Last minute edit- learning to drive is different everywhere- in Australia, apparently, they have to drive with a certain plate on their car for a certain amount of time! I would hate that! It's like...drawing attention to the fact that you just started driving. Embarrassing. So glad they don't do that here in the states. Also, if you want to see another post about experiences learning to drive, Woogsworld, an Australian blogger, posted about her (very different!) experience earlier today, which, technically, is tomorrow compared to Texas.
My sister has gotten her learners' permit. In October, she will be turning 16- the age they get their drivers' license around here. So far, I haven't had to share the road with her. I don't know if she drives well or not, and I don't want to find out yet. My dad's been the one taking on the brunt of the driving with her, being her instructor and all. Honestly? I don't want to know how she drives until she has the license. It looks like the permit but it's actually a license. Yea, that one.
In fact, he was my brother's driving instructor, and he was my driving instructor. I didn't start the process til I was 17. It's all hypothetical about why this is. Perhaps I was too busy doing activities during high school. I didn't think my parents really wanted to pay for drivers' ed. My dad says he wasn't certain he was legal to teach the parent-taught drivers' ed. Whatever the reason, I was very late learning to drive.
When I first started to drive, it was in an SUV. An SUV is nothing like a car. They're taller. Much taller. It was 2005, and I had a 1995 Pontiac Grand Am waiting for me, but its reliability was....little, at best. Its battery would die in the driveway after a few hours, and we had no idea why. We tried replacing parts, we would jump start and try driving it every once in a while, but we finally gave up on it. We were still car shopping for something better, knowing that I was going to the university soon and didn't want to drive a truck to school, considering mileage, but that I needed my own vehicle, but the SUV had to do for the time being, for practice.
Once we got everything set into place and I started practicing, I realized it wasn't as difficult as I thought. Sometimes I got a little overconfident, but usually, I took to everything pretty well (as I remember it). I
hated loved how every excursion included a driving lesson. "See how when I changed lanes back there, I checked my blind spot?" and such were common topics in the vehicle. I find them popping up again when listening to my dad teach my sister to drive.
Luckily, everything we've had in the family is automatic. Heaven forbid anyone bring a standard into the picture. It would be a death trap for all of us. One of the cars we looked at was at a Kia dealership- one of those too-good-to-be-true ads. It turned out to be a standard with nothing inside- no AC (in Texas, that's a sin), no radio, etc. We turned it down. We ended up finding a nice silver 1999 Taurus in very good condition, which I still drive to the day, and it's climbing toward the 150k mile mark (it was at 88k when we got it). Still runs pretty good, with the occasional problem.
The process of getting my license wasn't too bad. I read enough stuff to get the permit, which my sister has already done. However, our permits look significantly different because they have changed the background (the layout is the same, though). I still have my permit- tucked away in a drawer. From my permit, I had to do a certain number of driving hours under the supervision of an adult with a drivers' license in good standing, with no more than blah blah blah other passengers something or other. That stood for 6 months, at which point I was to take an exam. Well, for parent-taught driver's ed, since my parent was the teacher, he got to administer the exam, and we took the materials to the Department of Motor Vehicles, where they were very trusting, took our materials, took my picture, handed me a paper license, and told me to have a good day. Very quick! That was to be renewed every year until I was 18 (which wasn't long, since I was already almost 18 at the time).
Provisional licenses (permits) and under 21 licenses look identical, except one says "provisional license" and one says "Under 21 until mm/dd/yyyy" and the restrictions are a little different, but are just recognized by letters under "Rest" under the picture, almost invisible under all the other stuff they write on a license. I still have an under 21 license. I turn 24 this November (I had to check a calender. OMG). They last 6 years, I guess. There's the permit and the license, and that's it. Once you get a license they have a certain number of restrictions on you for like, 6 months, but since I was almost 18, they didn't apply to me for the full 6 months.
Just weeks after my drivers' license was issued, I started my courses at the university, and was driving 60 miles a day, every day, in my silver Taurus. I think I still had my paper license when I started even, but I don't remember precisely. A lot of stuff was going on, with work, just getting my braces off, school orientation, getting everything sorted for my first semester, getting my driving stuff sorted.
Now I'm watching my little sister go through the process (but she has to take a test at the DMV, the parents are no longer allowed to administer the test- they changed the law after my brother and I finished our licenses)....and I can't help but remember trying to figure out which way which blinker went, what P, R, N, D meant, turning on the windshield wipers, headlights,
and actually following the speed limit and all that fun stuff that now comes as second nature. Nostalgia.