kind of rules gave me the victory.

And then, there was the final exam. We drove from a ghost town to the top of a mountain on a road that would make a fighter pilot carsick.

Tom McCune 10 years, 11 months ago

I'm old enough that, at that time, power brakes were still fairly new and most cars didn't have them. (You young whippersnappers today don't even realize that ALL cars now have power brakes whether you want them or not.) I had been driving old cars and trucks at my grandparent's farm since I was 12. So, when we came to the first stop sign I confidently stomped on the brakes just like you had to do in the old 49 Ford. The kids riding in the back seat all wound up in the front. (No seat belts in the back seat either!)

Linda Endicott 10 years, 11 months ago

Never took driver's ed. Back then it was expensive, and we couldn't afford it!

My first car was an old Opal wagon with no power steering or power brakes. When I took my driving test, they didn't make me parallel park, either, Harley. Maybe that's why.

I sure move out of the way as quickly as possible now when I see those "student driver" signs on cars, though. I avoid them like the plague!

My sister almost got hit by a student driver in the Wal-Mart parking lot recently.

Hey! Maybe they should have a course somewhere where they have the kids practice first, before they actually put them in real traffic.

mom_of_three 10 years, 11 months ago

In my school, driver's ed classes were offered during the school year, but the actual driving was done during the summer. Wish it was that way now.
We had to learn to drive a stickshift, and an automatic. Boy, I hated that manual transmission. Almost got ran over by a semi when I popped the clutch at a stop sign and ended up in the middle of an intersection. But I passed, and was able to get my license at 16. Since I had driver's ed, I didn't have to drive with anyone at DMV.

John Spencer 10 years, 11 months ago

Two things come to mind, when I was driving on Lawrence streets for the first time, the instructor punched me in the arm when I didn't "cover the brake pedal" when approaching an intersection. Also there was a student that freaked out while driving around the cones in the parking lot of LHS and floored the car and started spinning around the parking lot for what seemed like 15 minutes. It was probably 15 seconds, but she finally jumped a curb and ran into the building where the wheels started smoking as they continued to spin like crazy..

wordsofwisdom 10 years, 11 months ago

Back in summer of 1987......Driving on "The Range" and smashing cones......especially when going in reverse!! and the highway drive.

acg 10 years, 11 months ago

I didn't take driver's ed thru school. We were out of the state when they offered it and my folks didn't make me want to have to wait, so they enrolled me in a driving school that was on Iowa behind food 4 less called Midwest Driving (?). Anyhoo, my "lessons" consisted of the being dropped off there every Saturday for a month. I would drive my instructor over to the Carol Lee doughnut shop and he would BS with old men for two hours and then I would drive him back. At the end of the month they gave me a certificate to take to the DMV. At the DMV, they gave me my license with no test or anything so basically I had no clue how to drive/park/reverse etc. and I had a license. First day of driving, I side swiped a mailbox, knocked the driver's side mirror off of my mom's car and curb checked about 20 times all over the city. Ahhh, good times!

pelliott 10 years, 11 months ago

I got an A in parallel parking and a fellow driver whose foot had to be pulled off the gas pedal by the instruction, who stayed calm.

Grundoon Luna 10 years, 11 months ago

My step-dad taught driving at a school in Chicago. They let him drive the car during the off hours and it was quite the trip to be in that car with the break pedal on the passenger side tooling around Chicagoland. When I was 12 I asked him if I could take the written test, which he thought was hilarious. Especially since I did better than a good portions of his students.

When we moved here I didn't have the benefit of having an "official" driving instructor to avoid all the testing at the DMV - being a former instructor didn't carry any weight with them - but I believe I am a better driver for having Stosh as a driving instructor. He's quite the dude.

It should be law that people learn how to drive with a manual transmission.

sunflower_sue 10 years, 11 months ago

That, due to budget cuts, driver's ed was no longer I never got to take it. I do remember that I took my driver's test in a 1976 Ford LTD. Good grief almighty, that thing was huge!

PrincessConsuelaBananaHammock 10 years, 11 months ago

I put the driver's ed car in a ditch on a gravel road while trying to learn how to do 3 point turns. Then, to make matters worse, being the princess I am I had NO idea how the whole process of getting the car out of the ditch was supposed to work. My instructor and a good friend of mine from my driving group get out and are going to push the car back up out of the ditch. After several min. of pushing the car without success, my friend happens to notice that I had the car in park! When the car was out of the ditch and the yelling stopped, I cried for what felt like ever and swore I would never drive again.
But later that week I passed my driving test with flying colors and have not been in a ditch since!

promitida 10 years, 11 months ago

I earned the nickname "Curby," its kind of self explanatory.

Sharon Roullins 10 years, 11 months ago

My instructor kept complaining about me driving to close to a bridge post everytime I drove under this bridge. It was two lanes but very narrow. He made me so upset one day he told me to pull over. I stopped next to this pile of trash and he asked me why did I do that? I told him I thought it would make him feel at home. That was really mean of me. As the years went by, I ran into him again and did some typing for him. He was studying to be a minister and I am sorry to say that he has passed on now. R.I.P. Mr. Johnson.

jonas 10 years, 11 months ago

I remember they told us to always come to a complete stop at stop signs.

The last time I ever did, too.

CindiCat 10 years, 11 months ago

Well, there WERE cars back in my day even though my kids think otherwise!!

Seriously, I took driver's ed DURING the school year and we drove on country roads. No driving in any big city. There was NO extra cost for this class.

We were glad that didn't have to pay for our 4 kids to take driver's ed when they were in high school. Whew!

Wished I would have learned to drive a "stick"....still don't know how to do that. I did learn how to change a tire. I passed the class and my test and that was all that mattered.

Crossfire 10 years, 11 months ago

I don't know which day was weirder, the day we got a six of Near Beer so we could practice sipping a brew while cruising or getting stopped for speeding. Our car had a small block, dual exhaust and would top end a 115 mph.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 10 years, 11 months ago

I remember not taking driver's ed. I guess that's why I've had one moving violation and one accident in a few decades of driving. Dang. I could have been perfect if I'd been taught proper like. As it turned our my dad just gave me three short gravel road lessons in a '64 Dodge 440 (Chrysler 50th Anniversary Edition) Station Wagon with push-button transmission. I loved hating that beast. I think I passed my driving test because I honked at a kid that jaywalked in front of me but treated a school crosswalk properly. I COULD NOT DRIVE! It scared me that they gave me a license. My fear of others with a similar lack of skills and a fender bender at 16 may have helped me to learn to drive defensively. I can't recommend this primitive driver education technique...or learning to swim by being dropped into the channel of a river! JEEZ, Dad.

Sigmund 10 years, 11 months ago

There is a difference between turbocharged and supercharged.

kujays4 10 years, 11 months ago

When I took drivers ed, I drove a Pacer and the instructor stuttered! "st-st-stop" was a hoot, but hey, I passed.

packrat 10 years, 11 months ago

I also remember that my simulator was jammed into reverse and perpetually at 80 mph. The instructor just told me to do my best and not worry about it.

I passed the test but the state required an eye exam before issuing the license. I flunked the eye test so bad that the person asked if I could even see the blackboard. I had no idea that I needed glasses. I thought everyone's vision was like mine.

acg 10 years, 11 months ago

Kujays that stutter was probably because of years of teaching kids how to drive. I think if that were my job I'd develop some sort of stutter or nevous tic, too. :)

Michael Throop 10 years, 11 months ago

I had private driving lessons, as our school didn't have the communal type. I remember that the football coach had to do the course, and his enthusiasm just jumped out at you:) also, I think the film was made c. 1951

Ceallach 10 years, 11 months ago

My dad yelling at me. An often overlooked form of teenage abuse -- a Teamster father teaching you to drive!

sgtwolverine 10 years, 11 months ago

By the way, to revisit yesterday's notice, my stop in Lawrence may have to take place Friday evening (06 July) rather than Sunday. I'm not sure yet; I just wanted to put that out there. I am hoping to confirm the Wichita trip tonight or tomorrow.

And since I've never been to Lawrence, I am definitely open to suggestions for good meeting places.

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