- Getting a Driver's License in the Philippines is a lot of work...
- I never wanted to learn how to drive a car...
- Learning How to Drive a Car with SMART Driving School
- Choosing SMART Driving School
- I Was the Worst Driving Student.
- You Have to Practice Before Your Schedule Driving Classes
- I Had to Extend My Lessons, But I Did Pass.
- I Have My Driver's License, but I'm Still Too Scared to Drive...
Getting a Driver’s License in the Philippines is a lot of work…
Getting a Non-Professional Driver’s license here in the Philippines has gotten a bit more complicated this 2020. You need to complete a 15-hour theoretical driving seminar to get your Student-Driver’s Permit and afterward, enroll in an LTO-accredited Driving School to complete a Practical Driving Instruction course. That’s only when you’ll be qualified to apply for a Driver’s License at LTO.
One can’t just be taught how to drive by a friend or family member and proceed to get his driver’s license anymore given the recent LTO (Land Transportation Office) Memorandum Circular 2019-2176. There’s now a line-up of requirements one has to fulfill beforehand. So yeah… Since I would be spending so much of my time, attention, and boatloads of money just to learn how to drive, I might as well take it seriously!
I never wanted to learn how to drive a car…
I always made excuses to get out of learning how to drive because it was never part of my list of plans for the future. I always imagined riding in the back seat and having my own personal driver take me everywhere. Funny cause for a while that was actually the case. Before the pandemic, my father would always pick me up from work even if I could easily commute on my own. If I were stuck somewhere, I would just message him and he would pick me up if he was free.
What changed? Well, I finally realized that my father can’t drive me forever and I may not get rich enough in the future to hire my own personal driver. What a surprising revelation! And if I wanted to get as far away from the chaos of the city and possibly never return, I would have to learn how to operate a transportation vehicle.
For something to happen in your life, you have to want it for yourself. I had to stop making excuses and actually go do it. I had to learn how to drive because I genuinely wanted it for myself, not because someone else was forcing me. There was still the fear of being on the road and possibly crashing into other cars because of my panicky nature, but I just tried to toughen up and open my mind to the possibility that I could do it. Maybe I can drive?
Learning How to Drive a Car with SMART Driving School
Just a disclaimer, I will not be teaching you guys how to drive, okay? I will mainly be sharing my experience on learning how to drive and give out some suggestions if you’re planning to enroll in a driving school, learn how to drive, and finally get that Driver’s License.
Choosing SMART Driving School
After getting my Student-Driver’s Permit from LTO, I immediately booked my Practical Driving Instruction course at SMART Driving School. SMART offers driving courses for both Manual and Automatic transmissions for 8 hours and more, with your choice of vehicle. They’ll schedule your classes based on your availability and that of the driving instructors’ from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm any day of the week. Do take note that SMART is closed on Thursdays. You can also choose to extend your hours if needed. There will be an assessment once you finished your hours and if you pass that, you can get your certificate after 3-5 working days.
See the SMART Driving School’s Full Practical Driving Instruction Course Pricelist below.
SMART Driving School has several branches in Metro Manila. You may want to check out SMART Driving School’s Facebook page to inquire or stay updated on its latest announcements.
Even if their Manual Driving Course was the cheapest, I chose the 8-hour Automatic Driving course instead, because I felt like it was a better deal for me. Our car was automatic and the instructor also mentioned that you’re only allowed to drive the car indicated on your course completion certificate and eventually, your driver’s license. This means that you cannot drive a manual car if the course you completed was only automatic. Also, I personally felt like learning to drive a stick was super complicated I would be forced to pay more money just to extend my hours which would have been frustrating.
Once you’ve paid and scheduled your classes, you will be given a Student’s Assessment form. You will have to bring that, along with the receipt and your student’s permit every time you have a class. If you forget your student’s permit you won’t be allowed to drive at all. Also, be aware that you may not get the same instructor for your lessons. Rest assured that your lessons will advance because every instructor will take note of your progress in the student’s assessment form.
I Was the Worst Driving Student.
The first thing you should know when you begin learning how to drive is there’s nothing to be scared of. SMART Driving Instructors are all very experienced not only in driving but also in teaching people how to drive. They’re used to students being nervous and tensed, and starting slowly. They’re patient, and alert and they won’t let anything happen to you on the road. So even if you’re the worst driver, they’re gonna keep you safe. Just be calm, listen, and follow. The cars to be used are also surrounded with Student-Diver warning stickers, informing other cars to be cautious around you. The passenger side of the car also has its own brake pedal which the instructor can easily step on to stop at any time, before any potential accidents.
And yes, we had to use that passenger-side brake pedal a lot of times during my many hours of learning how to drive. As I’ve always imagined, my first time behind the wheel of a car was rough. After getting in the car and a few instructions, we were already driving out of the training center, onto a street towards the main road. I was frightened for sure, but I pushed it down because I had to move. My whole body was tensed and my hands on the wheel were too stiff. I also kept on stepping on the brake pedal every few seconds because I was scared of bumping into the nearby cars. I also panicked cause for some reason, I would suddenly forget which side was my left or right, and how many times I just turned the wheel. It was a disaster and I could hear the honks of the drivers behind me getting annoyed. I’m sorry. The instructor just told me to ignore the horns of the cars behind me because they will give way and I just needed to focus.
That was my first time learning how to drive, and nope it was still rough during my next days of lessons after that. Truth be told, I am no natural driver. I feel like I made ALL of the driving mistakes one possibly could while on the road. It was a miracle that we didn’t get into any accidents. I would list all of my mistakes for you, but it would be several more paragraphs long, and I’m embarrassed enough. I guess it’s just important to always learn from every mistake and practice doing the right thing every time. Also, remember that long as your car is not going too fast, you can always step on the break right away and stop before any accidents were to happen. It is going to be okay.
You Have to Practice Before Your Schedule Driving Classes
You need to practice driving a lot. I would actually suggest spacing out your driving lessons like 1-2 days in between so that you’ll have some time to practice on your own. If you have a car, practice on your own time with a licensed family member or friend by the passenger side. Go out early in the morning or late at night, and try to find wide roads with fewer cars to drive around on. I actually had to extend 2 more hours of driving lessons because they told me I wasn’t ready for assessment. So yeah, try to practice on your own so that during your lessons with your instructors, they’ll see that you already know what you’re doing. By the time you’re at the end of your hours, you guys would just be literally driving around in circles until he declares you as ready for assessment.
I Had to Extend My Lessons, But I Did Pass.
You have to schedule your assessment. Just know that the instructor will no longer speak or give you instructions. He will just observe what you’re doing. Don’t be nervous and just try to focus. I actually gave myself about 1-2 weeks of practice before the assessment, just to be confident enough that I won’t make any mistakes.
Do note that if during the assessment, you are close to bumping cars or people, it will be an automatic fail. But, no worries. If you fail the assessment, you can book additional hours of training and the next assessment will be free. If you choose to practice on your own before another go at the assessment, that would cost Php. 1000.
The assessment will take less than 30 minutes. I would suggest you guys do these things before entering the car.
- Go around the car first and inspect if the wheels have enough air.
- Pop-open the hood of the car to check the engine.
- Once you’re in the car, put on your seat belt, adjust your seat, and check your mirrors. Then, turn on the engine
- It is important to remember that before you go, you have to tell the instructor to put his seat belt on. He will intentionally not wear his seat belt and wait for your instruction.
Then, just confidently exit the training center. The instructor will only tell you directions on where to turn and you guys will basically go around for about 5 minutes. Once you return to the training center, you only need to perform one type of parking. The result of the assessment will also be shared on the same day. The certificate will be ready after 3-5 business days.
I Have My Driver’s License, but I’m Still Too Scared to Drive…
So am I already a good driver? Well, I still have a lot of practice to do. I think that driving still does not come naturally to me at all even after all of that training. I use my brain a lot and still kinda start-off stiff. Parking is also another challenge. I think it will still take some time for my brain to be connected to the car. They say that there will come a point when driving will come instinctively, but as of now, I’m very much thinking about my every action behind the wheel. I’m still trying to understand the car like it’s some sort of alien I need to befriend if that makes sense. Hahaha.
Well, that’s it. That’s my experience learning how to drive and yes, I already have my Driver’s license! Yay. I’m still scared to go out driving and actually put my license to use. I think that I still need a lot of practice, but we’ll get there.
And guess what? I also enrolled myself in a motorcycle riding course. It was also an absolute blast!
Anyways, see you guys on the road!
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