According to a recent study at the University of Michigan, 16 to 44-year-olds who have a driver’s license have seen a 16.4% decrease since the early 1980s.
This may be because requirements to get a license have generally gotten stricter over time. There are several steps necessary to obtain a license, especially for Virginia drivers. One of them is in-car driving instruction or Behind-the-Wheel.
All the requirements for a driver’s license can get confusing, but it’s simpler than it looks. Behind-the-Wheel is a requirement for some people, while for others, it’s a shortcut to getting a license faster. Either way, it’s an excellent opportunity to improve your driving skills before you get your license.
Read on to learn if Behind-the-Wheel is a requirement for you, and what to expect from a Behind-the-Wheel program.
What Is Behind-the-Wheel?
Behind-the-Wheel in Virginia refers to the in-car portion of driver training, as opposed to the in-class or online portions. The Behind-the-Wheel requirements in Virginia consist of fourteen 50-minute sessions, broken down as follows:
- seven 50-minute driving practice sessions
- seven 50-minute sessions observing another student driver
During the driving practice sessions, the student drives while the instructor supervises, giving any necessary instruction, pointers, or precautions. In the observation sessions, the student sits in the backseat to observe, while another student drives.
Is Behind-the-Wheel Required in Virginia?
There are two cases in which Behind-the-Wheel is required to get a Virginia driver’s license.
1. You’re under 18.
To get a Virginia driver’s license as a minor, you have to hold your learner’s permit for nine months and complete a state-approved driver training. In addition to the fourteen sessions of Behind-the-Wheel, Virginia driver training requires 30 hours of classroom instruction. However, most teens complete the 30 classroom hours in a mandatory high school course. Behind-the-Wheel is usually the last step in the process of getting a license for Virginia teens.
2. You’re over 18, but you want your license fast.
If you’re over 18, Behind-the-Wheel isn’t required, but it can serve as a shortcut to get your license quicker.
There are two paths to getting a driver’s license as an adult. You can either hold a learner’s permit for 60 days before taking the DMV road test. Or, you can get your license immediately by completing a state-approved driver training program for adults. This includes 30 hours of in-class or online instruction, as well as Behind-the-Wheel.
In other words, if you want your license without having to wait 60 days or take the DMV road test, taking Behind-the-Wheel will speed up the process.
Everything You Need to Know About Behind-the-Wheel
You may still be wondering what exactly goes on in a Behind-the-Wheel course, and if it’s the right option for you. Here’s some helpful info.
What Do You Do in Behind-the-Wheel?
Behind-the-Wheel courses will assess your current driving skill level and challenge you to improve on more unfamiliar skills until you’re ready for your license. These might include driving on bigger roads, making sharp turns, changing lanes, making U-turns, and parking. You’ll also receive coaching on skills like reading signage, using right-of-way, and properly checking your mirrors.
How Long Are Behind-the-Wheel Lessons?
Behind-the-Wheel Training in Virginia requires fourteen 50-minute sessions: seven driving sessions and seven observation sessions. Typically, driving and observation sessions are conducted back-to-back with two students in the car who switch places at the 50-minute mark. This way, there are seven appointments total, each lasting about one hour and 40 minutes. However, the best driving schools will work with your schedule if you’d like to distribute the time differently.
How Long Does Behind-the-Wheel Take to Complete?
The time it takes to complete all your sessions depends on your availability and that of the instructor. Some programs are more flexible than others, so if you have a tight schedule, be sure your driving school can work with you.
Colonial Driving School offers Behind-the-Wheel driving lessons for adults during both days and evenings. We have instructors available on weekends as well, so you don’t have to mess with your work schedule.
Is Behind-the-Wheel Safe?
Private Behind-the-Wheel in Virginia is overseen and approved by the Virginia DMV. As long as you verify that a DMV-licensed driver training school offers your program, it’s safe.
The idea of being coached while driving may sound stressful to student drivers at first. But, you won’t have to learn and drive all at once. This is why the observation portion of Behind-the-Wheel is especially helpful, as it allows students to retain instruction before they’re under pressure at the steering wheel. This also makes the experience much safer.
Many Behind-the-Wheel vehicles have special safety features as well. A driver training brake and gas pedal are sometimes installed on the passenger side where the instructor sits, so they can speed up or slow down the car if necessary.
What About Parallel Parking?
Your driving school may or may not teach you how to parallel park. On the checklist form required to take the Virginia driving test, parallel parking is not listed. If it’s important for you to learn to parallel park, let your instructor know.
Choosing the Best Driving School
To find the best driving school, you’ll want to look for experienced companies to ensure your safety and the best possible learning experience. You might look for how long the company has been in business, their testimonials, and how many services they offer to determine their expertise.
You may also look for a school with a broad availability, so you can be sure to schedule Behind-the-Wheel sessions when it’s most convenient for you.
Private Behind-the-Wheel in VA
When looking for private Behind-the-Wheel in Virginia, be sure you’re clear on what you need for your license. Many driving schools offer programs for both teens and adults whose needs tend to differ based on Virginia’s requirements. Driving schools should be able to help you determine your needs if you’re still unsure.
Most importantly, be sure to do your research to make sure you’ll receive quality instruction suited for you. Learning to drive can feel intimidating at first, so you’ll want to be as comfortable as possible in every other aspect.
At Colonial Driving School, we’re committed to teaching driver’s safety with enthusiasm. Our school has been operating since 1980 and was founded by a retired police officer. Our flexible hours make scheduling easy so that you can get your license quickly and confidently. Our instructors are equipped to work with those of all ages, experience levels, and educational needs.
If you’re looking for driving lessons near Richmond, contact us.