Learning To Drive Later In Life: What Learners Over 50 Should Know And Expect

Living in a large city, you never really had to worry about learning to drive. Between the city bus system, the trains, and the subway, getting wherever you wanted to go was a breeze. The thing is that you have plans on retiring to a smaller community in the next 12 to 15 years. At that point, the transportation options you've used all your life will no longer be available.

The bottom line is that it is time to learn how to drive a motor vehicle. But isn't that something only young people do? In fact, quite a few people do wait until later in life before they learn how to drive. Here are some points to keep in mind as you prepare to make this journey.

Reviewing the Requirements of Your State

Before you will be able to take any type of driving lessons, you will need a learner's permit. The requirements for these permits will vary from one jurisdiction to the next. Your best bet is to talk with the local Department of Motor Vehicles and find out what you will need to do in order to get that permit. 

In most cases, you will need to undergo a written exam and take an eye examination. Some states, like Connecticut, require adult learners to attend a traditional class before taking the exams. Other states provide the instruction materials online.  By taking the time to find out what is required locally, you can begin preparing at once.

Choosing the Right Driving School

Now that you have your permit in hand, it is time to focus on the task of learning how to drive. Armed with your knowledge of traffic laws and other basics, you need time behind the wheel. Keep in mind that time should include having a seasoned driver in the seat next to you.

Choosing to learn how to drive under the care of a professional makes sense. The ideal setting is a school that has programs designed for students who happen to be more mature in years. Expect the driving lessons to include some time in the classroom. The school may even be equipped with software simulations that allow you to experience things like starting an engine, working a clutch, and turning a wheel as you navigate a simulated street route. 

As you begin to build confidence with the simulations, your instructor will critique your response time and general handling of the situations presented by the software program. When and as there is the need, it is possible to go through those simulations again and further hone your skills. The benefit of this approach is that you become more comfortable being in control of a vehicle before you get behind the wheel of a real car or truck.

Getting on the Road

When the instructor feels you are ready, it will be time to move from a simulated vehicle to the real thing. In other words, you will take the wheel of an actual car. 

For the first few outings, your instructor will have you drive through areas that are relatively easy to navigate.  This will include residential streets where you will encounter stop signs, the occasional traffic light, and just enough traffic for you to get used to sharing the road with other drivers. As the lessons progress, you'll have the chance to try your hand at busier areas of town. Before the lessons are over, you will drive on a major highway, have the chance to take a few exits, and even drive in rush hour traffic. 

Remember that the fact that you are no longer a teenager does not mean there will be any problem with learning how to drive. You may even find that the skill comes to you much easier than you expected. Always listen closely to the advice of the instructor since many of those same situations will be part of the test for your driver's license. Do your best at the driving school, and the odds of earning your license on the first try are much higher.