Op-Ed: Learning to Drive During COVID-19

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Edan Zinn

Cars parked in the gym parking lot. Photo illustration by Edan Zinn ’23.

Marlie Kass, Writer

I have been eagerly preparing to take the wheel for years now. I always ask my parents questions when we drive together, making sure I know all of our normal routes for when the time comes for me to take the wheel. However, now that I am finally old enough to start driving, the world has taken a bit of a U-turn.

Although I had a break from school in November, I didn’t have a break from Zoom. Over Thanksgiving break, I completed thirty hours of driving lessons online through Brookline Driving School.

Over the course of five days, I—and about fifty strangers—logged onto Zoom for our lessons. The teacher walked us through a wide variety of subjects, ranging from the meaning of different road signs to which way to turn the wheel when parallel parking.

I was surprised to learn how many different signs and symbols could be observed on the road. It comforted me to know that I was learning how to interpret the things that help guide drivers to the right path and keep people safe.

However, we didn’t just talk about the practical side of driving—we also talked about the impact emotions can have on driving. I did not expect to hear so much about how one’s mental state can affect their safety when driving, and therefore should always be considered before getting behind the wheel. 

The instructor walked us through a slideshow, encouraging us to take a screenshot of every slide, and gave us lectures on traffic safety and how to park. She also told us stories about previous students—ones who had succeeded and others who did not prevail, acting as cautionary tales.

Additionally, we watched a few documentaries to illustrate different driving concepts. We watched everything from an anti-lock braking system commercial from the early 2000’s to a hour-long movie on the history of seat belts.

Even though the Zoom class started to get tiring after the third or fourth hour, I knew I had to persevere. I turned my focus to my notes, making sure I had everything written down.

Online lessons made me feel more confident to start driving, but I wish I had the chance to practice some of the concepts we talked about. Once I am able to apply what I learned to the physical act of driving, I hope everything we went over will set in. 

Still, I feel very prepared to start driving. The teacher went over every aspect of what we needed to get started and always made sure to pause if we had any questions. It turned something that seemed abstract into something I could understand and work on. 

My instructor shared that she would have preferred to be teaching us in a classroom, but her lessons paid off when I passed the online test a few weeks later.

I turned sixteen this week, and I hope to get my driving permit soon. I look forward to continuing my journey to becoming a safe, confident driver.