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Spanish driving lessons, a billion-dollar-a-year industry.

Spanish driving lessons, a billion-dollar-a-year industry. The driving test in Spain.

In Spain, if you want to get a driving license, official driving lessons are compulsory. There is no such thing as learning to drive with family members or friends. Not only that, but unlike the USA and Australia, learning to drive an automatic vehicle is also not an option. Furthermore, both the theoretical and practical driving standards that you need to reach before you are ready to attempt the final driving exam can only be described as “pedantic”. What this means is attending paid driving lessons, and plenty of them…

Over the past few months I’ve been regularly attending driving lessons with a local driving school in La Orotava. This started out a fairly nerve-wracking experience. Today, I just completed the 19th compulsory driving lesson, at a cost of 48.00 to 50.00 Euros each one -yes they had the nerve to put the price up half way through! This soon adds up to quite a sum of money: 950 Euros!!! I’ve come to regard these as some some pretty darn expensive ‘advanced’ parking lessons, and if you think that’s bad, when my partner was learning to drive, she had to take 60-something lessons, and then still failed the actual driving exam twice!

Now you may think “what kind of a clutz needs that many lessons?”. And I can tell you right there that I had already driven halfway across the state of NSW in Australia earlier in 2007, a distance of well over 500km. Not only that, but I hold a current full motorcycle driving license. So I already had plenty of experience driving on public roads in dense city traffic. Changing gears on my motorbike become second nature years ago. I’m saying that I was already fairly accustomed to driving on the road, albeit in Australia. In my opinion, I only needed some further instruction with the gears & clutch, which I was already getting the hang of by the end of the very first spanish driving lesson.

My point is: that great quantity of lessons is not really needed at all. It’s just an excuse to earn money. To prove my point, let’s look t the following numbers. There are now 45 million people in Spain. To quote some driving statistics, Spanish authorities  issued 698,128 new driving licences in 2003, bringing the total number of drivers in Spain to 20,301,418. Ususally, these figures increase with each passing year. Even so, if every one of those new drivers needed an average of 20 driving lessons at cost of 50 Euros each, the total cost per annum is 1 BILLION AMERICAN DOLLARS!

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