Dear PoPville – Driving School?

Photo by PoPville flickr user ianseanlivingston

“Dear PoPville,

I am reaching out to the larger PoP community in the hopes of getting a recommendation for a good driving school/instructor in DC. I am (embarrasingly) 29 years old and never learned how to drive for a number of reasons. I feel it’s time I rectify the situation and I am in the process of trying to earn my driver’s license. I have already taken (and passed!) my learner’s permit test for DC and now I need some professional instruction. Wonderful friends and family have already taken me out to different parking lots to work of that initial nervousness but now I need help with all the technical aspects of driving – especially in DC! If anyone has any recommendations for DC based instructors or schools, I would be super grateful. There are few and sparse reviews on Yelp but if anyone knows of a similar resource I would be happy to check that out too.”

20 Comment

  • Thank you for posting this! I am in the same situation and have also been looking for an instructor.

  • I taught my wife to drive in DC, and she was older than you. Can’t you ask a friend — a good driver with a calm disposition — to take you out on the streets?

  • May I recommend that you find a good driving instructor that is accessible from a faraway Metro station, like Glenmont? You can then learn in a more relaxed suburban environment. It’ll add a couple hours to the time spent towards learning, but it will be worth it.

    The area in and around DC is a terrible place to have your first driving experience, especially if one of the reasons that prevented you from getting a license was being too nervous behind the wheel. People will simply not give a shit if you are a new driver and will ride your ass, swerve around you honking, flip you off, and generally treat you like dirt if you make them 0.0001 seconds late to whatever their important destination may be.

    I also know a good number of experienced drivers who refuse to enter DC proper, or even get within 10 miles of it because they are afraid.

    • I’d definitely be more afraid of the drivers 10 miles from DC than in DC itself.

      • Keep in mind most of the cars driving in DC are being driven from people living 10 miles from DC. Combine that with an urban environment (congestion, roadwork, pedestrians, etc.) and it’s a new driver’s worst nightmare.

        • Am I the only one that finds driving in DC a blast? It admittedly takes a while to get to know your way around, but once you do it’s full of cool secret routes and windy, fun to drive on parkways. Granted it sucks when traffic is gridlocked, but that doesn’t happen TOO often inside the city…

        • but they drive slower here.

      • You clearly dont get out much.

    • I definitely see Tenallytown’s point. I’m 26 and from the general area (Baltimore), but refused to drive within DC proper for a very very long time. The roundabouts, stop and go traffic, one-ways, pedestrians, and bikers can be pretty intimidating to a new driver. I’m NOT saying that you shouldn’t learn to navigate this environment, just that it might be good to start on on a “real road” that’s a little less stressful.

  • i love driving in dc, people act like total d**ks behind the wheel but when push comes to shove, 99.9% of drivers are chicken shits and will never actually hit your car/get out and beat you up.

  • i should say —99.9% of AGGRESSIVE drivers—

  • If anyone can recommend a driving school that teaches driving stick-shift, I’d appreciate it.

  • andy

    Beldar from the Coneheads?

  • My coworker’s husband has a driving school:

    Can’t recommend it myself since I learned from my dad as a teen, but there you go.

  • I 2nd (3rd?) the recommendation to take lessons in the suburbs. I’ve been driving since I was 16 and am a comfortable DC driver, but when my sister taught me to drive stick-shift at 24 years old it was terrible learning in D.C. Every time an ambulance approached I would freak out trying to pull over and stall the car. I recommend taking lessons in the suburbs, and then working up to DC driving, or asking a friend to take you driving around DC’s more complicated roads (Dupont Circle, Rock Creek Pkwy, the changing-direction lanes in Connecticut Ave, the I-395/295 merge mess) when you’re more confident.

  • I saw an advertisement for a driving school in Prince Georges Co. named “Arrive Alive” a few months ago…not sure if that was a good sign or not!

  • Elaine Butler was very good and I passed the driving test with her. I think she works for C.A.S driving school.

  • The Carter Baron parking lot at 16th St and Colorado Avenue is a calm place to start learning to drive. Then you can progress to Colorado Avenue itself which is wide enough to provide you with lots of places to pull over and scream if you get freaked out.

  • I recommend Peter Dibiaocha, the owner and instructor of Rock Driving School. Here is his website. To let you know you aren’t alone, here is my personal experience behind the wheel.
    I learned how to drive in NYC with a school and took just enough lessons to pass the test the first on the first try. I thought I was good to go when I went back to school for the fall in rural upstate NY, but I didn’t have any highway experience or any real experience past the 10 hours of lessons I took so I was really scared and stopped driving. Fast forward 8 years and with a few more attempts at driving behind me I still didn’t feel comfortable behind the wheel, so I decided to bite the bullet and pay someone for lessons. Mind you, I’ve had plenty of people attempt to help and have let me drive their cars, but it just didn’t do it for me. I took three two-hour lessons with Peter and I was able to practice with him all over DC on I-95 and 495. It was a wonderful experience. It was a little hefty on the pocket compared to what I was paying in NY, but he did pick me up from work and I drove myself home each time. This post is a reminder that I have to sing his praises on yelp.

    Good luck! You can do it!

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