The Cost of Learning to Drive

Six hours of training at $30 to $75 an hour add up to $180 to $450 for a new teenage driver to meet state requirements.

After they earn a learner’s permit, teenagers need at least six hours of behind-the-wheel training at a state-licensed school before they can take a driver’s license test in California.

Piedmont teenagers can turn to more than a dozen driving schools in the area, many of which charge around $30 an hour for lessons, though they can go as high as $75 an hour. Some schools also offer driver’s education for between $50 and $99 for those still seeking their learner’s permit.

Generally, it’s the same price for those over 18, though adults are not required to get in-car training.

At the Berkeley Driving School, located on MacArthur Boulevard in Oakland, the cost for a driving lesson is $57.50 an hour. It's a seven- to 10-day wait for lessons. The school also offers an online class for teenagers to get their permits for $55. Owner Annette Gagnon said the certificates are mailed out immediately after the course is completed. The school has been open since 1988 and is a member of the Better Business Bureau.

At Bill’s Defensive Driving School, based out of Pinole, the cost is between $140 and $150 for two hours of behind-the-wheel lessons. An employee said the cost is higher in part because of special insurance that allows family members to ride in the vehicle along with the student. The school also teaches defensive driving techniques and its vehicles come equipped with passenger-side accelerator controls in addition to brakes.

Based in Walnut Creek, the Safestway Driving School offers six hours of driving instruction for teenagers for $330. For adults, the cost of instruction is $65 for one hour or $125 for two hours. For $99, the school offers driver’s education for a permit either online or in a classroom for four days. A defensive driving course is also offered for the same price.

The North Oakland Driving School on 13th Street offers package deals of two three-hour behind-the-wheel lessons for $210; or the lessons plus an online driver’s education course for $250, according to its website. The online class alone is $39.95.

DriversEd.com, a national driving school, offers six hours of driving instruction for $336. An online driver’s education course is $99 and 20 percent of the course is available to try for free.

World Driving School, based in Hayward, provides two hours of lessons for $75. Swift Driving & Traffic Violator School, on 18th Street in Oakland, offers two hours of driver’s training for $60. It also offers an online course for $50.

Other driver education companies in Oakland include Eagle Driving School on East 12th Street and Cities Driving School on Franklin Street, both of which offer behind-the-wheel lessons for $35 an hour. William Driving School offers a two-hour lesson for $60.

Bianca Forrester August 06, 2011 at 04:06 PM
Pretty much everyone we know in Piedmont uses Jack Stack Driving School - Dennis has taught three of our five teens to drive and we wouldn't dream of using anyone else! He is patient, unfailingly courteous and polite and he does a terrific job teaching teens to drive - no easy feat! (510) 708 - 1019
Amy Jeffries August 06, 2011 at 06:50 PM
Thanks for the tip! Anyone else have experience with other driving schools?
Hillary August 18, 2011 at 06:46 PM
Hillary August 18, 2011 at 06:47 PM
I'm only going to say this once. Paying 50-75 an hour is insane. Go to this guy. He's 25 an hour and every Asian parent in Piedmont passes his card around. Kwan Kwok Tin of Standard Driving School (licensed instructor)...works 7 days a week...510-703-6818 or 510-533-6619


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