Top Ten Nightmares and Mishaps in Driver’s Education

Driver’s education first began in the United Kingdom as a business in 1909. Twenty-five years later, the first high school driver’s ed course was opened in the United States. It offered students lessons in driving skills as well as hands-on training.

Since that time, such programs have been plagued, particularly in America, with unscrupulous instructors, hysterical students, and a myriad of maniacal drivers consumed with rage. The following 10 entries examine particularly bizarre driving lessons and license exams that took a dreadful turn for the worse.

10 Traffic Delays And Shattered Elbows

When dealing with both harebrained adolescents and deranged motorists with a grudge, driving instructors are expected to have a fair amount of patience. For 64-year-old Chris Barnett, however, his pleas of temperance fell on deaf ears.

While driving for the first time in heavy traffic in Braintree, Essex, in 2015, Barnett’s student became flustered at an intersection, causing a minor traffic delay. After merely 20 seconds, two impatient men in a Range Rover pulled beside Barnett shouting colorful expletives.

Although the instructor repeatedly informed the dynamic duo that they were being recorded on video, the furious driver exited his vehicle to confront Barnett through the open passenger window. Seeing as his friend was having all the fun, the driver’s quirky sidekick decided to join in on the shenanigans.

In an attempt to de-escalate the situation, Barnett opened the car door, only to have it violently slammed on his arm. Then the suspects fled in a hasty and cowardly fashion reminiscent of their arrival. After experiencing what Barnett refers to as “the worst road rage incident . . . in his career,” he was fortunate to walk away from the ordeal with just a broken elbow.[1]

9 French Inhale

Dulling one’s senses prior to a driving exam would be quite the foolish act, even more so if the advocate of such illicit behavior is entrusted with the well-being of his students. In 2015, Eric Robertson, the owner and instructor at Drive Tech in Albuquerque, suggested that his student, a “tense” 15-year-old girl, drive to his home during a lesson in order to smoke marijuana.

When the perplexed girl refused the offer, Robertson decided to step up his allure during her next lesson by driving the teen behind a building and inquiring if she had ever “French inhaled.” Then he lit a joint and blew the smoke into the girl’s mouth while kissing her.

Robertson’s dreamy afternoon was short-lived as he was arrested soon after and charged with child abuse and giving drugs to a minor. Interestingly enough, the married father’s speeding history was brought up in court, and the judge referred Robertson to a driver’s education class of his own. Of course, this begs the question as to how he could have operated his own school given the lengthy list of traffic violations against him.

The vexation of the parents only escalated upon learning that Robertson’s driving school had closed without issuing refunds or even giving notice. According to one parent who had paid $350 to Drive Tech, “We came yesterday and they were closed and we didn’t know why. We have been trying to call them, and no one answered the phone. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know who to call.”[2]

8 History Of Wrongdoings

In 2011, administrators in Iowa’s Mercer County School District fired driver’s ed teacher Dan Correll following a series of complaints about his unorthodox behavior. From 2009 to 2011, he was cited on numerous occasions for falling asleep in both the classroom as well as the driver’s ed vehicle during student lessons. Correll also made “inappropriate and unwelcome comments to several female staff members” and acted in an “inappropriate manner” toward his students.[3]

Five years later, Iowa had to contend with an unprincipled driver’s license examiner at the Department of Transportation. During a driving test, 62-year-old John Alexander told a 49-year-old woman to pull into a parking lot. There, he handed her his phone and instructed her to view several photos of his penis and a video of him masturbating.

Although Alexander warned the woman to keep quiet, she reported the incident 30 minutes later to the police and filed a lawsuit against the Iowa Department of Transportation.

7 Failure At Its Finest

Driving tests can be nerve-racking, yet no one would expect such trepidation to boil over into road rage, especially if the student has yet to qualify for a permanent license. Even more nonsensical is directing one’s wrath toward her female instructor.

Sadly, a livid 21-year-old woman nearly cost her driving instructor her life or, at the very least, a night in the ICU. In 2013, the event occurred at the BMV testing site in Mayfield Heights, Ohio, after the young woman hit a cone during her driving exam.

Given that such an infraction caused her to fail the test, the unidentified student cast blame on her instructor by saying, “Why didn’t you tell me what I was doing? Where else can I take my test?” After several minutes of listening to this, the teacher stepped out of the vehicle to make her way inside the BMV building.

Moments later, the incensed student floored the gas pedal and sped directly toward her instructor. Miraculously, the teacher managed to jump out of the way a second before splattering onto the windshield. The disenchanted student fled the scene.[4]

6 Late-Night Beatdown

During his final driving lesson in 2016, 16-year-old Dominic Elliott took notice of a car that had been following him for quite some time. Given the late hour, his instructor, Robert Ross, became concerned and ordered the student to make a U-turn at the light.

Much to their surprise, the vehicle behind them was a patrol car. The policeman inside activated the car’s emergency lights following the turn. Six deputies immediately arrived on scene with their guns drawn. Despite Ross repeatedly informing the officers that Elliott was a student driver, the 16-year-old was thrown to the ground and handcuffed, causing severe injuries to his right arm.

After Elliott was placed in the back of the patrol car, the deputies realized that he was a minor with no priors or warrants. So they allowed him to go home. According to a lawsuit filed against the Drive America school, the teen’s parents allege that the company endangered their son by negligently having a faulty license plate on the training car, which caused law enforcement to believe it was stolen.[5]

Elliott’s parents also filed suit against the sheriff’s office for unspecified damages because their son suffered nerve damage with severe pain, swelling, and changes in skin color. Nearly a year after the ordeal, the teen mustered the courage to drive again and finally got his license.

5 And Another For The Road

In 2017, staff at Joliet Central High expected the worst when they discovered the school’s driver’s ed instructor, 46-year-old Nestor M. Nowak, “slumped over the wheel” around 11:00 AM outside the building’s main entrance. Believing that Nowak had suffered a stroke, faculty members called for an ambulance.

They discovered that the heavy-eyed educator had more than three times the legal limit of alcohol in his system. Court records indicated that Nowak had 13 other traffic violations, including a DUI three years earlier.[6]

In an unrelated event in 2017, a 57-year-old driving instructor in Germany was arrested after he failed to avert a crash because he was too intoxicated to brake. As a result, the 17-year-old driver slammed the vehicle into a house.

Perhaps the most mind-boggling drinking incident occurred in 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa. While operating a school vehicle, a driving instructor had a blood alcohol level that was 12 times more than the legal limit. Instead of meeting his client at the Gallows Hill testing center, the unidentified tippler slept off his inebriated state at the Athlone police station.

4 Mommy Dearest

In 2016, Ilyse Levine-Kanji of Westborough, Massachusetts, drove her 18-year-old son 171 kilometers (106 mi) so that he could take his driver’s exam. However, when the pair arrived at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, they were informed by the driving instructor that her son’s test was canceled because the man believed that it would be “unsafe” for unspecified reasons.

Much to the mother’s dismay, the instructor refused to reconsider his decision, sending Ilyse Levine-Kanji into a fit of rage. Grabbing a ballpoint pen, Levine-Kanji attempted to stab the man but was restrained when he grabbed her arm.

Not to be deterred, the unhinged mother—who is a member of the Westborough School Committee—began biting the instructor on the forearm, causing several lacerations. When her animalistic instincts subsided, Levine-Kanji and her son dashed to their vehicle and headed back home.[7]

A short time later, mother and son were pulled over on the Mass Pike by a state police trooper who promptly arrested Levine-Kanji for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. However, this was not her first run-in with the law. In 2013, Levine-Kanji was placed on probation and ordered to undergo counseling for anger issues after punching a woman several times in the face at a child’s pool party.

3 Doughnut Run

In late 2016, Malisa L. Stocker, an employee who taught students in North Marion High’s driver education program in Florida, found herself in hot water after she crashed the school’s vehicle during a Dunkin’ Donuts run. In a creative attempt to cover her tracks, Stocker falsified documentation while trying to have the driver’s ed vehicle repaired at the district’s bus garage.

After stating that a student had crashed into a tree, Stocker returned to the school campus at night to create tire tracks and find tree bark to put on the car, all with the help and guidance of her sister. When it became apparent that her plot was about to unravel, Stocker tried to coerce a student into signing a false confession to take the blame for the collision.

Her predicament only worsened when Stocker learned that she had slammed into a vehicle that belonged to another student’s elderly grandfather. Stocker dissuaded the man from reporting the accident and prevented him from obtaining her insurance information.

“In sum, Stocker left the scene of the accident, failed to call law enforcement, failed to notify Risk Management department, and failed to notify school administration or her supervisor,” said school superintendent Heidi Maier, who called for Stocker’s dismissal.[8]

2 Love Is In The Air

Love is an enriching experience that should be shared by all. That is, unless you’re a 15-year-old female student being obsessively stalked by your 45-year-old deranged female driving instructor in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana.

Such was the case for the teenage girl who became the object of infatuation for Angel F. Owens, who called the girl 650 times and sent over 12,000 text messages containing inappropriate sexual language between February and July 2016. According to detectives, Owens had given the girl an iPhone on the condition that she keep it hidden from her parents. When the girl declined the offer, Owens threatened to “make the victim’s family disappear.”

Her downward spiral of obsession only intensified as the months went on. After giving the girl an engraved charm bracelet, Owens insisted that the girl call her “momma” and flew into a fit of rage if the victim did not comply with momma’s demands.

When the victim eventually told the middle-aged lunatic to leave her alone, Owens began stalking the girl by incessantly driving by her home and sending her messages stating that Owens was going to kill herself. This prompted the victim’s family to notify the Calcasieu Parish sheriff’s office.

As if being truthful would pull on the heartstrings of detectives, the lovestruck instructor blatantly admitted that she was “obsessed with the victim and had been stalking her.” Unsurprisingly, Owens was arrested moments later and charged with indecent behavior with a juvenile and stalking. Her bond was set at $140,000.[9]

1 Unanswered Questions

A parent’s worst nightmare occurred during a routine driving lesson when 16-year-old Joseph Franks inexplicably ran a stop sign in Waterville, Ohio, in 2014. Even more puzzling, neither Franks nor his 48-year-old instructor, Thomas Smith, tried to stop the car, resulting in a collision with a minivan. The school vehicle was struck with such force that it flipped over before landing in the front yard of a nearby home.

The driver of the minivan, 48-year-old Kathleen Woods, was taken to a nearby hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening. However, Franks and Smith were pronounced dead at the scene.

The unfathomable tragedy was compounded by revelations about Smith’s history of driving infractions. Just four days earlier, he had been struck by a pickup truck in his personal vehicle after failing to yield at a stop sign.[10]

Adam is just a hubcap trying to hold on in the fast lane.


Written by Adam R. Ramos

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