Save Our Teen Drivers

Advocating for driver's education changes. Educating the public on the problem. Finding a solution that saves lives.

Driver’s training horor stories

Posted by lapearce on March 18, 2009

I recently conducted a survey where I asked people to share their driver’s training experience. I did so to confirm my belief that I am not the only one who sees the current driver’s training test as a joke. Here are some excerpts from my research:

“Was a 15 min ordeal in my case. Checked all the car functions and then had to reverse about 10-15 ft. Then a 10 min casual drive around the area and that was it. Pretty much a joke.”

— Kris, San Fransisco

“I passed the first time, it was all a joke.10-15 minute test: Start by checking wipers, lights etc, put seat belt on turn on car. Stop before the curb, check for pedestrians go forward. Drive around a few blocks, kept both hands on the wheel for the sake of passing. Had a few random blind spot turns, and a yield. Instructed to go into a certain lane, and back into the DMV. All in all about a 2 mile loop maximum. Yeah, a great big joke. Hardly any traffic, no freeway, no parallel parking.”

–James, Glendale

“My driving test definitely showed me why everyone is such a terrible driver. No freeway, no expressway, 10 minute cruise around the block with a simple “back-up against the curb.”A joke.”

— Andrew, San Jose

“Almost went into an oncoming lane when making a left hand turn (road markers were washed out) and still passed. I didn’t have to parallel park or do a 3-point turn, only reverse in a straight line next to a curb and basic traffic light procedures. No freeway driving, lasted maybe 15 minutes total.”

–Jamie, Bakersfield

“We went through all the switches and knobs of the car itself. Headlamps, turn signal, defroster, seat belt, etc. No parallel parking. Just pull over to the curb, put it in reverse, and go parallel to the curb for about 5 feet. No 3 point turn, no freeway driving, just driving in residential/business areas. I got negative points for not making a right hand turn when the light was red, and the cars coming from the perpendicular street were still far away. Negative points for not looking both ways while going through an intersection when it was green. (Seriously? All it takes is a quick glance, not full head turning.)Passed. It was weak, probably 15 minutes of total driving.”

–Chris, Santa Ana

” In the mid-1990s I took a driver’s test in Switzerland, and they were every bit as meticulous as you would expect the Swiss to be. It included parallel parking, parking on a hill, full braking, driving a longish stretch in reverse, freeway, countryside (to see if you know what to do when there’s farm equipment or livestock on the road), city. It’s the law there that you turn your engine off at stop lights, so you lost points if you didn’t do that, and you also lost points if you didn’t drive smoothly enough. Oh, and your blind spot comment reminded me that they def. check proper use of mirrors. People aren’t better drivers over there by accident.”

–Martie, Watsonsville

“Age at test time: 16 I did the test in my parent’s car, which I had never driven before and was not used to. Did I have to parallel park? – No. Did I have to three-point-turn? – No. Did I have to go on the freeway? – No. Did it matter where I put my hands? – Not sure, but the guy wasn’t looking. Did I pass? – Yes. Was it a total joke? – YES.

You know a little bit about the racing I do, so you know I’m reasonably qualified to say “It was a joke.” Their was no testing of the new driver’s ability to avoid accidents and control the car through such an evasive manoeuvre. No testing of threshold braking ability, which is something that is absolutely crucial to being able to stop a car in an emergency (whether or not the car has ABS. I’ve seen drivers simply not push the pedal hard enough in an ABS-equipped car.) What else…. no talk about what is the safest seating position, no mention of basic vehicle & tire dynamics (which are crucial to being able to understand how a car behaves at the limit in an accident-avoidance situation). ”

–Jeff, Fullerton

Not a single person I’ve asked so far has told me that the test was difficult, or even that it wasn’t a joke. My favorite comments are:

“My driving test definitely showed me why everyone is such a terrible driver.”

“People aren’t better drivers over there [Switzerland] by accident”

And Jeff’s comment.

Wake up Joan, you aren’t fooling anyone with your comment about how California’s driver’s education system is good. It isn’t even getting a passing grade.

Here is another blog I found where the comments are the same:


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