How Many Lessons?

How many lessons does it take to learn to drive? What a great question! There is no simple answer to that question. Every student is different! They have different backgrounds, different natural skillsets, and learn in different ways and at different rates. But, we’ve compiled some good approximations below.

All of these estimates are based on the assumption that the student will get SEVERAL HOURS OF PRACTICE between each lesson to hone the skills that are taught. If the student is unable to practice between lessons for any reason, plan on MORE LESSONS and closer together! Learning to drive is like learning to do anything else, it takes constant practice.

PLEASE, be honest with yourself about the practice that you (or the student that you are responsible for) will be able to get. There are a lot of excuses for not practicing, and we hear them all. None of the excuses help! Whether it’s student time constraints (sports practice, homework, part-time job, studying for exams, etc), parent time constraints (working too late, too tired, other kids to deal with, FEAR, or just the “parent/teen dynamic”… we get it), or even simply no licensed driver available to practice with the student… accept this reality. Failure to accept this reality simply costs you more time and money.

Common Example: You schedule 9 lessons for a beginning driver with the intent of practicing between lessons. We do a lesson every 1-2 weeks for a while and get through 6 lessons. Little or no practice happens between lessons. We encourage practice before scheduling another lesson. 3 weeks goes by. Or 4 months. Little or no practice happens over that time. Then we get the 7th lesson, and we’re back to square one. Reteaching what we taught on the 2nd and 3rd lesson because the skills were not cemented in place by practice. The 8th and 9th lessons end up being more catching up, and still no practice. We’ve done 9 lessons, but the student’s total driving experience adds up to those 9 lessons (13.5 hours) plus maybe another few hours. It takes a lot more time than that to learn how to drive! Needless to say, even after 9 lessons, this student is still very much at a beginner level. So they end up taking more lessons. And the pattern repeats. And they take more lessons. And by the time they’re done, they’ve done 20-25 lessons or more (total of maybe 30-35 hours of driving experience when the state requirement is a minimum of 50) and they might barely be ready to pass their license and drive on their own at the most basic level.
Better Example: If, for whatever reason, you question your ability to get practice, accept it! Plan your lessons accordingly. Go ahead and buy 12, 18 or more lessons, and schedule them 2-3 per week. Maybe even schedule some back-to-back lessons to give us a 3-hour block to work with! Then, in a matter of 6-8 weeks or less, you’ll likely have a student that is much more confident and ready for the world. Why? Because we will be able to give them the regular practice that is needed, and continually build on previous lessons.
Be aware that the state requirement for a teen driver is 50 hours of supervised practice, and 10 of that is to be at night. If you did ALL of that practice as lesson time, it would add up to over 33 lessons! We’re not going to ask anyone to do that. We’ll accept the fact that professional driving lesson time is probably more valuable than parent practice time, but how much more? If you say 2-times more…. that would still add up about 17 lessons for a student that gets ZERO practice outside of their lessons. There’s no substitute for practice time, it has to happen one way or another.
Beginning Drivers
If the student is completely new to driving, never been behind the wheel, no prior experience with go-karts or golf carts, or anything of the sort, we recommend at least 12 lessons and ample supervised practice between lessons. We will begin with the very basics of driving and progress at the student’s pace.
Slightly Experienced Drivers
If the student can at least drive around the block smoothly and confidently, make a smooth and proper stop at a stop sign, and knows how to use a turn signal, they may require fewer lessons. Plan on 9-12 lessons with plenty of supervised practice between lessons. After a brief check-out on the basics, we’ll move this student out into traffic and more advanced situations as we feel they are ready.
Experienced Drivers
If the student has been driving regularly for at least 6 months, has had lots of practice, and gets around confidently, but just needs to be checked out and maybe taken to the next level, then 6-9 lessons would be appropriate. We’ll check them out in a variety of situations and make sure they are doing everything correctly, and prepare them for their Road Test.
Very Experienced Drivers
If the student experienced, perhaps even fully licensed, and looking to get to the next level, we’ll start with an evaluation of general driving. That will give us a better idea of what we’re working with and how many additional lessons may be required.
Public School Driver's Ed
We’ve seen a lot of “graduates” of the modern public school driver’s education. We have found that they spend a LOT of classroom time covering a lot of useful information, and they spend a LOT of time driving around their closed course. And that’s great. But, what they don’t do is spend enough time on public roads. If a student gets appropriate practice with their parents (as they should), then they get a well-rounded education, and enough experience to be safe drivers. But, if ALL they do is driver’s ed at school, what they’ve learned is to drive 15 miles-per-hour in a parking lot. They are often not comfortable driving faster than that, and they don’t know how to negotiate traffic in the real world. If you have one of those students, even if they have been issued their “test waiver” by the school, we normally recommend at least 6 lessons of private driving instruction, plus plenty of parent practice.
More or Less
Yes, the purpose of this website is to sell you driving lessons. But, as driving instructors, it is EXTREMELY rare that we are ever given enough time with a student that we feel we’ve been able to cover “everything”. We understand that everyone has budgets and schedules to work within, and as such, OUR time is often limited. We have to prioritize what we teach based on the time available, and on the skill level of the student. (for example: “I wasn’t able to spend a lot of time on the Interstate with this student because they needed more time working on parking/basic turns/lane changes/whatever”) It’s a compromise that we hate to have to make, but we do it every day. So, sure, we make more money with more lessons… but, that’s NOT the sole reason why we will always recommend MORE rather than LESS. If we can get it, we’d much prefer to have the time to thoroughly do our job.

And when it comes right down to it… the difference between 9 lessons and 12 lessons is only about $400. How much is your insurance deductible? How much is the injury of ANY person worth? Driving lessons are worth the investment.

Senior Driving Lessons
Some driving schools shun adult students. Not us! We’re happy to teach new drivers of any age, or offer refresher training for any driver who needs it. All we ask is that you approach your driving lessons with an open mind. Some of the things you were taught years ago may have changed, and the world has certainly changed! The above guidelines would still apply to an adult or senior driving student. Take as many lessons as you need based on your level of experience, and we’ll teach at your level.

Please understand that regardless of how many years of experience you may have, we will ALWAYS start with a basic evaluation of driving skills and work our way up to more complex situations. Be patient with us, we’ll be patient with you, and if it is at all possible, you’ll come out a more skilled and safer driver!

A Word About Highway Driving
Highway driving is always the LAST thing we do, IF the student has progressed that far, and we have enough lessons to do it. If we’ve reached the end of a package, and we’re still working on the finer points of making lane changes and dealing with traffic on a 45-mph city street, then we won’t have time to progress to highway. If highway driving is a goal or priority, please plan accordingly, and be prepared to add additional lessons IF necessary.

If you happen to be an experienced driver JUST looking to get on the highway, know that we’re going to spend most (probably all) of your first lesson just evaluating (and likely remediating) your skills at lower levels before we even think about putting you on the highway. It will absolutely take at least two lessons, if not three.

We’re not putting anyone on the highway before they are ready!