Adult driving school
January 17, 2007 4:12 PM   Subscribe

Help me learn how to drive in Philly!

The time has come...for me (31 years old, I know, I know) to finally grow up and learn how to drive! I plan to hire a driving instructor because I have no friends with cars in the area (Philly).

Three questions: 1) what's the absolute minimum number of hours over the minimum number of days that I need to learn enough to pass the Pa exam?

2) what's the closest-in suburb or neighborhood I can take the lessons in (and reach by public transport if needed) with the calmest traffic?

3) any driving school recommendations?
posted by footnote to Education (10 answers total)
Check your email. I sent a long email, but the bottom line is that I used Sears driving school, took 6 weeks of lessons, and that the teacher can pick you up at your home or work and determine the practice location from there.
posted by matildaben at 4:56 PM on January 17, 2007

Delaware County, the southwest suburbs, is easily reached by taking the El to 69th Street. Upper Darby, Drexel Hill, etc. all have lots of big, open shopping center parking lots to learn how to drive in (which is exactly where and how I did). There is also a photo/testing center in Upper Darby right off Garret Road, which feeds into 69th Street and is only a mile or so down the road.
posted by The Straightener at 5:02 PM on January 17, 2007

I would suggest driving lessons with AAA. They are very professional and they make sure you practical your parallel parking at least 3 times. (at least with me)

I'm not sure where the calmest traffic is, when I drove there it always seemed pretty annoying. I know that as soon as people see that you are a student driver, they freak out and drive away quick as can be.

But for test taking there is DMV across from Neshaminy mall. The 20 bus will take you there. It's in that strip mall with the laser tag. They have a closed course and the only time you go into traffic is to make 2 right turns. Oh and when you take your test, you can ask to use one of the DMV's cars, but you have to tell them that in advance though. (I wasn't sure if you knew that, I was surprised when I found that out. It shocked me that the PA DMV did something kind.)

There is no minimum number of anything, it's if you can you can, if you can't you have to schedule the test another day. Not that bad. Good luck!
posted by Attackpanda at 5:18 PM on January 17, 2007

You may want to read some of the comments on the PA DMV site. No minimum amount of hours required, and they tell you what you need to know and bring to the permit test. If it isn't too far, the Huntington Valley branch has a pretty easy driver's course (the 3 pt turn and parallel parking in their custom lot and the rest of the test out in traffic), and the one in Dublin is well-loved and well-known for being ridiculously easy (totally in their custom lot unless it's been very recently changed). Everyone goes there. I'm sure you'll do fine wherever you end up.
posted by iconomy at 5:45 PM on January 17, 2007

Know your parallel parking.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:02 PM on January 17, 2007

Second the recomendation for Sears, particuarly pick up and delivery. You can rent their car for the test. Neshaminy Mall might be quite a haul depending on where you live. DMV tests in Southwest Philly, near Island and Lindbergh, convenient to South and West Philly, and Levick and Oxford in NE Philly, close to Frankford/kensington/Port Richmond/Fishtown. Email is in profile if you need more info. Good luck.
posted by fixedgear at 6:26 PM on January 17, 2007

What about learning in the haddon township/collingswood area? It has its share of different road types, and Collingswood is approximately 8 minutes from Center City via PATCO. MUCH nicer than taking the EL out to 69th st.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 9:26 PM on January 17, 2007

I'd recommend giving up the "just getting by" attitude, and not going for the exam until you actually feel relaxed and competent. Driving lessons are cheaper than crash repairs and safer than crashes.
posted by flabdablet at 3:47 AM on January 18, 2007

Thanks for the help!

About the number of hours -- I'm more interested to know how long it takes to learn enough to be basically competent, rather than what's required by the DMV. Maybe I'll repost that in a general, non-philly specific driving question later on.

Flabdablet -- I want to be a good driver! My plan is to learn enough to get my license, then do a lot more practice in rented cars with coaching by friends who are good drivers. Until I get a license I can't rent a car, and I'm not comfortable borrowing friends' cars or asking them to drive with me before I have a license.
posted by footnote at 6:43 AM on January 18, 2007

I taught my son and my daughter how to drive. I started them both out in a parking lot, learning how to accelerate, brake, park, back up, turn....things like that. We probably spent about 2 hours in lots. Then into very quiet neighborhoods, and then into traffic situations, and then into higher speed traffic. To get your junior license you have to have logged 50 hours, but I felt that both of my kids, at 16, were ready to drive at about 30 hours. At 31 years of age, you should probably have at least 20 hours under your belt. But you'll know when you're ready.
posted by iconomy at 6:37 PM on January 18, 2007

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