By ANDRE JONES
A driving instructor, Debbie Thomas, 45, arrived late to meet her student for a 45-minute driving lesson in Mill Basin with a depressed look on her face. She informed her student, Andre Fong Choy, 22, that four of her students failed their road test that morning. According to a survey done by the New York Daily News, the number of driving students in NYC who passed the road test declined to only 46% from 2005 to 2012. If over half of people who take the driving test fail, is it really their fault? How well are the driving instructors teaching them?
“I got my license, even though I basically taught myself,” said Abraham Francois, 21, a Flatbush resident. “I paid really for the car, five hour class, and to set up my road test.”
“My instructor wasn’t that great of a teacher,” said Francois.
Francois’s driving school has since closed down and changed into a new school on Remsen Ave in Canarsie, Brooklyn. The school is now called CEN driving school.
According to Department of Motor Vehicles (dmv.ny.gov), to become a driving school instructor you must meet the requirements in the “Commissioner’s Regulations Part 76.16”.
A few of the requirements that must be met are:
The instructor must be at least 21 years of age, must have a driver license valid for operation in New York State that:
- has been valid for at least 2 years preceding application in the class of vehicle that the instructor intends to teach in, and has not been suspended or revoked in the previous 2 years
- shows an acceptable driving record
- must pass the required tests, which include:
- a vision test
- road sign test
- written test
- must never have been convicted of a felony or of any crime involving violence, dishonesty, deceit, indecency, degeneracy or moral turpitude.
Nothing is said about proving they have the ability to teach.
Driving schools have their own requirements as well before their doors are allowed to open by the DMV. Driving schools must meet the requirements of the “Commissioner’s Regulations Part 76” and “Section 394 of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law”.
A few of the requirements for driving schools are:
- the driving school must have at least one certified driving instructor that has at least 1,000 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction experience.
- if the driving school offers the 5 Hour pre-licensing course, the school must have a DMV-approved classroom (either at the business location or off-site), and at least one certified driving school instructor that is approved to teach the Pre-Licensing Course.
- all vehicles used for driving instruction or testing must be reported to DMV using a “A List of Driving School Vehicles” form. Each vehicle must also be equipped with a “Student Driver” sign, and dual-control brake and rear-view mirrors for the instructor.
According to DMV.gov, if a driving school is approved after meeting the requirements, the DMV may conduct periodical inspections and audits to make sure they are following requirements.
“Once certified that’s it, the school is fine,” said a phone operator at Image Driving School in Canarsie, who declined to give their name. “We haven’t had any visits or checkups.”
Fuzion Driving School, on Church Avenue in Flatbush, does see DMV officials visit their office.
“We get an inspection once each year,” said Raquel, a phone operator at Fuzion Driving School. “Occasionally twice out the year.”
Students such as Francois, are being affected by these lack of frequent inspections. Instructors whether bad or good aren’t being revaluated often and students are continuing to take tests monthly.
Darren Gordan, 22, was student at Difference Auto School on Rodgers Avenue received his license.
“They were alright and taught okay,” said Gordan. “Half the time I couldn’t understand due to my instructor’s heavy accent.”
“But he made me drive on mostly empty streets and we only took main busy streets once in a while,” said Gordan. “I drove like an old lady”
Image Driving School, despite lack of inspection, receives great reviews from students.
“Abraham, was his name, and old Spanish dude,” said Stephen Blount, 22. “He was real strict and wanted to make sure I did things right.”
“He was always quick to press the breaks,” but his teaching helped Blount receive his license last June.
“I have two instructors, an older guy and another one named, Andre,” said Brian Embrack, 23, another student at Image. “They’re both good, but Andre gives you great instructions for every situation you’ll see on the road”
Embrack’s road test is set to take place next month, so it will be determined how well his instructors taught him.
Some may argue, failing may be a result of the student.
“Some students get nervous and let the pressure get to them,“ said Thomas, Image School driving instructor. “The student will drive well in lessons and feel confidence, but once the test starts they forget all the lessons they had.”
“They have to learn to overcome that, some people aren’t good test takers.” said Thomas.
The driving lessons may vary based upon on schools and instructors, but there are reviews online of each school. A student should carefully research a school to fine one that will serve them best. There could be more state oversight done for schools as well to help increase percentage of students passing their road tests. Success on a road test starts with good teaching.