Learning to drive an automobile in the modern age can be intimidating, especially when you live in the busy metropolitan area of Pinellas County! We’re here to help ease the transition from “nervous beginning driver” to “confident experienced driver.” At Pinellas Driving School, we believe that it all starts with the basics.
A lot of folks who teach driving, whether they be your Uncle Ernie, dear old Grandad, your Mom, or sometimes even a professional driving school — they have the tendency to push a new driver out into the world before they are ready. “Here are the keys, that’s the steering wheel, gas is on the right, brake is on the left, let’s go drive across town!” In addition to being potentially very dangerous, it’s completely overwhelming to the student, and it’s a sort of backwards approach.
Sure, the sink-or-swim method can work… eventually (if you don’t end up with a crashed car, or a mentally traumatized student first). Unfortunately, you end up with drivers who know how to navigate city traffic (sort of), but still have no idea what their car can and can’t do. How big is the car? How quickly can it stop? How quickly can it turn to avoid something? How quickly can it NOT stop? What happens if I try to turn too sharply too fast, or try to pull a lane change too fast at 60 mph? These are things that a LOT of people learn “by accident,” and this is why your auto insurance rates for the first 5-10 years of driving are so expensive! Pinellas Driving School is here to help you avoid those pitfalls.
Learn to Drive with Confidence
The Pinellas Driving School approach is to spend the time necessary to ensure that the student is fully comfortable with the car before getting them out into traffic. We try to build confidence with skills such as negotiating turns, smooth acceleration and braking, smooth and confident quick stops, emergency stops, and looking far enough ahead to avoid most of the surprises on the road. Once a driver has mastered those things, then when they get out into traffic, they’re no longer thinking about “the car,” and they can more easily focus on “the traffic.” As a result, we find that students who have completed our driving school course become safer and more confident more quickly than just dumping them into traffic and hoping that they figure everything out while every other driver on the road is trying to kill them!
Pinellas Driving School is a Florida state certified driving school, and we employ driving instructors who are both Florida state certified and trained to teach to our strict standards. But we’re not just teachers, we are driving enthusiasts! We appreciate the privilege of driving a car, and everything that entails. We want to share our enthusiasm for driving PROPERLY with a new generation, and that is why we do this. As a result, we’re teaching more than just the bare minimum of “how to drive a car” or “how to pass your license test.” We teach our students how to be safe, confident and courteous drivers at their core.
If you have questions about anything, feel free to Contact Us by phone or email.
We presently have four instructors. Steve and Loren are the owners of the school. Each of our instructors constantly share their teaching experiences with each other and strive to provide the best learning experience for each student, regardless of their driving history, their skill level, or their background.
Loren’s passion for driving dates back to his youth. Like many teen drivers, he made his share of expensive mistakes, and learned from them. One of his goals is to thoroughly teach new drivers so that they can AVOID such mistakes! He understands the physics and psychology of driving, and tries to teach on a deeper level. The more you understand what the car is doing and how your brain relates to what the car is doing, the better you’ll be at driving!
He has been teaching driving since the late 1990’s, and has been a Florida State Certified Driving Instructor off and on since 2006 and has taught behind-the-wheel driving for two of the major driving schools in the area. Most recently, he’s been teaching driving consistently since 2015 and started Pinellas Driving School with Steve Frank in 2017.
Loren’s history includes 8 years of military service, a degree in electronics, years of work in the electronics and information industries, and even a little work in commercial graphics and website design. Hobbies are primarily amateur motorsports and tinkering with cars and computers.
He is married with an adult son, and shares his home with his wife, three cats… and three cars.
Steve also has a great passion for driving dating back to his teen years. As a 30+ year resident of the Tampa Bay area, he really knows his way around and is familiar with the rich history of Pinellas County.
He started teaching people about driving in the mid 2000’s, and became a State Certified Driving Instructor when he and Loren Williams started Pinellas Driving School in 2017. Having absorbed some of Loren’s driving instruction wisdom in addition to his own experience, he has become an outsanding driving instructor!
He brings with him a strong background in psychology, with over 20 years as a psychologist specializing in helping folks recover from brain injury. This is part of what makes him extremely compassionate of not just his students, but other drivers on the road. He’s good at teaching his students that “it’s not all about you.”
Steve shares Loren’s hobbies of amateur motorsports and sports cars. In fact, it is how the two of them met, and they also share ownership in a motorsports club!
At home, Steve also keeps plenty busy raising two teenage girls.
Derek has been an educator since 1996, including 16 years teaching driver’s ed at Leto High School in Hillsborough County, FL. He currently teaches for Florida Virtual School, and works for us part time simply because he ENJOYS teaching behind-the-wheel driving, and he’s very good at it!
In his years of high school teaching, Derek was also a coach for most any sport you can imagine. He still coaches and participates in sports in his spare time.
He lives with is wife in Temple Terrace, FL, and they have two children.
Jim comes to us with over 30 years of experience as a public school teacher in Michigan. He taught physical education, health, and driver’s education. He was also very active coaching a variety of sports, including high school football.
Jim currently lives with his wife in Treasure Island, FL. They have two adult sons, and 2 grand-daughters.
In his spare time, he is an avid bicycler and motorcyclist, and enjoys watching sports, especially football.
Jim has retired as a school teacher, but missed both teaching and coaching. This job is perfect for him, and we’re glad to have him!
The Pinellas Driving School approach to driver education is a personal and practical one. Our in car lessons emphasize driver confidence and safety. We start by evaluating the actual skills and abilities of the student in the car with them driving. Students who have never started a car before, much less driven one, are going to need a far more basic approach than other students who may been looking to fine-tune their skills before taking the road test for their license. A student who is already licensed and may be looking to enhance confidence or general skills will require yet another approach. No matter what, we’ll adjust the flavor of our in car lessons to match students’ experience and goals.
So, if we’re teaching an in car lesson with a student who is a new driver, we’ll spend the time necessary to ensure that the student is fully comfortable with the car before getting them driving. Proper seat and steering wheel adjustment, hand placement, and mirror adjustment might be our starting points. For a more experienced student, we may try to build confidence with skills such as negotiating turns, smooth acceleration and braking, smooth and sure quick stops, emergency stops, lane management, and looking far enough ahead to avoid most of the surprises on the road. The only way to learn these things is with in car lessons, behind the wheel, with an experienced and patient instructor.
No matter what level of skill, we try to explain the “why” behind the instructions that we provide during our in car lessons. Whether the reason is rooted in physics, in the mechanical capability of the car, in state driving laws, or in common courtesy, we believe that it is important to understand why. We’ve found that when students understand why they are doing something, they are likely to remember more of that information. We try to make our directions and the explanations simple and understandable, and if students don’t understand, we explain it another way, we demonstrate it, we practice it… it’s worth the time that it takes at every step in the process!
As a result, we find that students who have completed a course of in car lessons with us become safer and more confident more quickly. Teach a driver thoroughly from the beginning, you get a better driver!
What we DO:
Our services are simple, we offer driving lessons! We primarily do in-car behind-the-wheel driving instruction in the St. Petersburg and Clearwater area. You can purchase a package of lessons, or just do individual lessons, you decide how many lessons you want your driving course to include!
We mostly teach beginning drivers (of any age). But, we’re happy to offer refresher lessons to experienced drivers, or to anyone who wants to improve or expand their driving skill set. We teach everything from beginning to advanced, parking lots to interstates, and everything in-between!
If you’ve been in a car crash (whether you were at fault or not), we can help you understand what went wrong, and what actions you might take in the future to help prevent future crashes. Related to that, we are authorized by the State of Florida to provide the 4-hour Behind-The-Wheel Driving Instruction required for drivers who have been convicted of three crashes in three years. See our Crash Course page for more info.
What we DO NOT do:
- We don’t administer the Road Test (or any other tests) for you to obtain a driver’s license (see our FAQ)
- We don’t take you to the DMV for your Road Test, or allow you to test in our car
- We don’t offer any of the following for moving violations you may have received:
- ticket classes
- court-ordered driver improvement training
- court-ordered defensive driving classes
- however, we can do Behind-The-Wheel training for a 3-in-3 driver
The important thing
is for you to rationally decide how many lessons to take. DON’T expect a beginning driver to be a safe and confident driver with just 4, or 8 or 12 (or even 20) driving lessons. The state of Florida requires a beginning teen driver to have completed a minimum (MINIMUM) of 50 hours of supervised driving practice before getting their driver’s license. And at least 10 of those hours must be at night. These are minimums, we strongly advocate MORE practice than this. Get out and drive!
Read our recommendations on How Many Lessons to take.
We can teach more
outside of our typical curriculum of urban street driving in a typical car with an automatic transmission, we are also available to teach other things. Let us know what you want to learn, if it’s related to cars, we can probably teach it!
We try to keep things as simple as we can. But, it still gets a little complex. We’ve done our best to explain and answer most of your questions below.
Important Package Policies
- You must schedule your appointments online. (trust us, it’s so easy, you’ll WANT to do it that way)
- We have limited availability, and you have no priority over other clients. You must schedule well in advance to ensure that you get the dates and times that you desire!
- A package must include a minimum of 4 lessons.
- Packages EXPIRE at the end of 12 months. Use the lessons or lose them.
- Package lessons can be used by any student. Anyone you share your code with can use it to schedule a lesson.
You can schedule your lessons online at any time. Schedule Now!
But, if you’ve got questions you need answered before you do that, we’ve got answers! Fill out the contact form below to send us an email, we’ll respond as quickly as we can. You can also call us at 727-828-6063, but we’re often out teaching students, so be sure to leave a voice mail!