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Learning to drive at 36

I feel almost ashamed to call myself an American. Not only do I not have an SUV or a greener than thou Prius, I also do not have a Driver’s License. I never got it in high school then moved to Boston where I convinced myself (mostly true) that I didn’t need it. Now I find myself wanting to be able to go everywhere the MBTA can’t go.

I don’t know how to go about learning to drive and subsequently buying a car. Is it best to go to a Driving School? Steal something from the neighborhood for a few hours in the middle of the night and pray?

Thanks for any suggestions!


I heartily recommend a driving school. Check your Yellow Pages. They employ professional drivers who can carry you through every phase of driving, including your eventual licensing exams. The alternative of asking friend or relative to teach you is a distant second choice. Your friend might not remain your friend very long!

Start by obtaining your learner’s permit from the appropriate state office. Then contact a driving school.

Buying (or weekend leasing) a car is a completely different animal. Check back with us when you have your new license.

It’s never too late! If you have a very good and patient friend or family member ask if you can have a few lessons. I taught my son to drive a standard shift in the parking lot of a large high school. We went after dark when no one was there. Then we progressed to a local cemetery, again late in the evening. My son had driven an automatic a few times with his father so we worked specifically on using a clutch. My point is that a large and deserted paved area feels very “safe” to a learner. If you don’t have such a friend or relative, a driving school is in order. You say you live in Boston and I was recently there for a few days. I am sure the congestion will be daunting at first, but don’t let that stop you. Once you have a license and insurance lined up I would suggest a small automatic so you feel confident about moving in and out of small spaces and parking spots. Again, if you have someone you trust with you as you shop for a car you will probably feel more confident. In most cases buying a car involves haggling over the price–something I absolutely hate to do. Take someone with you who enjoys bargaining. Good luck. I applaud you for being willing to learn as a adult. If I lived near you I would volunteer to be your teacher.

A Driving School makes the most sense. If you want to try a little first, with a friend or family, look for a large business or industrial park and practice driving on those roads on the weekend. And buy your friend a nice lunch afterwards.

You should use a driving school, but you will also need to practice outside the school before you take your test. The parking test is timed; you need to be prepared and confident to pass that part. You might consider buying a car to practice and take your test in unless you have a good friend that will lend you a car and their time for your practice runs. You will need a friend to accompany you when you practice anyway.

This reminds me of a friend who taught his parents how to drive. They had always lived near a trolley line and were able to get anywhere they needed for many years.

I taught my kids how to drive when they were teenagers. It was no picnic for any of us. I recommend a school with a professional driving instructor.

I had an aunt that didn’t learn to drive until she was in her mid-forties. Her husband didn’t want her to drive, but she insisted. He bought a used 1947 Studebaker Champion (this was about 1954) and she learned to drive this car. There was a football field behind their house that had a track surrounding the field. He would drive the Studebaker over to the field in the evening in the summertime and she would practice driving around the field. She became a very competent driver. Years later, she had a blowout on a rear tire at 70 mph on an Interstate while driving a 1964 Dodge Dart and managed to keep the car under control.

In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s there was a secretary in my department when I attended graduate school. This woman was in 40’s when she learned to drive–she had been widowed. She was a very competent driver and drove about 20,000 miles a year.

Do the driving school and you will do fine.

The driving school will teach you how to drive to pass the road test and how to park their model of car. High schools probably teach you for free in the evenings. Phone book is a good place to start. Schools are listed in Govt. section.

Independent driving schools will not be listed in the Government section. I doubt that the original poster can qualify for training at the local high school

Reminds me of the story about a genuine USAF fighter pilot stationed near Kansas City in the late '60s. IIRC, he was from NYC and never needed to learn to drive. It wasn’t a requirement for becoming a jet jockey. He and a friend went to KC where he bought a Jaguar XKE, brand new. His friend started teaching him to drive it as soon as they got outside the city. What a ride that must have been.

Friends may know how to drive, but they are not experienced teachers. Find an independent school and learn everything from an instructor who knows how to keep you from getting into bad habits.

Call a driving school. You will get discounts for completing course on insurance beyond quality instruction.

THANK YOU ALL!!! I am very grateful for your suggestions! I am going to let my fingers to some walking (or the mouse, now) and find a driving school. GULP!