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  1. #1
    Frank
    Administrator nordwulf's Avatar
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    previous: 2006 9-3, 2001-06 9-5, 2011 9-4X
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    How, when and where did you learn to drive?

    This was one of the most important events in my life when I took my first driving lessons. Yeah, I think it ranks higher than a wedding day.. It will be interesting to hear from others in different parts of the world what driver's training is like.

    In the Netherlands, you are allowed to start driving when you're 18. I think my first driving lesson was scheduled a few days after my 18th birthday. Drivers education is mostly done by private individuals and it can take quite some time to get the necessary training and hours before you can take the final driving exam. It also can be pretty expensive as well.

    All drivers training is done in manual transmission cars only. Public transportation is very good in this country and, together with the size and short distances between towns and cities and the extensive use of bicycles, you don't need a car to travel anywhere. So having a car and drivers license is a luxury and not a necessity. And in many cities, having a car is a liability so it is not uncommon not to have a drivers license or get one at an early age.

    All my drivers education was done in an Opel Kadett and started in March 1985. I can still remember my first driving lesson and and some of the roads we drove. The first hour was very confusing because you had to learn how use the transmission and clutch, try to keep the car in the middle of the road and pay attention to signs, cars and everything else on the road. But what an exciting event.

    This wasn't actually my first time behind the wheel as my dad sometimes let me drive for short distances in his car before I was 18.

    I failed my first drivers exam. It is not uncommon having to do it multiple times, often with more training in between. The reason I failed... I was too slow and cautious! Fortunately, I passed the second time and was looking to buy a car shortly after that.

    The Kadett I learned to drive in was very similar to this.


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  2. #2
    Mike
    Moderator Shazam's Avatar
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    In the US it's very different. I got my permit on my 16th birthday. In New York you can get your learners permit when you are 16, and you have to have that for 6 months before you can get your license. To get the permit you merely show up to the DMV and take a multiple choice test. It was 20 questions, and you have to get 17 right to pass. They are easy questions about when you have to use a turn signal or who has the right away. I got 19 out of 20. I missed a question that went something like "When backing out of your drive way, you should always do this first:". With a learners permit, you can only drive when someone who is over 21 (or related) and has had a license for over a year is in the car with you. My mom drove me to the DMV, I drove out. It was 2003 Chevy Suburban, and it was the middle of January and we had plenty of snow.

    That's all it took to get out on the road. I was very nervous, but I had been doing things like backing cars down our driveway, or putting them in the street for the past two or three years, so I knew some things. This is when you learn to drive basically. All you do is get your parents to either be willing to go for a ride, or need somewhere to go, and you do the driving well they teach you what they know.

    Another thing is, if you can get 20 hours of practice within that 6 months, you can take your road test early to get your junior license. With a junior license you can drive to and from school, the doctors, work, or to pick up younger siblings from any of those. Also, with a junior license you can only have siblings in the car, or one other person that isn't related under 21. That's what I did, so then I was able to drive to school and to my job.

    Your drivers test was pretty simple (I thought). You have to get a appointment at the DMV, and you show up in your car for your test. A person from the DMV gets in your car with a clipboard (and at the time one of those early PalmPilots). They tell you when to turn a block or two in advanced, and you go on a route. You have to make a K-turn and parallel park. You can lose up to like 35 points on the test, but messing up on the K-turn or parallel park is an automatic fail. I lost 10 points because the lady told me to turn after I was already stopped at a stoplight in a "straight only" lane, so I did an illegal maneuver to get into the turning lane. I passed that, so I got my junior license.

    To get your full license you also have to take a 5 hour course. You just go sit in a room for 5 hours and watch old road safety films, and then take some easy test at the end. So I took that, and like everyone else, I passed.

    Then, once six months came after I got my learners permit, my real license showed up in the mail. And that was that. It should be said that out of all the people I know, 95% of them pass with out a single problem. All the tests are extremely easy, and you have to be a HORRIBLE driver to not pass the actual driving part.

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  3. #3
    Jay
    Saab Addict Hirsch's Avatar
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    Like many kids that grew up in rural America, I learned how to drive farm equipment first. At age 12 I was driving our 1942 Willys Jeep. No power steering, no power brakes(and the brakes only worked on one wheel, the right front, and they had to be pumped a few times before they'd grab), and a 3 speed manual with no synchronizers. It had the original 4cyl Willys flat head engine. When dad decided that I had mastered the Jeep, I was allowed to try my hand at the cars.

    At age 14 one of my chores was to fill my moms Honda up with gas every night. We kept a 500 gallon tank of unleaded fuel near the barn, so I got to drive down he driveway, fill the car up with gas, drive down to the road, turn around and go back to the house. About a 1/4 mile in all!

    When I was 15(a month before I turned 16) my brother was working as a sound man for a cheesy bar band called Sassy. After Christmas he needed to go to Nashville to hook up with the rest of the band. My brother convinced our dad that one our mutual friends could drive the car back and I'd go with them. What he didn't tell my dad is that friend was the same age as me! We dropped my brother off in Nashville and headed for home. Scott, my friend, did the first half of the drive, through a huge storm.(this storm plays into the story later). I did the second half. Two unlicensed 15 year olds driving through 3 states.

    I slept at Scotts that night and the next day we drove my brothers car to school. Scott was going to drive it my house and have my dad drive him home. Unfortunately mother nature had other plans. Remember that storm in Tennessee and southern KY? It hit us right after school started, but it was about 33F so it dumped 6 inches of snow on us before they cancelled school at noon. Scott didn't want to drive my brothers car home in the snow, my dad told me to drive it home! 15 years and 11 months old, driving my brothers newish 85 Chevy Cavalier through a snow storm!

    My school offered a drivers ed class, but it was more a formality for a lot of us. We wanted the good grade and the waiver from the teacher so we didn't have to take the states driving test. I got my license on Feb. 18th 1987. 1 month and 1 day after my 16th birthday, per Indiana law.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Wulfers View Post
    Note to new members: choose your user name carefully because it will stick with you for the rest of your forum life.

  4. #4
    Saab Addict SaabKen's Avatar
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    Sorry Dave, but those "L" drivers really are losers. Eh !

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  5. #5
    Saab Enthusiast
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    I learned in a combination of VW Beetles converted to airport ground car use at a sailplane school, in my Dad's Datsun 240Z, in Dad's '74 99 LE, that I later bought from him, and in my Mom's '78 Oldsmobile Cutlass stationwagon (BLEH!). All within about 10 miles of where I live now, Jeffersonton, Virginia.

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  6. #6
    Sean Hughes
    Saab Fan mySaab900's Avatar
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    Like most kids in America, well all kids for that matter, I took drivers ed at age 15 in Maine. (about 1 1/2 years ago) I took a 1 month class in July of 2010 and was the only one in the class who got 100% on the final test. I drove on my permit for 11 months until next June (although I turned 16 on May 9th, 2011 I wasn't able to get into the license test until June 7th) when I took my test the first week in June. I passed first time, and the examiner said I did very well at everything. I got my license that day and drove to work that afternoon. As of yet (7 months on my license) I have not gotten a ticket nor do I plan to. Haha! I plan to go to a 2 day motorcycle safety class in May sometime to get my motorcycle license as I have an '81 Honda c70 Passport (which is ridiculous that ME makes you have a motorcycle license for anything over 50cc).

    I learned to drive on my dad's '96 Jeep Cherokee when I was about 14. (which is also where I learned to drive stick!) I had an '07 Toyota Camry for my drivers ed car. What about you guys?

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    -Sean Hughes
    ------------------------------------------------
    - '91 Saab c900 N/A base model

  7. #7
    Saab Addict SaabKen's Avatar
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    2006 9-3 2.0T SportCombi "Mattie"; On SAABatical: 1993 9000 CSE 2.3T "Matilda"
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    Got my learner's license in 1984, then my full license in '85. Dad taught me how to drive. Drove their 1977 Chevy Nova, just like this one but without the bling-bling hubcaps:



    4-on-a-tree shifter. Hi/Lo-beam switch was a round button that you stepped on at the far left corner of the driver's footwell. A/C could easily service a meatlocker.

    I recall the rocker panel plate said: "Body by Fisher"

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    "Nulla tenaci invia est via"
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  8. #8
    Ian Scott
    1 |0v3 |>@|\|(@|<35 drwatson32's Avatar
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    Current: 88 900t, 89 9000t autobox, 05 9-5 Arc wagon Past: 87 9000T, 91+85 900S, 84 900 8vt sedan,
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    Got my permit in suburban/rural Ohio @ 15.5, learned in my '64 Studebaker, license about a year later. (No, I'm actually not a geezer circa 2004-2005)

    That thing made me late for school so many times. Whether it would start in the morning was a game of chance. I used to be really into Studebakers, they're quirky like Saabs, but, in the case of the mid 60's cars, the build quality was shoddy. Thinking my dad's SPG was slicker than snot on a doorknob, I ended up buying my 85 Saab to impress a girl for senior prom LOL And so it began...

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  9. #9
    Masterfully Slow Learner SPGreg's Avatar
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    I learned in driver's ed in high school in Northern California & was also taught separately by my safety-conscious father. The classroom had numerous CHP (California Highway Patrol) magazines full of pictures of awful crash scenes, dead bodies, etc. My dad yelled when I made a mistake. There was really very little chance I would be an unsafe driver.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave T View Post
    Being a nerd, I want a green magnetic N sticker to use when I drive in the Best Place on Earth.
    Dave, I've probably got a few of these lying around from my own kids; I'll gladly hang onto one for you if you'd like! (So you can be nerdy in the Best Place on Earth! )

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    Last edited by SPGreg; 22 January 2012 at 18:37.

  10. #10
    Renato Piereck
    Spreading the Saab virus rpiereck's Avatar
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    I learned to drive in Brazil, and it was very different from what they do in the States, or Europe.

    My family at that time was a Fiat family. Yes, there are such things. Fiat sells a lot in Brazil and their cars are everywhere. My family was neither rich nor poor, but we were upper middle class and my grandpa had a large home up in the mountains one hour from Rio de Janeiro. In the hot summer weekends the entire family would drive up the hill and spend the weekend in Petropolis, a German immigrant town. In those weekends you could count 5 to 7 Fiats on the drive way.

    My mom's Fiat was the cheapest and most bare bones, a 1985 Fiat 147S. It had power nothing: no power brakes, no power windows, no power steering, etc. You get the picture, it was pretty bare bones, even the seats were vinyl, not even cloth! The one option the car had was a five speed transmission, which my mom wanted because of the drive on the highway to Petropolis. The little Fiat was powered by a 1.3 engine with a single Solex carburetor. It didn't have much power because it didn't need it: it was a very light car. Brazil is pretty much like Europe, where 90% of cars have manual transmission, back then automatics were for lazy people or for rich people who don't drive themselves. I had never seen an automatic car in Brazil.

    In 1989, when I was 14, I started getting lessons from my mom in Petropolis. Traffic in the small city was light and there were plenty of smaller roads filled with summer homes that had next to no traffic. The women in my family have always been very good drivers despite the generalization that women can't drive, and my mom was my teacher. I had a few tough lessons on how to get moving in first gear, but soon enough I was going in first and second gear. Synchronizing the gear changes was a struggle, but that Fiat was beat up at 4 years old and the transmission was very long on its legs. That made the lesson even harder, but I soon got the gist of it.

    In Brazil you don't get your license until you are eighteen years old, but I was driving off an on with my mom in and around Petropolis from 14 until I was old enough to get a license. She'd let me drive on those weekend when the town wasn't full with people, which happened more during the winter than during the summer.

    By the time I was eighteen my mom had traded her old 147 for a Fiat Elba. This was a huge improvement. The Elba was a station wagon based on the Fiat Uno, and had a cavernous cargo compartment thanks to Fiat's practice of putting the spare tire in the engine compartment. The Elba was luxurious compared to the old 147: power windows, power locks, power steering and power brakes. Cloth seats!!! It also had a 1.6 engine with a dual stage Weber carburetor. It was stick shift, of course. The Elba was a rocket compared to the 147. It was now the time for me to take my license test.

    The problem was, at that time Brazil was revamping their licensing procedures and there was mass confusion at the licensing department. There was now a mandatory classroom, but there were discrepancies on how long the class had to be. Some sources quoted a 2 hour class, some quoted a 4 day class. My mom decided to err on the side of caution and sent me to the 4 day class. The classroom was all about driving: we learned the basic mechanics of a car, a rudimentary class on how a manual transmission worked, about tires, driving in the rain, one day was spent on traffic signs, etc. The fourth day we had driving practice... the driving practice required us to drive in traffic in Rio de Janeiro. Until now I had driven in a sleepy little country town, now I was required to drive in the second biggest city of our country, on the dizzying traffic full of buses and taxis.It was scary to just think of that, but then the driving school car made it even more challenging: their car was a Volkswagen Gol, with dual controls for the driver and the instructor. This was the first time I was driving anything other than a Fiat and it was challenging. Going from the 147 to the Elba was no big deal, because despite all the power stuff and the larger engine the Elba still felt like a Fiat. The clutch felt the same, the gear throw was the same, the gear ratios had the same spacing, the power band felt the same. I never took that into consideration until I had to drive a VW. Everything was different, I almost had to relearn how to shift, and I was suddenly thrust into traffic.

    The first ten minutes were horrible as we were in a very busy street and I was sure I was going to get run over by a bus, but somehow I survived. Soon we were out of the heavy traffic and in a residential zone. There were three students and the instructor at the wheels, each student would have to do the same things I did. There were the usual requirements of using a turn signal to signal turns (no one does that in Brazil), performing full stops at stop signs (again...), etc. One thing that was different was that we had to go to a very steep road and parallel park the car. ON A HILL!! Fortunately I had done that in Petropolis and I aced it this time, I even turned the steering wheel the right wy when I turned off the engine. Then I had to restart the engine and drive up hill from a standstill without stalling. I did it fine and the instructor was impressed, the other two students in the car stalled it.

    After all was said and done and I had my instruction we though it would be just a matter of going to the DETRAN-RJ (the Rio de Janeiro Department of Transportation) and get my license, but then that same week a big scandal broke out. The DETRAN-RJ had been illegally licensing people and they stopped licensing new drivers for the time being until they figure out their mess. Such was life in a developing third world country... We had no clue when I would be able to have my license, so my mom, always the improviser, decided to send me to São Paulo. The DETRAN-SP wasn't going through the same problems as the one in Rio, so I went to my aunt's home for a week to get my license. In São Paulo I needed just an easy test drive that required no parallel parking on a hill (we did it on a level parking lot), and within two days I had my license.

    Even without the bureaucratic mess ups that forced me to go 250 miles away to get my license, my Brazilian license was the one that was the hardest to earn. I have been licensed in four states in the USA (FL, CA, UT and AK, always a joke to get licensed in the US), in South Korea, and now in Germany, and neither of them compares to being licensed in Brazil. And to this day I still have dreams of driving Fiats!

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