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Garga

How long does it take to learn to drive?

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My oldest son has haaaaated learning to drive. 

But in the past two weeks he’s turned a corner and is now moderately motivated.  He’s not chomping at the bit, but he’s finally starting to feel confident about learning to drive.  He’s had a permit for 9 months and until about 2 weeks ago, he was still in parking lots and empty streets because he just wasn’t ready for more and he hated every second of driving.

And then, suddenly, he was ready for streets with cars.  And ready for driving around town.  And then last week for the first time he initiated a conversation about driving and said, “Whenever you have to go on an errand, I think I should be the one to drive.”  Until last week, whenever it was time for a driving lesson he would grumble about it and hated every second of it, and there he was, offering to drive!

I’m very VERY proud of him for turning this corner.

I was told by the DMV when we got the permit to make the appointment for the driving test that same day because it takes months to get an appointment.  I’d like to go ahead and schedule the driving test since it sounds like you have to schedule them months ahead of time...but for when?  With a moderately motivated new driver, how long does it take to be ready to take a driver’s test?  It probably depends on how many times you can go out each week and how long each session is, so if you remember, can you tell me your story of when your new driver was ready for the driving test?

Edited by Garga

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I'd want him to have several months of steady practice (driving at least several times a week) before letting him get his license. Here in NC a log is required showing that drivers with permits have had at least 60 hours of driving practice, but no more than 10 hours per week can be counted. At least 10 of the 60 hours must be night driving. Of course the logs are easy to fake, but I'm just posting that to let you know one state's requirement for moving from permit to license. In addition to completing the log and the required driving hours, 16 and 17 year olds are required to have a permit for at least one year before they can take the driver's test.

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It took oldest ds about 2 years.  Well, not really.  One of those years was at college without a car, so about 15 months total.  He still doesn't like to drive much but he's slowly getting the hang of it.  We get entirely stupid summer drivers, though, and he's not willing to brave them more than he has to.

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It depends. Our state has a minimum of 30 hours (maybe 40? I can't remember) of behind the wheel experience - at least 10 hours must be after dark. 

I didn't let my kids take the test *until* I thought they were ready. 

Our state now has authorized non-state businesses to do the driving test. You can call in the morning and get an appointment in the afternoon. 

One child took about a year before I felt she was ready, the other took slightly longer. 

This is what I posted in one of my local groups about teaching driving: I've encountered many teen drivers who did NOT understand about hydroplaning and had traffic accidents that could have been avoided because of this. 

 

Driving Instruction - quite frankly, I don't think the state has enough categories/conditions for driving required.
I think they should add the following situations:

1. Driving off the road. Yes, it happens. So, I take my learners on a country road and have them drive at a reasonable speed and steer just a little bit off the road so they understand what it feels like and how to safely get back on the road. I pick a spot where the drop off isn't that bad.

2. Driving in the rain. Beginners need to feel how a road can be slick immediately after the roadway gets wet after a long dry spell. They need to see how the vehicle handles when there is so much rain that the water builds up on the road and the car hydroplanes. They need to drive when the rain is so hard and fast you really can't see where you are going (time to pull over and stop someplace safe).

3. They need to drive through construction zones. Right now the intersection of Street 1 and Street 2 has been great - they have changed that configuration three times now - so the teen has to figure out *what* they are supposed to do. Luckily the construction folks have made it difficult to figure that out, so your teen has to use even more brain power. Random Street headed east onto Second Random Street - again a nice place to take them as the lane markers are currently missed, and you have two lanes plus a turn lane and you have to figure out where your vehicle is supposed to be.

4. Following and being the leader. I don't think people do that much anymore since everyone has a smart phone to give them directions, but the skill may come in handy. Learning to follow someone else to an unknown destination is an exercise! Learning how to lead (keeping a watch on the follower and then stopping and waiting for them if they get caught at a light) is also useful. This would only be for licensed drivers though.

5. Driving practice in high winds - well, because it is Texas and we often have high winds. Learn how to handle your high profile vehicle!

6. Passing on a two lane highway. Seriously, I think this one may be a lost art. People do not seem to know how to do this.

7. How to handle emergency situations. Come on now - how many people did you see ignore stop lights that were out during the last power outage? Make sure your teen drivers understand this!

8. Four-way stops. In our regular travels, the only busy 4-way stops we encounter are the ones downtown. And they aren't busy. But from the behavior of folks who actually stopped at the non-functioning stop lights recently, they have no idea of how they work either. So, go look for some and practice!

9. One way streets. Do we even have any in our town? We went to NearbyTown to use theirs.

10. Traffic circles - well, only if you are headed somewhere there is one. 

11. Various configurations of interstate exits/on-ramps. Our Town has a variety of these, so it is easy to show them and have them practice on many. Love the fact we even have a left exit on our Interstate!

What other driving situations do you make sure your beginning drivers face?


To me getting a license should only be when you, the parent, thinks the child is responsible and mature enough to handle a 3000 lb vehicle capable of inflicting grievous and bodily harm on others as well as themselves.


Additionally, we made both our teen drivers take Tire Rack's Street Survival course. Oldest said it really helped her when she was in a difficult situation - without that experience, she believed she would have been involved in a serious accident. 

 

Edited by Bambam
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We're on our third teen driver. Our family's goal is to have the teen drive every single day for 6 months in lots of different environments.  

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I don’t know about the state you are in, but here in TX we can have the driving test done through private companies which elimate the need to go through the overtaxed DMV and their crazy waits. Might be worth checking. I had no idea until we started getting mailers about it after dd finished the online portion of drivers ed. I thought it was a scam, but nope. Dh asked some people at work with teens and that’s how most of them did it as well. 

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1 hour ago, Bambam said:

It depends. Our state has a minimum of 30 hours (maybe 40? I can't remember) of behind the wheel experience - at least 10 hours must be after dark. 

I didn't let my kids take the test *until* I thought they were ready. 

Our state now has authorized non-state businesses to do the driving test. You can call in the morning and get an appointment in the afternoon. 

One child took about a year before I felt she was ready, the other took slightly longer. 

This is what I posted in one of my local groups about teaching driving: I've encountered many teen drivers who did NOT understand about hydroplaning and had traffic accidents that could have been avoided because of this. 

 

Driving Instruction - quite frankly, I don't think the state has enough categories/conditions for driving required.
I think they should add the following situations:

1. Driving off the road. Yes, it happens. So, I take my learners on a country road and have them drive at a reasonable speed and steer just a little bit off the road so they understand what it feels like and how to safely get back on the road. I pick a spot where the drop off isn't that bad.

2. Driving in the rain. Beginners need to feel how a road can be slick immediately after the roadway gets wet after a long dry spell. They need to see how the vehicle handles when there is so much rain that the water builds up on the road and the car hydroplanes. They need to drive when the rain is so hard and fast you really can't see where you are going (time to pull over and stop someplace safe).

3. They need to drive through construction zones. Right now the intersection of Street 1 and Street 2 has been great - they have changed that configuration three times now - so the teen has to figure out *what* they are supposed to do. Luckily the construction folks have made it difficult to figure that out, so your teen has to use even more brain power. Random Street headed east onto Second Random Street - again a nice place to take them as the lane markers are currently missed, and you have two lanes plus a turn lane and you have to figure out where your vehicle is supposed to be.

4. Following and being the leader. I don't think people do that much anymore since everyone has a smart phone to give them directions, but the skill may come in handy. Learning to follow someone else to an unknown destination is an exercise! Learning how to lead (keeping a watch on the follower and then stopping and waiting for them if they get caught at a light) is also useful. This would only be for licensed drivers though.

5. Driving practice in high winds - well, because it is Texas and we often have high winds. Learn how to handle your high profile vehicle!

6. Passing on a two lane highway. Seriously, I think this one may be a lost art. People do not seem to know how to do this.

7. How to handle emergency situations. Come on now - how many people did you see ignore stop lights that were out during the last power outage? Make sure your teen drivers understand this!

8. Four-way stops. In our regular travels, the only busy 4-way stops we encounter are the ones downtown. And they aren't busy. But from the behavior of folks who actually stopped at the non-functioning stop lights recently, they have no idea of how they work either. So, go look for some and practice!

9. One way streets. Do we even have any in our town? We went to NearbyTown to use theirs.

10. Traffic circles - well, only if you are headed somewhere there is one. 

11. Various configurations of interstate exits/on-ramps. Our Town has a variety of these, so it is easy to show them and have them practice on many. Love the fact we even have a left exit on our Interstate!

What other driving situations do you make sure your beginning drivers face?


To me getting a license should only be when you, the parent, thinks the child is responsible and mature enough to handle a 3000 lb vehicle capable of inflicting grievous and bodily harm on others as well as themselves.


Additionally, we made both our teen drivers take Tire Rack's Street Survival course. Oldest said it really helped her when she was in a difficult situation - without that experience, she believed she would have been involved in a serious accident. 

 

These are brilliant!  Thank you for writing all that out!  I had thought of a few of them, but certainly not all of them.  Thank you.

Especially the driving off the road part.  I did that for the first time last year at age 45 and I handled it all wrong.  Yanked the wheel around.  Could have tipped the car.  I have thought of how to teach my son that one. I’d forgotten traffic circles and one-way streets and leading and following. I’ve had leaders keep going through lights and leave me behind and keep sailing up the road.  

One friend of ours did have her son get the license, but they were all (him included) in agreement that it didn’t mean he really could drive everywhere by himself.  He could get himself to a few simple places and back, but when it came to tricky driving in busier areas or highway driving, he only drove in those areas with a parent in the car.  With a willing driver that can work well:  the new driver can get himself to work and back without trouble, but doesn’t go driving around in places he’s not comfortable yet.  My son is compliant and would probably be very happy with that arrangement.  As I said, he isn’t chomping at the bit, but I think he finally realized that if he gets a license, he can get himself to the early bible study on Sunday mornings that he likes to go to, while the rest of us like to sleep.  Or that he can get himself to work in the rain instead of having to walk in the rain.  He’s not going to get his license and suddenly want to go on a trip to Washington DC by himself.

Edited by Garga
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It definitely depends on your approach. The road test was a formality for us. It was a hoop to jump through but didn’t equate to free reign. If you just want to get the road test over I would just schedule it (assuming a few months out) and practice, get the license, and just keep on practicing. Of course, in my state they don’t need to go on insurance until they get their license so that would be a reason to delay possibly.  The road test here is ridiculously easy to pass. So you could schedule it and then learn to drive well enough to pass it in very short time.

My current teen got his permit the day he turned 15 and drove pretty frequently and pretty badly for a long time. We let him take his test at 16 and then let him just go back and forth to a couple close easy places independently while having him continue to practice other routes with us in the car. He is now 16 and 6 months and is a really good driver. In the course of a year we went from thinking he might never be able to drive independently to letting him drive on interstates and long trips. He is a really good driver now. So we just had to keep practicing until it came together. 

We have had a long slow process of granting driving privileges. They continue to learn and practice as long as they are living at home. 

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The reason we encourage our teen drivers to get their license at the end of the six months is due to the cost of car insurance.  Insurance in this state "credits" the driver with "a good driving record" from the day they get their license. 

So, in our state, if your teen takes the test, gets his license and then never drives till he turns thirty, his cost for car insurance would be the exact same as my teen who turn the test and bought a car and drove every day until he turned thirty.   

Most teens start out paying just under $2,000/year for car insurance in this state. Getting their license asap helps towards good driving credits which drops the cost of car insurance each year.  (Families can still make rules when teens get their license early.)

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1 hour ago, teachermom2834 said:

It definitely depends on your approach. The road test was a formality for us. It was a hoop to jump through but didn’t equate to free reign. If you just want to get the road test over I would just schedule it (assuming a few months out) and practice, get the license, and just keep on practicing. Of course, in my state they don’t need to go on insurance until they get their license so that would be a reason to delay possibly.  The road test here is ridiculously easy to pass. So you could schedule it and then learn to drive well enough to pass it in very short time.

My current teen got his permit the day he turned 15 and drove pretty frequently and pretty badly for a long time. We let him take his test at 16 and then let him just go back and forth to a couple close easy places independently while having him continue to practice other routes with us in the car. He is now 16 and 6 months and is a really good driver. In the course of a year we went from thinking he might never be able to drive independently to letting him drive on interstates and long trips. He is a really good driver now. So we just had to keep practicing until it came together. 

We have had a long slow process of granting driving privileges. They continue to learn and practice as long as they are living at home. 

this is what we did.

My oldest was appalled. She was under the impression that as soon as she had the license, she'd be pretty much an adult. (She was driving MY vehicle.)
My younger dd has been fine. She doesn't have the over confidence that scared me about her sister.

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we have minimum hours they're supposed to practice before they can take their test.

I had to believe they were ready - based upon how they were driving, not how long they'd been driving - before they could sign up.

if he's "turned a corner" - he may be at the point where his skill building will pick up steam, instead of plodding along at the same level.

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In my state, I think it's 110 hours to take the test for a probationary license. 

Last year I taught a mate with an auto license to drive manual, and he did probably 35-40 hours between myself, my brother and a driving instructor. He'd never driven on a dirt road, a highway, in the city or really anywhere he didn't know, so we tortured him pretty thoroughly with that stuff. 😇

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1 hour ago, gardenmom5 said:

we have minimum hours they're supposed to practice before they can take their test.

I had to believe they were ready - based upon how they were driving, not how long they'd been driving - before they could sign up.

if he's "turned a corner" - he may be at the point where his skill building will pick up steam, instead of plodding along at the same level.

Yes, in the past two weeks he’s made more progress than it took him months to make previously.  He has anxiety and it was crippling him.  I think that something shifted in regards to the anxiety.  He is much calmer and confident and it all happened very fast.  He went from having to stop and take deep breaths and erupting into anger and emotion, to wanting to drive and popping into the car without the breathing and he stays very calm the whole time.  It was like a switch was flipped.

So, I think he’ll actually progress now.  I know that we have to drive for 65 hours per law (10 at night and 5 in bad weather), and he’s already driven many, many (many) hours...but with no progress until now.  I’m tempted not to even count those hours of time toward the 65 hour total because they were so stagnant.  

I was just wondering roughly how long it took for an average new driver to be ready to be on the road in people’s real life experience. 

Edited by Garga
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18 minutes ago, Garga said:

 

I was just wondering roughly how long it took for an average new driver to be ready to be on the road in people’s real life experience. 

I didn't pay attention to the weeks/months - or, I'll admit, hours.

I paid attention to if I felt comfortable being a passenger in the car with them.

the more driving - the faster it will go.

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I have no idea how many hours it took. I didn’t keep track but felt comfortable signing off on the 50 required hours knowing that it had been at least that much. Never logged the hours. One ds was better after a week than the next one was after six months.

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2 hours ago, Rosie_0801 said:

In my state, I think it's 110 hours to take the test for a probationary license. 

Last year I taught a mate with an auto license to drive manual, and he did probably 35-40 hours between myself, my brother and a driving instructor. He'd never driven on a dirt road, a highway, in the city or really anywhere he didn't know, so we tortured him pretty thoroughly with that stuff. 😇

 

I believe it's actually 120 hours now, including 20 night time driving.

VicRoads gives you a log book when you get your learners permit, and it must be filled in fully and correctly when you go to sit your licence test.

So around 10 hours a month for a year, or 20 hours a month for 6 months.

Practically, I think it takes much less than that to gain the skill, but for a young person to become a safe and confident driver it's probably about right. 

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Our state has a minimum of 100 hours driving practice time required to get a license before age 18– in as varied conditions as possible and with idea that learning / teaching should continue even after getting the probationary license. (Because they can pass the requirements for license but still be needing lots more practice and learning in new types of situations and skills.) 

A passed driving class (33 class hours and 12 in-vehicle hours) from a certified driving school counts as 50 hours, decreasing the logged practice hours required to 50.  

It also allows teens to have the driving test (not the written tests) waived if the certified driving school has issued the student a plastic card showing successful drive experience with them equivalent to the DMV exam.  Which may be unusual for our state, but worth checking yours. 

14 and 15 yos additionally have a 1 year or to age 16 whichever is later iirc time before they can move from Permit to provisional license, during which time they are supposed to be practicing. Over 16 the wait (minimum practice) time is 6 months. 

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DD17 had her temporary license for almost a year before taking the test. Her schedule was so busy that she barely had time to practice (20+ hours of ballet, in addition to brick and mortar school). Her progress was slow, but I think she could have done it much faster, if she had had time to practice.

By the time DD succeeded, we were coming up on the time for her temps to expire; in our state, after 12 months, if you don't have your permanent license, you have to retake the test to get your temps. You might check your state laws regarding this. If your son would have to take steps to renew the temporary license, you might want to schedule the appointment with that in mind, to get it done before it expires.

 

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How old is your Ds and when could he first try to get his license just in terms of required age / waiting time?

if he already could in theory do so, I’d calculate the hours practice you expect to do per week on average — and look at what your state test will require .  If he’s really just starting from almost scratch and didn’t learn testing skills in parking lot like parallel and perpendicular parking, I’d suggest at least 50 hours from now to test time.

 

But emphasize that the DL will not mean training and supervised driving is over. 

 

Btw, his new calmness sounds wonderful! Do you have any idea how he got over  his anxiety ?

 

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8 hours ago, amyx4 said:

The reason we encourage our teen drivers to get their license at the end of the six months is due to the cost of car insurance.  Insurance in this state "credits" the driver with "a good driving record" from the day they get their license. 

So, in our state, if your teen takes the test, gets his license and then never drives till he turns thirty, his cost for car insurance would be the exact same as my teen who turn the test and bought a car and drove every day until he turned thirty.   

Most teens start out paying just under $2,000/year for car insurance in this state. Getting their license asap helps towards good driving credits which drops the cost of car insurance each year.  (Families can still make rules when teens get their license early.)

 

I’m confused.

It sounds like you are suggesting that getting a license even if there won’t be any driving is cost effective. ?

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10 hours ago, Garga said:

My oldest son has haaaaated learning to drive. 

But in the past two weeks he’s turned a corner and is now moderately motivated.  He’s not chomping at the bit, but he’s finally starting to feel confident about learning to drive.  He’s had a permit for 9 months and until about 2 weeks ago, he was still in parking lots and empty streets because he just wasn’t ready for more and he hated every second of driving.

And then, suddenly, he was ready for streets with cars.  And ready for driving around town.  And then last week for the first time he initiated a conversation about driving and said, “Whenever you have to go on an errand, I think I should be the one to drive.”  Until last week, whenever it was time for a driving lesson he would grumble about it and hated every second of it, and there he was, offering to drive!

I’m very VERY proud of him for turning this corner.

I was told by the DMV when we got the permit to make the appointment for the driving test that same day because it takes months to get an appointment.  I’d like to go ahead and schedule the driving test since it sounds like you have to schedule them months ahead of time...but for when?  With a moderately motivated new driver, how long does it take to be ready to take a driver’s test?  It probably depends on how many times you can go out each week and how long each session is, so if you remember, can you tell me your story of when your new driver was ready for the driving test?

I don’t have much advice but just want to say good on your for letting him take it so slow and easy.  I think I could have avoided the level of anxiety that made it take forever for me if I’d had a more gentle start instead of sink or swim.

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My ds was my most recent experience. He had his permit for years before he felt ready to drive. I kept encouraging him but he resisted and I didn't want to insist because if he didn't think he was ready, why would I endanger other drivers by putting him on the road? Now granted, he has Aspergers so he has developed more slowly than peers. However, he finally turned a corner and realized he was ready to drive and needed the independence of being able to drive himself. I took him around for a couple of weeks on easy routes where he wouldn't encounter much traffic. We drove in a park parking lot many times. When I felt he was ready for other cars, I began logging his hours. In Georgia, he needed 40 hours with 6 of them being at night. I calculated how long it might take him to get his 40 hours in and then scheduled his test for after that. My DMV wasn't as difficult to get into as yours sounds so I had no problem getting him scheduled. I think I gave him 4 months. He never drove longer than 30 minutes but preferred shorter time periods. He finally finished his 40 hours a week or so before his test. I felt that he was ready. I had also hired a professional driving instructor to make sure he was ready for that test. He did well with them, passing all the items on their checklist. He passed his test on the first try.

He is an extremely cautious driver. He takes the easy route everywhere he goes and hasn't been on a fast highway since he was tested last December. I told him he should drive on a highway at least once a week so he doesn't lose the skill of being able to merge on the highway but he resists the idea. 

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Oldest is 21 and still doesn't drive.  He passed drivers ed but refused to get the permit.  That was 4 years ago now.  He has no desire although every now and then he will say, "Guess I should drive sometime."  We have encouraged him to just get the permit and drive just around our area, not in the city, just so he can get from point A to B without having to rely on others.  But he has to want it.

Middle got his permit at 16, license at 17.  Has driven ever since. 

Youngest is 15 and has his permit.  He drives quite a bit and wants his license the day he is eligible.  He is my social kid, and has a girlfriend he has had for 18 months (but who know by the time he gets his license in the late Spring of next year.).  So he is motivated to be able to go out and about.

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7 hours ago, Storygirl said:

DD17 had her temporary license for almost a year before taking the test. Her schedule was so busy that she barely had time to practice (20+ hours of ballet, in addition to brick and mortar school). Her progress was slow, but I think she could have done it much faster, if she had had time to practice.

By the time DD succeeded, we were coming up on the time for her temps to expire; in our state, after 12 months, if you don't have your permanent license, you have to retake the test to get your temps. You might check your state laws regarding this. If your son would have to take steps to renew the temporary license, you might want to schedule the appointment with that in mind, to get it done before it expires.

The permit will expire in mid-September.  We’ll have to have that renewed, as I doubt he’ll be ready in 2 months.  But I had forgotten that he’ll probably have to retake the knowledge test.  He’ll have to re-read the book and get it all fresh in his mind again.  Thanks for the reminder!  

5 hours ago, Pen said:

How old is your Ds and when could he first try to get his license just in terms of required age / waiting time?

if he already could in theory do so, I’d calculate the hours practice you expect to do per week on average — and look at what your state test will require .  If he’s really just starting from almost scratch and didn’t learn testing skills in parking lot like parallel and perpendicular parking, I’d suggest at least 50 hours from now to test time.

But emphasize that the DL will not mean training and supervised driving is over. 

Btw, his new calmness sounds wonderful! Do you have any idea how he got over  his anxiety ?

He’s 16.  You can get the permit on your 16th birthday and 6 months (and 65 hours of driving later), you can get the license.  He got the permit about 2 weeks after his birthday and it’s been 10 months since then.  

I’m really not sure how he got over it and he’s not a talker so he doesn’t offer information like that.  🙂. (Sweet kid, but doesn’t really think to start conversations about things like this).  He goes to a counselor about once a month in the summer, and after his last visit about a week and a half ago, something changed.  He started saying, “I’ve got this,” when he was in the car and we would say something like, “Tight turn coming up, take it slowly.” And he’d say, “I’m confident I can do this.”  I haven’t asked him specifically, because I told him I wouldn’t grill him about what he talks about to the counselor, but I kinda think she told him to say these affirming statements.  I’ve never heard him say these things before, “I’ve got this” and “I’m confident I can do this,” but I think it’s having a real impact on him.  

5 hours ago, Ausmumof3 said:

I don’t have much advice but just want to say good on your for letting him take it so slow and easy.  I think I could have avoided the level of anxiety that made it take forever for me if I’d had a more gentle start instead of sink or swim.

Yes.  We didn’t realize it was real anxiety until only about 6-7 months ago and started treatments for him.  And once I realized he was having actual diagnosable anxiety, I told him that it was ok if learning took a very long time.  But the counselor told us that he needed to keep getting behind the wheel, even if it was only in parking lots and only for a few minutes.  I gave lots of speeches about how it is ok to take a long time if he needed it.  There wasn’t pressure to do anything he couldn’t do, because if he felt pressure, he’d get chest pain and clutch at his chest and once he was at the point, the lesson had to be shut down. 

We never, ever drove for more than 20 minutes at a time, and at the 10 minute mark, he could stop if he wanted to.  He could stop at any time to breathe.  There was no real goal other than getting behind the wheel and sloooooowly getting used to being in the car.  

However, the counselor slowly started giving him goals.  One week was to get out of the parking lot and drive down the least busy street he knows.  She said, “It’s ok if you just drive for 2 minutes on that street, but find a street and drive it.”  The next goal was to go through a stop light.  Just one.  It took him a month to be ready, but after a month, he drove through a stop light—it went from one parking lot, over a street, right into another one.

And then suddenly...he was ready to drive to the church.  And to the bank.  And then on all the errands—asking if he could be the one to drive.  

The reason we didn’t wait entirely and table driving?  Two things:. 1.  He will be going to a college 45 minutes away in August of 2020.. That college is kinda our only option. DH works there, so tuition is free.  DH could drive him to school if ds absolutely cannot drive, but the goal is for ds to drive himself so he’s not tied to DH’s schedule.  2.  From what I understand, if you have anxiety, you simply must face certain things in tiny bite sizes, or you don’t progress past it—the anxiety gets worse the more you put something off.  So, we took things in tiny bite sizes, hoping to help him gain confidence that he could “get this.”  🙂

 

 

Edited by Garga
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1 hour ago, Night Elf said:

My ds was my most recent experience. He had his permit for years before he felt ready to drive. I kept encouraging him but he resisted and I didn't want to insist because if he didn't think he was ready, why would I endanger other drivers by putting him on the road? Now granted, he has Aspergers so he has developed more slowly than peers. However, he finally turned a corner and realized he was ready to drive and needed the independence of being able to drive himself. I took him around for a couple of weeks on easy routes where he wouldn't encounter much traffic. We drove in a park parking lot many times. When I felt he was ready for other cars, I began logging his hours. In Georgia, he needed 40 hours with 6 of them being at night. I calculated how long it might take him to get his 40 hours in and then scheduled his test for after that. My DMV wasn't as difficult to get into as yours sounds so I had no problem getting him scheduled. I think I gave him 4 months. He never drove longer than 30 minutes but preferred shorter time periods. He finally finished his 40 hours a week or so before his test. I felt that he was ready. I had also hired a professional driving instructor to make sure he was ready for that test. He did well with them, passing all the items on their checklist. He passed his test on the first try.

He is an extremely cautious driver. He takes the easy route everywhere he goes and hasn't been on a fast highway since he was tested last December. I told him he should drive on a highway at least once a week so he doesn't lose the skill of being able to merge on the highway but he resists the idea. 

I’ve known of a driving instructor who teaches all the kids at the local high school.  She only charges $50 for 6 sessions.  I haven’t contacted her before, since my son was so scared of driving.  Her sessions last an hour and he could barely do 20 minutes each time.  But yesterday, I asked him son, “I know of an instructor.  Would you be ok if you took some sessions with her?  She’d have you drive for an hour, but she is a professional so she knows how to teach you.  I wouldn’t start you up with her for a few more weeks, but are you open to that idea?”  Before these past couple of weeks, I know he’d have given a HUGE no.  But he just looked at me for a beat and said, “Yes, that would be good.”  

So, I’m in the process of contacting her.  She wrote to me and said that the student has to go through the driver’s ed class at the school (she assumed my son went to the school) before driving with her. I told her he’s homeschooled and showed her the driver’s ed online course I’d been planning on using and asked if that was ok, but she hasn’t written back yet.  (But it’s only been overnight since I wrote to her.)

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27 minutes ago, Garga said:

The permit will expire in mid-September.  We’ll have to have that renewed, as I doubt he’ll be ready in 2 months.  But I had forgotten that he’ll probably have to retake the knowledge test.  He’ll have to re-read the book and get it all fresh in his mind again.  Thanks for the reminder!  

Just FYI, check your state requirements. I live in GA and we can renew a permit as many times as we want without retesting. I have done it online and they send a new license with a new expiration date. Then when you go get your actual license, you don't retest the knowledge test. They figure once it's done, it's done.

 

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19 minutes ago, Garga said:

I’ve known of a driving instructor who teaches all the kids at the local high school.  She only charges $50 for 6 sessions.  I haven’t contacted her before, since my son was so scared of driving.  Her sessions last an hour and he could barely do 20 minutes each time.  But yesterday, I asked him son, “I know of an instructor.  Would you be ok if you took some sessions with her?  She’d have you drive for an hour, but she is a professional so she knows how to teach you.  I wouldn’t start you up with her for a few more weeks, but are you open to that idea?”  Before these past couple of weeks, I know he’d have given a HUGE no.  But he just looked at me for a beat and said, “Yes, that would be good.”  

So, I’m in the process of contacting her.  She wrote to me and said that the student has to go through the driver’s ed class at the school (she assumed my son went to the school) before driving with her. I told her he’s homeschooled and showed her the driver’s ed online course I’d been planning on using and asked if that was ok, but she hasn’t written back yet.  (But it’s only been overnight since I wrote to her.)

That's great! I had to pay $350 for 6 hours of driving instruction over 3 sessions of 2 hours each. My ds didn't think he'd last that long but the instructor kept him busy with doing various skills not just one thing, and the time passed quickly. Then we saved the last 2 hour lesson for the day before his actual driving test. She went over exactly what the DMV was going to do on his test. She even drove the route with him that they would take. However, he said they took a different route on his test but it was easier than the one his instructor had taken him on. Weird.

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I think he is doing fine.....is he 16?  Some personalities have a difficult time learning to drive but they do eventually turn a corner.  In my world though not driving is really not an option.  Since he just now turned the corner so to speak I would give him at least several months of steady practice....,,and yes your state probably has hours required so look those up and use as a guide..,.then set the appointment and give him that as a goal.  If he isnt ready by then, just reschedule.  

Good for you for your insistence he learn and your patience.

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I generally think I’d set the date (with rescheduling possible if he’s not ready) for halfway between now and August 2020 when you hope he’ll be ready to drive to school.  

That would give about half a year to practice and learn  before the test and half a year to work toward independently being ready to drive to the college and back.

Only caveat is would weather make it especially hard to do test at the midpoint?  If so I’d schedule for spring or early summer 2020. 

You can start working on the route to college and back before he has DL anyway (as soon as he’s ready) and then work on the independent aspect as soon as he gets his license.  So if he already were competently driving to and from the college with you passively in passenger seat no longer advising him what to do, it might be largely the anxiety part of doing it alone that would remain. 

Personally I’d focus on that one college location destination, not all manner of driving.  Then he could still be learning other driving situations well past the time he gets his DL. 

Edited by Pen
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Eldest ds got his temps at 18 spent some sporadic sessions in the parking lot, progressed enough to drive on the road, did some driving on back roads but when we got to city driving he freaked out and did nothing for over a year. I was tired of toting him around so I told him the summer he was 20, he was learning to drive whether he liked it or not. We practiced at a minimum of 30 minutes every day for 3 months and he passed on first try. It took many months before he drove anywhere that wasnt work, church or the walmart down the street but he got there.

2nd ds got his permit 11 months ago, but due to my busyness I just kinda forgot about it and he seldom mentioned it so we just started last week. He's motivated because he wants to apprentice in the trades but needs a driver's license to apply. We drive at least an hour a day. Day one was parking lots only, day 2 was residential streets by day 3 he was doing 45 on back country roads. He hesitates too long on turns/crossing intersections because he really wants to make sure its clear and safe which I appreciate but has annoyed quite a few drivers behind him who want him to go faster but otherwise he`s doing amazingly well. He's not practicing for 2 weeks while I'm traveling but we`ll hit it hard when I get back. I have no doubt he'll be ready for his test the end of September (I scheduled it after his 3rd day driving because we have a several months wait and if was clear he was going to progress much faster than his brother). So all total he'll have about 2 months of driving practice. But since he's almost 19, there is a bit more maturity there than a 16 year old.

My 16 year old is chomping at the bit to get her license but she has to wait until she's 18 (drivers ed isn't required for over 18 and skipping that saves us a ton of money) 16 year is convinced if she has a license she can go wherever she wants whenever she wants which just tells me she doesn't have the emotional maturity for a license because there is no way any of my kids will get that level if freedom with a vehicle I own.

Edited by cjzimmer1
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44 minutes ago, Pen said:

I generally think I’d set the date (with rescheduling possible if he’s not ready) for halfway between now and August 2020 when you hope he’ll be ready to drive to school.  

That would give about half a year to practice and learn  before the test and half a year to work toward independently being ready to drive to the college and back.

Only caveat is would weather make it especially hard to do test at the midpoint?  If so I’d schedule for spring or early summer 2020. 

You can start working on the route to college and back before he has DL anyway (as soon as he’s ready) and then work on the independent aspect as soon as he gets his license.  So if he already were competently driving to and from the college with you passively in passenger seat no longer advising him what to do, it might be largely the anxiety part of doing it alone that would remain. 

Personally I’d focus on that one college location destination, not all manner of driving.  Then he could still be learning other driving situations well past the time he gets his DL. 

This is a good plan!  I love this plan!  I think my son will love it, too.  

Weather shouldn’t be a problem in the winter. We get an occasional snowstorm, but it’s usually only a couple of times a year that things get bad enough to have to cancel driving tests.  The roads are usually cleared pretty fast.

A local friend knows the route that the new drivers take for their test, so we can drive that as well to prepare for the test.

I also think it’ll take even more pressure off my son if he realizes that even with the license he’ll still be able to be learning from us and will have limits on where he’s expected to drive alone.  I guess we never really thought to tell him that he wouldn’t be forced to drive everywhere alone once he has his license.  It would just open up for him to be *able* to drive alone to the very close places if he wants to.  But we wouldn’t say, “Welp, you have your license now, son.  It’s time for you to drive down to Washington DC alone in rush hour traffic.  Off you go, then.”  We’d only say, “Welp, you have your license now, son.  So you can drive yourself to the 2 miles to church for your youth group.”  

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1 hour ago, Garga said:

The permit will expire in mid-September.  We’ll have to have that renewed, as I doubt he’ll be ready in 2 months.  But I had forgotten that he’ll probably have to retake the knowledge test.  He’ll have to re-read the book and get it all fresh in his mind again.  Thanks for the reminder!  

He’s 16.  You can get the permit on your 16th birthday and 6 months (and 65 hours of driving later), you can get the license.  He got the permit about 2 weeks after his birthday and it’s been 10 months since then.  

I’m really not sure how he got over it and he’s not a talker so he doesn’t offer information like that.  🙂. (Sweet kid, but doesn’t really think to start conversations about things like this).  He goes to a counselor about once a month in the summer, and after his last visit about a week and a half ago, something changed.  He started saying, “I’ve got this,” when he was in the car and we would say something like, “Tight turn coming up, take it slowly.” And he’d say, “I’m confident I can do this.”  I haven’t asked him specifically, because I told him I wouldn’t grill him about what he talks about to the counselor, but I kinda think she told him to say these affirming statements.  I’ve never heard him say these things before, “I’ve got this” and “I’m confident I can do this,” but I think it’s having a real impact on him.  

Yes.  We didn’t realize it was real anxiety until only about 6-7 months ago and started treatments for him.  And once I realized he was having actual diagnosable anxiety, I told him that it was ok if learning took a very long time.  But the counselor told us that he needed to keep getting behind the wheel, even if it was only in parking lots and only for a few minutes.  I gave lots of speeches about how it is ok to take a long time if he needed it.  There wasn’t pressure to do anything he couldn’t do, because if he felt pressure, he’d get chest pain and clutch at his chest and once he was at the point, the lesson had to be shut down. 

We never, ever drove for more than 20 minutes at a time, and at the 10 minute mark, he could stop if he wanted to.  He could stop at any time to breathe.  There was no real goal other than getting behind the wheel and sloooooowly getting used to being in the car.  

However, the counselor slowly started giving him goals.  One week was to get out of the parking lot and drive down the least busy street he knows.  She said, “It’s ok if you just drive for 2 minutes on that street, but find a street and drive it.”  The next goal was to go through a stop light.  Just one.  It took him a month to be ready, but after a month, he drove through a stop light—it went from one parking lot, over a street, right into another one.

And then suddenly...he was ready to drive to the church.  And to the bank.  And then on all the errands—asking if he could be the one to drive.  

The reason we didn’t wait entirely and table driving?  Two things:. 1.  He will be going to a college 45 minutes away in August of 2020.. That college is kinda our only option. DH works there, so tuition is free.  DH could drive him to school if ds absolutely cannot drive, but the goal is for ds to drive himself so he’s not tied to DH’s schedule.  2.  From what I understand, if you have anxiety, you simply must face certain things in tiny bite sizes, or you don’t progress past it—the anxiety gets worse the more you put something off.  So, we took things in tiny bite sizes, hoping to help him gain confidence that he could “get this.”  🙂

 

 

Sounds basically perfect.  The only other thing is to look into an instructor who specialises in anxious drivers but you honestly sound like you’re doing a great job.

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My kid had to renew his permit and he did not have to retake a knowledge test.  So definitely check your state requirements.  

Kids in our state have to log 50-60 hours practice driving.  He had a permit over 2 years and practiced a bunch more.  

I really think this depends on the kind of area you live in, the kind of day to day driving kid needs to do, and kid's and parent's comfort levels.  

My 18 year old has had a license for a while.  But we live in the middle of an urban area.  That's covered in construction for the summer.  He has not been super comfortable driving in these conditions and we had good public transit options.  So my husband keeps practicing with him.  If he's driving local roads or gets to further out suburbs, no problem.  Also, right now we have 2 mini vans.  So I think handling/parking a larger vehicle in tight spaces (city parking is ALWAYS tight) puts him off too.  But if he HAD to drive all the time I think he'd be fine, he's fine for errand running, etc.  

He's leaving for college last month and he's going to a college campus where it makes very little sense to take a car.  Little to no parking.  Parking runs $150+ a month regularly and people need to uber to cheaper long term parking.   Decent transit/campus buses.  So guess he'll be out of practice.  I'm still glad he got the license and we've spent the time.  If he needs to drive, he will be able to.  It's pretty life limiting not to drive at all.  

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8 hours ago, Pen said:

I’m confused.

It sounds like you are suggesting that getting a license even if there won’t be any driving is cost effective. ?

 

Yes, that's exactly in case in my state. Yes, we find it confusing too 🙂 

I only mentioned it because for some families that financial information may help nudge the teen toward driving. Check with your car insurance company YMMV

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1 hour ago, Garga said:

This is a good plan!  I love this plan!  I think my son will love it, too.  

Weather shouldn’t be a problem in the winter. We get an occasional snowstorm, but it’s usually only a couple of times a year that things get bad enough to have to cancel driving tests.  The roads are usually cleared pretty fast.

A local friend knows the route that the new drivers take for their test, so we can drive that as well to prepare for the test.

 

And make sure all specifics on test are covered. For example, Not all states have parallel parking anymore, but when they do that can trip people up. 

1 hour ago, Garga said:

I also think it’ll take even more pressure off my son if he realizes that even with the license he’ll still be able to be learning from us and will have limits on where he’s expected to drive alone.  I guess we never really thought to tell him that he wouldn’t be forced to drive everywhere alone once he has his license.  It would just open up for him to be *able* to drive alone to the very close places if he wants to.  But we wouldn’t say, “Welp, you have your license now, son.  It’s time for you to drive down to Washington DC alone in rush hour traffic.  Off you go, then.”  We’d only say, “Welp, you have your license now, son.  So you can drive yourself to the 2 miles to church for your youth group.”  

 

I think you are lucky in a way to have this side of it.  My Ds  I am more needing to warn that license doesn’t mean he’ll be suddenly experienced and expert let alone have free reign to go anywhere anytime. 

Definitely reassure him that he will continue to have your help to learn more and more for at least a year, probably several years.  

I’d also Consider reassuring him that even if he has his license in January, if he’s not ready to drive to the college alone yet in August he can keep working on that until he is.  Maybe his dad would drive him, or maybe even better, he’d drive his dad for a couple of months to really solidify that. 

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20 hours ago, Garga said:

Yes, in the past two weeks he’s made more progress than it took him months to make previously.  He has anxiety and it was crippling him.  I think that something shifted in regards to the anxiety.  He is much calmer and confident and it all happened very fast.  He went from having to stop and take deep breaths and erupting into anger and emotion, to wanting to drive and popping into the car without the breathing and he stays very calm the whole time.  It was like a switch was flipped.

So, I think he’ll actually progress now.  I know that we have to drive for 65 hours per law (10 at night and 5 in bad weather), and he’s already driven many, many (many) hours...but with no progress until now.  I’m tempted not to even count those hours of time toward the 65 hour total because they were so stagnant.  

I was just wondering roughly how long it took for an average new driver to be ready to be on the road in people’s real life experience. 

I probably wouldn’t. My experience was similar, though not as extreme as yours. One kid was very anxious and was practically terrified with the big intersection on a four lane highway near here. So I didn’t log the first really unproductive practice sessions. 

I think it took around a year with both of my big kids. I totally agree with the PP who spelled out a bunch of situations; I did that with mine, too. I remember there was a particular area where one has to merge onto the interstate with almost no merge area. I included this spot as one of my tests, though that was after my kids had turned the corner on driving anxieties. 

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I did think of one other thing.  Here we have to option to do a competency based training book rather than a driving test with a stranger.  You do have to pass a kind of test with your driving instructor at the end.  Obviously this option may not be available to you but the book itself was incredibly helpful for me because it literally broke every driving task down into the smallest steps of what needs to be done in what order and what needs to be checked for.  Many drivers (and even instructors) do these things intuitively or not at all so don’t think to pass it on in that detail.  Having a written process to learn and follow really helped.  There’s a link here to our local one which obviously won’t be the same road rules but if you don’t have something similar might be helpful for seeing how to break the tasks right down into small bits.  The actual info starts around page 41

http://mylicence.sa.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/498166/MR195_The_Driving_Companion.pdf

Edited by Ausmumof3
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