Learning to drive can be such a big milestone. Though many young people can't wait to get behind the wheel, the process of becoming a responsible driver can be a bit overwhelming.
1. "This was a long time ago but in 1974, Louisville, Kentucky was hit with some pretty intense tornados. The damage was pretty bad. Two days later, I was taking my driving test when another tornado-spawning storm blew up. It was a horrible yellow-green outside and the tornado siren was BLARING! I started to head back to the test site and the instructor said, 'Where are you going? Your test isn’t over.' I kept driving, even though I was nearly done. She gave me a big fat zero on the whole test. She might have been willing to die for the DMV but I sure as fuck wasn’t going to."
2. "My driving instructor fell asleep during our lesson so we just kept driving. When the instructor finally woke up, we did not know where we were. The instructor told us to find a gas station to ask. The lesson was only supposed to be an hour, two tops, but we drove around for hours. This was before everyone had a cellphone or GPS."
3. "During my actual driving test, my examiner made some small talk and asked if I had any hobbies. I told him I was currently rehearsing for The Sound of Music at school. He then proceeded to burst into song, singing the first verse of the title track! I had to just sit there and humor him while he was in the middle of examining me!"
4. "My driver's ed instructor carried a long stick that he would poke out the window when we made a right turn to make sure we were the 'proper distance' from the curb while we were turning. Our first day driving, he turned to me while I was behind the wheel and said, 'Now, if I was beating you with this stick and you told me to stop and I slowed down, would you be happy?' I nervously said no and he replied, 'Same thing goes for a stop sign.'"
5. "During my driving test, I ran over a snake, hit a raccoon that ran out in the street, and a bird flew into the windshield — all within like 45 minutes. I still got 100%. The instructor was my best friend's dad who lived two houses down from us."
6. "I had my learner's permit and was driving with my mother in the passenger's seat. We were in an old, shitty AMC Concord that was so underpowered, you had to floor it to get over hills. At the top of the hill, I accidentally let the car get to 60 MPH in a 55 MPH zone. A cop pulled me over and once he realized that I was just a kid and didn’t have my license, he made me get in the back of his squad car and lectured me for over 30 minutes. I was a rather shy kid and his stern lecture had me in tears. I honestly thought I was going to jail. I didn’t drive again until I was nearly 18."
7. "My first driving test went alright until I came too close to the curb. The examiner then pretty much yanked the wheel to the left, causing me to pop the tires on my instructor's Mercedes and earn an instant fail."
8. "I was so nervous for my behind-the-wheel training with the instructor that I sobbed for the entire two-hour session. It wasn’t even the test. It was just the lesson. I thought I got it out of my system but when I went back the next week, I did it again. I cried uncontrollably for all three required training sessions with a very uncomfortable instructor trapped in there with me."
9. "I am a shitty driver — so shitty that at 17, I had already taken my test twice and failed both times. My mom decided that I needed to get driving lessons so I could finally pass my damn test. So the day comes and I arrived early so I could go through the course a few times before my test. I finished my practice test and as we (myself and my driving instructor) walked toward the door to go inside, we notice people standing outside the door. We walked up to them and they told us not to go inside because there was a medical emergency. I asked what exactly happened and they told me that someone had had a heart attack and died inside! I was already nervous, as this would be my third time taking the test, and having to sit outside and watch an ambulance take someone to the hospital did not help my poor, fried nerves."
"Thankfully, the EMTs were able to bring the man back. I also managed to somehow pass my test!"
10. "When I was 16, I learned to drive on a manual (stick shift). My dad was with me and was pretty patient. The road out of our neighborhood had a stop sign at the top of a pretty big hill. Driving a stick is hard because when you’re on a hill, you have to release the clutch at the same time you press on the gas to avoid rolling backwards. Well, I still hadn’t gotten the hang of it and as I was releasing the clutch to go, my car started rolling backward. It rolled right into a police car. Even though the cop was really understanding, I have never been more humiliated."
11. "It was my very first time behind a wheel and my mom took me to an empty library parking lot to practice. I slammed on the gas pedal like they do in all movies and managed to jump a median and almost crashed into a light pole. My mom never took me driving again."
12. "I was learning to drive in my grandparents' prune orchard in a car that couldn’t go under 25 MPH or it would shut off. I remember trying to steer, then literally running over a tree. It was a small tree, but still."
13. "In my state, we have to have three driving lessons with an instructor from a private company, in addition to practicing with our parents. The first lesson, it was my very first time driving — I hadn't even practiced with my parents yet. The instructor told me to drop off her previous student and go. No other instructions — just go. I did lot of things wrong, like pushing the gas while in park, etc. I literally had no clue what to do first besides adjust the seat and mirrors. She started calling me things like 'stupid,' 'idiot,' and 'dumb,' even in front of the other student. I'd never had an adult speak to me like that and she kept it going for the entire lesson. I'd brake too quickly and she'd pull her instructor brake after I got going to punish me. She'd get phone calls and answer them with, 'I'm being driven by a dummy. Let me call you back.'"
"I don't remember if I cried, but afterward, I sat there completely silent and in shock. I avoided getting another lesson for as long as I could. I even finished the required hours with my parents before I had to take another lesson. I asked for a different instructor the second time."
14. "I was VERY anxious about learning to drive but my parents were determined to give me the nudge to get me there. After I graduated from parking lot driving, my dad decided to have me drive on a local road. I drove about 15 MPH and was super anxious about it. Eventually, we reached a simple roundabout. I panicked and got the car stuck up on the curb by the stupid decorative center statue. I was freaking out and yelling, cars were backing up behind us, and my poor father had to make me get out of the car and change seats with him in front of all the trapped cars behind us. Not long after, a professional driving coach was hired to continue my education."
15. "During my behind-the-wheel driving test, the most movie-esque thing happened. A dog ran out in front of my car! I slammed on the brakes and the examiner and I flung forward in our seats. My brakes squealed so loud! Thankfully, my examiner was supercool about it and said, 'You did the right thing. I’m not taking off any points.'"
16. "My driver's ed course took place in my high school and was run by our principal. Our behind-the-wheel time consisted of two student drivers in the car who would switch at some point. The other student driver who was with me drove go-karts as a kid. When most people drive a go-kart, they SMASH the pedal to get it going and make really quick, sharp turns. Well, she thought that this method translated to a full-size car. When she got behind the wheel, she stomped on the throttle and proceeded to do a drag racing–style takeoff with the tires squealing. Thankfully, the instructor had a brake pedal on his side, but she still didn't let off the gas and we ended up doing a burnout on the street until she understood his pleading to let up off the pedal."
"She did learn how to moderate her throttle but she still did the quick, sharp go-kart turns. She ended being a great driver by the end."
17. "The very first time I drove after just getting my learner's permit, my stepdad had me drive on a major street. He wanted me to turn to go to a corner store and there was a misunderstanding about where to turn. He started yelling to turn and I took it too wide, causing him to start screaming, 'Brake! Brake!' which led to me panicking. I stomped on the first pedal I felt — which was the gas — and drove straight into a metal light pole. We walked away but the car definitely didn't."
18. "I was in the driver's ed car with the instructor and another student. The brakes started sticking and the whole car filled with a burning rubber smell. The instructor took over and dropped the other student off at her house, which was closer to our current location than the school. The instructor told me it was probably safest for me to walk home. I showed up on my doorstep an hour early smelling of burning rubber. My mother was horrified."
19. "I mixed up the gas and the brake my first time driving and smashed into my own house."
20. Finally: "This was back many eons ago. It was my very first time behind the wheel and my father was my teacher. We were driving the 1962 Chevy my dad had inherited from his father. (Old, not pretty. A good teaching car.) We started in a parking lot and after about an hour, my dad decided I was doing well so he wanted me to try driving out in the country on regular roads. I was a bundle of nerves but said OK. We headed out into the boonies and I started driving the back roads. I was doing the speed limit (about 30 MPH), when we came to an intersection. My dad asked, 'Do you want to turn right here?' My anxiety heard, 'Turn right here!' so I did, except I didn't slow down. In a panic, my dad stomped on my foot on the accelerator (he meant to hit the brake), grabbed the steering wheel, and turned it even further to the right. We drove over a mailbox (bent the metal pole it was on), through a garden, and right into a lilac bush (no damage to bush or car)."
Did you have any major mishaps while learning to drive? I know my experience was no walk in the park! Did you fail your driver's test? Did you have a terrible driving instructor? I want to hear all about it! Share your story in the comments below.
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.