Determining the number of driving lessons or hours needed for a student driver to successfully take their driver’s test is not a straightforward task. There are many factors that go into play when deciding if the driver is prepared and has learned not only proper technique but also the responsibilities that come with this privilege.
The Department of Motor Vehicles, sometimes called by a different name depending on the state, has made recommendations, while each individual state has different requirements. Arkansas does not require any lessons. Tennessee also does not require lessons but does require a student driver to log in a minimum of road time hours. Missouri, Wyoming, and Oklahoma have a specific amount of hours required, but drivers can be taught by a parent or legal guardian and the hours are to be submitted in good faith.
In contrast, Ohio requires a minimum of eight hours of on the road training through an institutionalized learning facility plus an additional 32 hours from any professional and ten from a parent or legal guardian. Some of the hours must be during nighttime situations.
Most states require additional driving time outside the class requirement. This is why professional instructions include what appears to be an excess of hours in their courses when in actuality they are helping student drivers to meet all the state requirements. In some cases, more lessons may be needed to meet those demands and different instructors can be hired at a lower rate. Checking with the DMV for the state’s regulations is a good idea before making a plan of action.
Also, don’t forget about the multiple-choice exam. Though it is sometimes called a test of theory, it must be passed before taking the practical test.
The Multiple-Choice Exam
Before even worrying about the on-road test, the multiple-choice exam must be taken first. States can also require classroom hours in addition to actual driving hours. In the classroom, students will learn the rules of the road, safety precautions, what to do in emergencies, and the meaning of road signs. A textbook filled with this information and diagrams of certain maneuvers like a turnabout or the correct time and place to do a u-turn will be provided. Though not as exciting as actually being behind the wheel, the information will help students get an idea of what to expect.
Passing the test has proven a challenge to some, but luckily it can be taken multiple times. If it fails normally a waiting period lasting at least 24 hours is required before the test can be taken again. States can also set a maximum number of times the test can be taken and failed. If the maximum is reached the student will be required to retake driver’s ed before attempting the test again. Consider the multiple-choice exam as equally important as the on-road test.
DMV Lessons and Hours Recommendations
The DMV encourages at least 40 hours of instructor lead road time and an additional 10 hours with a parent, guardian, or another eligible family member no matter what the state requirements are. An instructor’s lessons average two hours long which would mean that roughly 20-25 lessons total is ideal.
Just like learning new material in high school, some students excel immediately, while others need extra time to grasp the new concepts. This is another reason why putting a number on hours and lessons that will suffice is difficult. Instructors will gauge how the student has progressed and may suggest taking additional lessons to focus on areas that could use improvement.
Are the Lessons Beneficial?
Absolutely yes. They offer an opportunity for guidance while on the road that a book just can’t do alone. They will help new drivers learn how to handle an automobile and become confident and comfortable behind the wheel. Some insurances offer discounts for taking lessons and meeting certain conditions.
Other benefits of lessons include:
- Learn to handle various situations that can occur
- More likely to pass the exam the first time
- Less likely to be involved in accidents
- Know the laws and receive fewer citations
What will an Instructor Teach?
The instructor will always teach the basics plus more so a student is completely prepared for the test and what is to come after. Many will even gear the course to meet individual needs based on prior experience and knowledge. As the course moves on they will assess strengths and weaknesses to focus on.
Expect to learn the following:
- How to perform a safety/maintenance check
- How to adjust the car mirrors and use them properly
- How to focus on surroundings while maintaining control of the vehicle at the proper speed
- How to approach traffic signs/lights and how to handle them
- Maintaining a safe distance from other drivers and why it is important
- When and why turn signals should be used
- Parallel parking, a turn-about, u-turns (if legal in the state) and other maneuvers
- Driving in different weather conditions (if the opportunity presents itself)
- How to enter/exit the interstate and safely maneuver, including switching lanes
Other topics may also be covered and the instructor will answer any questions asked to assist in understanding why certain tactics are taken.
After completing the course and meeting all state requirements the multiple-choice exam can be taken almost immediately or within a few days. The wait time for taking the practical test can vary. Some states may require that a learning permit be issued for a period of time before taking the test. The DMV sometimes requires an appointment to be made at least 60 days ahead of time. If still in high school, academic requirements may also affect when the test can be taken.
Check with the state government or local DMV office for how long the wait time will be. Use this extra time to continue to practice and prepare for the real thing.