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Fermi problem: driving instructors

How many driving instructors are there in the Boston area?

1 million people, 10,000 turning 16 every year and mostly learning to drive at some point, 10 hours to learn to drive, 1000 hours of instruction time, so 100 students a year and 100 instructors. If it takes less time to learn or more is available I could see the number dropping to 25; I don't see it going to 400.

But! Most families have cars, do most people learn to drive from their parents? That could cut business by 90%, leaving 10. There may also be adult in business in the form of buying off driving infractions with lessons; if 10% of the adults take such a lesson at some point in their life, then that could support another 10 instructors.

The web will show me driving schools, not individual instructors; how many instructors per school? Basic driving instruction doesn't have much economies of scale: one student behind the wheel, one car, one instructor in the passenger seat. Having a business could be as simple as putting out an ad an showing up, unless there are regulations about having a car the instructor can take control of. But there could be some team up under brand name or sharing office expensives, I'll guess 2-3 instructors per school on average.

I'm ignoring motorcycles or commercial vehicles, just looking at basic cars.

Yelp lists 10 schools in the area, missing one I know of, but including a motorcycle school.

Sonia's makes teens take 12 hours behind the wheel, 6 in observation, and 30 in the classroom. [this seems standard] $450 for all that, or $30/hour for road practice. Indicates the law does require a two-brake system. No indication of how many people are involved.
Love's has one instructor.
Brookline has "a handful" of instructors.
North Quincy review mention 4 names; the website says "Collectively, we have close to 50 years of driving experience." so can't be too many people.
Safety Auto claims to have service a wide range of immigrant communities, and taught 3000 students in the past 2 years, vs. my rough 100/year estimate for one person. So maybe 7-15 instructors.
City Auto claims 50,000 students since 1998 or about 3300/year! 15-33 instructors?
D&D totally unclear, plus reviews call it a scam that makes you fail your test.
Metro: one review about parking in a handicapped spot, dead website.
Boston DS: reviews make it sound like one guy. Website gives us director, manager, and CFO, but not instructors.

Google lists some more:
Natural: no info
Newton: father/daughter team, photo of three cars.
A-L&L: no idea, though name and photo of two cars sounds like a two-person thing
T-Guide: no idea
Success: "thousands in the past 12 years". 3 cars.

Then Google Maps has a bunch of small dots.
Friendship: one guy?
International: I remember thinking a husband-wife team, don't know why.
Arlex: family-owned.
Canto: "Our staff speak English, Portuguese, Spanish, Cambodian(Kymer) and other African languages." That would imply at least a few polyglots, except "other African languages" makes me suspicious, as none of the ones mentioned are African.
Henry's Everett is family-owned.

Okay, there's not quite 40 dots on the broader map, I won't go through them all. But 100 instructors seems pretty plausible, in the end. I realized along the way that "most people learned from their parents" may not apply to immigrants; the two schools that seem potentially big have Chinese on their website or emphasize their immigrant service.

See the comment count unavailable DW comments at http://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/401626.html#comments



( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 2nd, 2014 07:03 pm (UTC)
Where I grew up, most people learned to drive through a school program. (Even kids who'd been driving grain trucks on a farm since the age of 10 still had to go through formal training.) I know the guy who taught my class does individual adult instruction as well.
Aug. 2nd, 2014 07:13 pm (UTC)
I asked old schoolmates on Facebook, and apparently Chicago did have a probably cheap or free 'range' program. Simulators(!), driving around cones on a parking lot, then road instruction and test. Don't know why I passed it up, except the first summer I was 16 I went to the USSR amidst a summer job, and the next summer I'd graduated (with another job.) And no one's clear on the actual cost.
Aug. 3rd, 2014 10:18 pm (UTC)
Maybe because you lived in the city proper? We were all desperate to drive because public transportation was nil. Also, our classes were offered during the school year, mornings or evenings, and like I said, integrated with the school itself, so they were convenient and didn't have to be sought out.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


Damien Sullivan

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