Rye Students Share Their Advice About Driving

Photo+from+travelers.com.

Photo from travelers.com.

For students approaching the age of 16, getting a permit and learning to drive can seem like a daunting and confusing process. Then, once you have your permit, how do you should you prepare for your road test? Should you enroll in driver’s ed or opt to take the five hour course? If you are unsure of the answers to any of these questions, then you’ve come to the right place—here is what other Rye student drivers and I wish we knew before we learned to drive.

Getting Your Permit and The Permit Test:

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Getting a learner’s permit is the first step to getting your driver’s license. To obtain a learner’s permit, you must take a test composed of 30 multiple choice questions. The test is held at the DMV in Yonkers, NY, which is about 36 minutes away from Rye. When scheduling your road test, make sure you will be able to leave with enough time to get to the DMV before your scheduled test, since the drive can be traffic heavy.

The earliest date you can take your permit test is the day you turn 16, but most Rye students would not recommend taking the test on your actual birthday since getting a permit at the DMV can take hours.

Junior Jackie Walker recalled her DMV horror story from when she took her permit test. “I don’t have a U.S. citizenship, so they just didn’t understand what to do when I took my permit test at the DMV. My advice for people who don’t have a citizenship and are planning a trip to the DMV: bring your patience with you and don’t expect to go in and out in less than an hour.”

As for how to pass the actual test, most students would say you could probably pass without studying, but you should study anyways to be safe. Most kids taking their permit test are surprised when they realize how much they don’t know about road signs, traffic signals, and the general rules of the road, which is the information the test covers. The website for the New York State DMV has all the information you need to know about obtaining a permit and also useful practice questions for studying for the test.

Rules of Driving With a Permit:

Photo from the USAA Educational Foundation.

It’s important to know that there are restrictions to driving with a permit. Permit holders can only drive between the hours of 5 a.m. and 9 p.m., and they must be accompanied a person over the age of 21 in the car who holds a valid license.

You may not drive with a learner’s permit on any street in New York City, on any bridge or tunnel under the Tri-borough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, on any parkways in Westchester County, or in a DMV road test area. Doing so can result in getting your permit taken away. Many of these rules are solely created for safety concerns because these areas are known for being difficult to drive on.

Learning to Drive:

Now that you have your permit, how should you tackle learning to drive? Most Rye students learn to drive with the help of their parents or a guardian over the age of 21, but there are other options. Some people find that a private driving instructor is helpful.

One popular company is called Real McCoy Driving School Inc., which is run by Andrew McCoy and offers driving instruction, road test scheduling, and preparation. Juniors Grace Macdonald and Olivia Dabinett reflected on their experiences in these private lessons. “Andrew is a great driving teacher, and he made me feel a lot more confident while behind the wheel,” said Grace. “He really helps you nail the important maneuvers and is a fun person to have as a driving instructor,” added Olivia.

Driver’s Ed vs. The Five Hour Course:

Another choice you’ll have to make when preparing to take your road test is whether you’ll do driver’s ed or the five hour course. Although you need to take one of them to be eligible to take your road test, there are many pros and cons of each.

One con is that driver’s ed is a huge commitment, so you’ll really need to manage your time well if you do it. Driver’s ed consists of 90 minutes of driving and 90 minutes of lecture every week for 16 weeks when taken during the fall or spring session. Not to mention, the closest driver’s ed location is all the way at Stepinac High School, which adds an extra 30 minutes every lesson just to drive there and back. Driver’s ed also comes at a fee of $635, which seems expensive until you compare it to the five hour course, which is only $90 for five hours. One pro of driver’s ed is that students who take it will be able to get their senior license when they turn 17 instead of 18 and a discount on insurance.

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Junior Grace Porter said, “The only reason it’s worth it is because you get a discount on insurance and you’ll be able get your senior license sooner. But I still haven’t gotten the card for my senior license because you need to go to the DMV and wait for it.”

The summer session is much more condensed because it only goes for 6 weeks. Junior Catherine Egan said, “I wish I knew that you can’t miss a lot because you have to do make up sessions for every single one you miss. Also, the summer one starts very, very early. I had to get up at 6am. We also had homework.”

Additionally, every student who takes drivers ed is required to take a midterm and a final and must get at least a 65 in order to pass the class.

Most students who opt to take the five hour course do it with Formula One Driving School in Mamaroneck. Unlike drivers ed, the course offers five hours of lecture with no driving instruction. However, it also gets generally poor reviews. Junior Hallie Rosenfield said, “It was boring, and I learned nothing.” Junior Eve Dalton recommended, “Go with someone so you’ll have someone to suffer through it with. If you go alone, you’ll be sitting there for five hours by yourself.”

If this is sounding like a lose-lose situation, that’s probably because it is. But it will be worth it when you pass your road test in the end.

The Road Test:

Photo from Lauren Fix.

The basic maneuvers you’ll need to perform on your road test are parallel parking, turning left and right, and a 3-point/k-turn. The test usually lasts for about 20 minutes but is sometimes even shorter. You can choose to take the test in either White Plains or Pleasantville. Although some people say the course is easier in Pleasantville, whether or not you pass mostly depends on how well prepared you are and whether the person grading you is lenient or not.

When scheduling your test, make sure you schedule it well in advance because spots fill up and they only offer tests on weekdays. The best thing you can do on the day of your test is to be confident and remember your skills.