Taking a driving test is one of the more nerve-wracking things to do as a teenager, but what's more nerve-wracking is probably the instructor's job! Not only are they supposed to teach their pupil to drive but they have to get them back in one piece. If its anyone who's seen some crazy motorists, its certainly the driving instructors in these stories.
Aw! Poor Baby Was Tuckered Out
“I’m a driving instructor Had a low confidence 16-year-old driver on the highway for the first time. Got her in the middle lane doing 65 mph when she states, ‘I think I’m gonna fall asleep.’ As my mind is processing what on earth she just said, her head goes clunk against the driver’s window, her eyes close shut, and she passes out. Her hands are still on the wheel but she turned to the left. Now we are in the left lane heading toward the median.
Her foot sent the pedal to the floor. I tried to get the car back onto the pavement and I had to switch hands because I needed to get her foot off the accelerator and get the steering back under control. I got the car back onto the roadway, under control and headed for the breakdown lane on the right side.
With my heart thumping, I got the car stopped. At this point, the driver sits up alertly, laughs, and goes ‘Haha! Wow! What did I miss?’
She had narcolepsy and she nor her parents ever told anyone. I was obligated to notify DMV, and her permit was revoked until she was certified by her doctor. Her parents were ticked off but I didn’t care. We both made it out alive because I got her off the road.”
This Instructor Was Crazy Unprofessional
“I have the opposite side of the story, one where the driving instructor was the crazy one. I grew up in a really small town (~1500 people) in Canada. As part of our driving instruction before we could go for our actual license, we had to do four types of driving (in town, on the highway, on gravel roads, in a city – I use quotes because the city in question has about 16,000 people, so not big). So I did my in town first and all went well other than the fact that I was 6’6” and had to cram into a tiny Honda Civic. Highway drive was about the same. Gravel drive was no problem because I had been driving on gravel roads since I was about 13.
Then came the city drive. I drove my parents to the city (about an hour from my house) and we had agreed to meet up with my instructor at a mall right near the outskirts of the city. I got into her car and we started driving. As we’re driving through downtown, I’m just going along at the speed limit, when she SLAMS on her brakes, gets a death grip on the steering wheel, and yells STOP!!! I’m just like ‘What the heck?’ and she says that I have to stop to let pedestrians cross. At the time, a) we were in the middle of the block with no pedestrian crosswalks to be seen, and b) the only pedestrian was a person walking down the sidewalk on my right, who had glanced across the street, which my instructor took to mean that she was wanting to cross the street. We sat and waited and the pedestrian just kept walking straight.
After that, and I mean literally right after that incident, my instructor says ‘Oh, I have to pick my kid up and take him to baseball practice.’ We started driving towards the mall and I thought we were just going to stop at the mall and be done with our drive. Nope. She gets me to turn just before the mall, drive to her house, pick up her kid, and drive him to baseball practice. When we pulled into her driveway, she said, ‘You don’t mind driving my kid to baseball do you?’ And I was like ‘Whatever, if you feel safe having your kid riding with somebody who is driving in the city for the first time ever and I get credit for the drive I need to do, then have at it.’
Then I got the all-clear to do my actual license (with a different instructor, thank god) and failed because I didn’t slow down enough for a railroad crossing even though you could literally see about a mile in either direction down the track and it was abundantly clear that a train wasn’t coming.”
Yeah, Definitely Don’t Do This
“Two instances that I remember when I was a student in a class.
We heard a guy failed his drive for the day BEFORE even getting in the car. How? Oh, he pulled up in his own car BY HIMSELF. He gets up, walks over to the instructor’s car.
Instructor: ‘Where are your parents?’
Student: ‘At home.’
Instructor: ‘Well give them a call, tell them to pick you up, because you already failed by driving here unsupervised without a license.’
In all seriousness, I’d never seen this guy before our first class, which I assumed was only for the students at our school. This guy looked like he was 25, but then again, everyone did when I was 15.
We heard a guy failed his drive for the day BEFORE even getting in the car. How? Oh, he pulled up in his own car BY HIMSELF. He gets up, walks over to the instructor’s car.
I just finished my turn driving (I always volunteered to drive first so I could take a nap, since our drives we’re usually scheduled after school) we stopped to get snacks and a pop, the other kid got a bag of sour gummy worms. This kid was relentlessly shoveling gummy worms in his mouth as if he hadn’t eaten in weeks. The instructor finally asked him to take a break and put both hands on the wheel. Apparently the kid took this request a little too seriously, and when we got to his first turn, he didn’t let go to do a hand-over-hand turn. Instead he continued to twist his arms into a knot as he turned. The instructor didn’t say much, which I didn’t blame him, because if he broke the kid’s concentration, we probably would’ve crashed on one of the busiest roads in our city.”
Guy Sounded Pretty Nervous
“I also teach semi-trucks.
On the side, I evaluate drivers for hire for a local company. The guy with 12 years experience, I gave him his PTI, and backing skills. All those were good.
The driving portion? First, turn out the gate he popped the curb. I asked if he was nervous. He said no, so we continue on.
First, turn on the road? Hits a light pole.”
Not His Fault But Still Devastatingly Sad
“Class A CDL instructor.
Not my drive, but another of our trucks was heading southbound. Student driving, instructor in the passenger seat. We are located in mostly the suburbs/inner city. Lots of traffic.
The student was in the left lane while a car heading northbound swerved into their lane. They hit a Ford Focus head-on. I arrived on the scene before the police (we were 5 minutes behind them) and found the guy in the Focus still in his car.
I’ll never forget how he looked. No injuries, just sad. And when I asked if he was okay and he simply said ‘I wish I wasn’t.’
He told officers he tried suicide by truck, and they took him to be evaluated by psychiatrists. The student and instructor were both fine but the student ended up dropping from the program.”
Ever Try To Drive With Night Vision Goggles?
“I was a driving instructor in the military a few years back. I had two people that come to mind for this. The second was a hot shot sergeant that had recently transferred to the unit and I had to certify that he knew how to drive with night vision goggles. This idiot decided to take the all-terrain trail at high speed until I told him that there were potholes ahead. He thought I was just saying it to get him to slow down since the night vision goggles make everything look flat and he couldn’t see them. Broke out axle hitting a foot deep pothole at ~70 mph. That was a fun phone call to my boss to come pick us up.”
At Least She Tried
“I did the drive exams for the state government for a few years here (US). My second week I had an elderly woman (about 80) scheduled for a test. She was a permanent resident from Nigeria and knew very little English. Just how little, I would soon find out.
We go through the starting instructions and the vehicle check, and eventually, get started. The first thing to do at my location was to pull out of the parking lot to the right on a fairly busy two-lane street. She did not stop to check for traffic, she just turned on out. Lots of angry honking ensued. Also, an immediate failure of the exam. There was a cul-de-sac on the right side about half a mile down the street that we could use to turn around that had a stoplight, so we did that. I had to physically point all the directions to her because of her limited English.
Instead of wrapping around the cul-de-sac to turn around, she did a three-point turn there. At this point, I was not surprised. If I was more experienced, I would have taken over and driven back at this point. Hindsight is a cruel mistress. We lucked into a green left-turn arrow and started our return to the branch.
Some of the more astute drivers may notice that we would need to turn left to get back to our starting point. There is no stoplight at this turn, but there is a nice turn lane dividing the two sides of the road. I point at the entrance to the parking lot and the following exchange occurs:
Me: ‘Left turn there.’
Me: ‘Yes, left.’
And she merges left into the turning lane and continues driving past our turn. No big deal, we will take the next turn and go across the parking lot of the nearby store. We have a very familiar exchange:
Me: ‘Left turn here, okay?’
Me: ‘Yes, please.’
And she merges left again. If you have a few wrinkles in your brain, you may realize that this puts us driving against oncoming traffic. A couple of cars swerve by as I grab the wheel and yank us back into the turn lane. I unbuckle my seat belt so I can reach my leg over to her side of the car and slam the brake to stop at the oncoming red light. This whole time, she says nothing.
We wrap back around into the parking lot (I’m still steering) and manage, somehow, to pull into a parking spot safely. I’m in the middle of questioning my life choices when she taps my shoulder and says three words that I will never forget:
‘I do good?’
No ma’am. No, you did not. But I couldn’t explain her mistakes in a way she understood, so she rescheduled her test 2 weeks away and the other drive examiner took her. It did not go well.”
“Not an instructor, but when I was in drivers ed there’s was a guy in his third year of the class, second semester. He was a senior, and this was a one-semester class, so his sixth time. We would be on the driving course, he would go into a different students zone, I was on the figure eight and he joined me going the wrong direction (I almost hit a different kid trying to avoid him hitting me), crashed a car through the fence at the end of the course and into the ditch in the field by the course, ended up going the wrong way on the freeway at 70 (no idea how there was a median barrier), and crashed a car into the auto shop at the school. No idea how he was allowed to take the class in the first place because he was apparently this bad every time he took the class. Also not sure how he survived his five previous times in the class…”
Dude Had To Potty
“I was the student, and I doubt I was this dude’s wildest lesson.
He spent the whole time ranting about his ex-wife and how he had to take low-paying jobs so that he would pay less in alimony and child support. Then we get to this park, he tells me to turn into it, and then to park the car. I’m a pretty new driver, so I am inching my way into a spot, trying to get it right even in the empty lot, but then he SLAMS on his instructor brake. He brings the car to a stop in the middle of four spots, blurts out, ‘I have to potty!’ and bolts out of the car into the park’s visitor center. I was absolutely flummoxed.”
Now Is Not The Time To Argue!
“Seven years ago I decided to get driving lessons for myself and my brother. We had the same instructor teach us both at the same time in the same car by taking turns driving for two hours a day. Sounds tedious but was good fun to learn together.
One day, the instructor got a call while teaching us and he told us that he had another student (a middle-aged lady) who had her driving test the next day and was panicking and wanted to urgently do a quick driving recap right away. The instructor wanted my brother and me to accompany him to this lady’s house and wait for 10-15 minutes while he took her for a spin in the car. We agreed and got to the lady’s house.
My brother and I are now in the backseat, the lady is driving with the instructor guiding her from the passenger seat. She starts driving from the front of her house, which is a quiet street. But we can see that this street goes ahead and intersects with a very busy road ahead. As we get closer to the intersection, the instructor tells her to stop.
The lady proceeds to ask if she should press the brake alone or press the brake along with the clutch. Meanwhile, the car is approaching the intersection. The instructor says ‘STOP, hit the brake’ and this lady proceeds to argue saying she’s confused about which type of brake she should use. Finally, the handbrake was pulled and the lady was strongly advised to postpone her test to say the least.”
Now That’s Embarrassing
“We were in the middle of a lesson when an instructor came in, whispered something to our teacher, grabbed a bucket and spray bottle, and left. Our teacher was nearly on the floor laughing. So naturally, we wanted to know. Turns out the instructor who came in just finished a drive and the student was too scared to ask to use the bathroom so he wet himself and the seat of the car. We were allowed to go see what he “left as a surprise” and the wet mark was about the size of a watermelon.”
“Not a driving instructor but I’m sure my driving instructor will remember our lesson where I hit a dog with the car forever. I was close to passing my test which was booked in for the following week, so it was supposed to be an easy lesson with mainly just revision. We were driving down the main road at 30 mph and I was feeling confident and safe when a dog ran across the road. I successfully did an emergency stop but it was too late, I had hit it. I was traumatized, the driving instructor was pretty traumatized, and the owner of the dog was devastated. I canceled my next lesson and my driving test, and seven years later I have still not got behind the wheel again.”
“Former instructor here. I was also the office manager for the driver’s ed. I mostly did office work but was certified to make extra cash on weekends and to fill in in an emergency.
My personal worst was a very sweet, very timid girl who was terrified to go anywhere near the speed limit if it were anything over 30. On back roads in the country that was terrifying.
The worst one I can think of nearly caused an accident while on his driver’s license test by just pulling out of the parking lot. That’s obviously an automatic fail. So the kid and instructor come back and then the dad comes storming in ticked off that his kid failed. He’s screaming at me and the instructor while the poor kid is sitting there head in hands obviously mortified by his dad’s behavior. I ended up threatening to call the police to finally get him to leave.
The absolute worst drive was after I left the company because I moved but it ended up in the news so I found out. A kid and an instructor were on a drive, great kid by all accounts. Another driver, a dude in his truck was distracted on his phone and hit the driver’s ed car. It wasn’t a terrible accident but because of his health complications, the instructor had he ended up dying later at the hospital. RIP Paul.”
Just An Overall Terrible Experience
“My instructor had a manual Jeep Wrangler and a BMW 3 series for his student cars. Of course, I was excited to drive both vehicles. I was partnered with a friend and my friend drove the beemer first. Welp, on the way back to the school there was black ice on the road and my friend was barely able to stop before hitting the car in front of us. The instructor sighed with relief and said, ‘Good job, you handled that stop really well. Black ice is dangerous.’ And then we got slammed from behind by a truck that couldn’t stop. I never was able to drive the BMW and my neck has never been the same.”
Okay! Well That’s One Way To Teach A Lesson!
“So… I’m not a terrible driver, I’ve never been in an accident where I was driving. I live in one of the most congested cities in N. America.
When I was learning to drive, I selected the winter option so I’d get experience driving in icy and snowy conditions. We’d been driving for maybe a week at 5 am every morning when a storm dropped 3-5 inches that morning. The local college has, what can only be described as a parking lot on top of a mesa. The driving instructor tells me to drive up to this empty parking lot and I’m thinking, cool we are going to practice some loss of traction scenarios or something. So we get there, he tells me to stop, and were facing towards the drop off probably 1000 yards away.
The instructor says I want to confirm that you’re going to follow my every direction from here out… I’m just thinking ‘What?’ but I agree. Right after I agree, he screams STEP ON IT!
I press the accelerator, but only enough to not break traction and he said, I SAID STEP ON IT! So I floor it, we immediately break traction, but I steer into it (mind you light poles are everywhere) and we keep accelerating towards this cliff, we’re about halfway across this parking lot and are going 50 mph. Now I’m scared and I ask should I start breaking now?
We are maybe 300 yards from a cliff doing 60+ mph in 5 inches of snow and I’m just like this freak is crazy! Just as I go to hit the breaks he yells again, HIT THE BRAKES!
So now I know plenty of you kids don’t know anything other than ABS systems, but at that time ABS was just coming out, so not wanting to break traction I start pumping the breaks (you know manual ABS) and he screams at me again that if I don’t want to die I’d better push the brakes to the floor.
Freaking ABS kicks in, and we come to a stop probably 25 feet from the cliff edge, but it feels like 10 inches.
He turns to me and the other two students in the car and says, ‘And that is why you get ABS in your car’ and we continue on with the rest of the lesson.”
“I Gave My Trainer A Heart Attack”
“I gave my CDL driver-trainer a heart attack.
I was in the second week of a full-time class, which was one-on-one after the other potential trainee was kicked out (the training was being funded by my employer at the time). We were doing road exercises at this point, where we would leave the plant, and my trainer would just give me random instructions.
‘Turn left at X road…turn right up here…change lanes after we pass the bowling alley,’ sort of thing.
One morning, he was really late–we were supposed to get started at 6 am but he didn’t show up to the plant until 6:45. When he did show up, he wasn’t looking so great, but we hopped in the cab and got underway after a pre-trip inspection anyway. Not long into the drive, he told me to park at the upcoming gas station, which was odd because it wasn’t a diesel station. Then he told me to stay in the cab, while he went inside.
I was waiting. And waiting. And waiting a little more. This was valuable practice for being a truck driver, btw.
Then the plant manager (who was also sort of a regional manager) showed up, which was weird, and asked how things were going. Which was weirder, because he was so far above me I couldn’t have guessed what it mattered to him, but we talked about my training a little bit. Then an ambulance showed up. And then the plant manager told me that my instructor thought he was having a heart attack, which is why I was parked in a non-truck gas station. And also, that to get the truck back to the plant, the plant manager was going to be my temporary instructor. I was nervous as heck and worried about my regular instructor, who was in the hospital at this point. But when we made it back to the plant the manager was like, ‘Well you’re actually good at this, I’m pretty confident Bill’s not having a coronary because of you, specifically.’
It was still the morning so I went back to my home plant since I didn’t want to just leave for the day but there wasn’t anything I could do workwise at the training facility. As soon as I walked in, people were dropping to their knees, kneeling over desks, knocking into walls pretending to have heart attacks left and right. My supervisors, the office ladies, some other random driver who was checking in early…I never ever lived that one down.”