Driving school moves within walking distance
The Park City Blue Ribbon Driving School will no longer ask students to hitch a ride so they can learn how to drive.
Monday, the driving school opened a new location on Woodbine Way, only a few blocks away from Park City High School a move that accommodates the typical 15.5- year-old pedestrian awaiting the state’s permission to get behind the wheel.
The Park City-based school has more than nine of its schools in the Salt Lake and Park City area, according to Albert Diaz, part-owner and teacher for Blue Ribbon. Whether the school places itself near a state Department of Motor Vehicles or near a school, every location is sensitive to its surroundings. Distance matters a little more when you don’t have the horse power or the wheels to get there, notes Diaz.
"We try to be as convenient as possible for everybody," Diaz explains. "Now kids won’t need someone to drop them off at the Blue Roof, [our former location.]"
Diaz joined Blue Ribbon five years ago after he moved back to Park City from California, where he helped to manage a car valet company on the Pacific Coast Highway. His experience caring for expensive cars tends to impress his young students who lust after luxury sports vehicles, he says.
For Diaz, it seems, driving is not only his vocation, but a long-time passion that he enjoys sharing with students.
"It’s fun to see kids enjoying themselves driving. They really want to learn and it’s very exciting for them," he said.
The ability to drive all year long, is also important to the driving school, he adds, but one of the challenges of a mountain town can be negotiating steep and snowy roads. Diaz says Blue Ribbon plans to reduce the danger of driving on slick roads by ordering a fleet of all-wheel-drive Subarus within the next few years.
"As far as learning to drive goes, there is no slow time. People want to learn to drive all year round, even in the wintertime," Diaz said, noting the school typically has 24 to 30 drivers daily. "Snow can make tires slide, so we’ve decided to use new cars that can handle the conditions."
Blue Ribbon trains all instructors, he notes, and teaches the rules of the road through PowerPoint presentations, which is a unique feature, since many driving school instructors at other companies train elsewhere and teach with markers on a white board, according to Diaz.
The school stays competitive with other local driving schools by offering a variety of classes, featuring an intensive course that guarantees students will pass the driver’s test within nine days of lessons. It has expanded classes to three different times daily throughout the week at 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. and soon hopes to be able to teach in Spanish.
This summer, if there is a demand, Blue Ribbon has discussed teaching stick-shift driving courses and "high-performance driving" as well, says Diaz.
"We moved out to provide better services and a good location," he reported.
The school is working on an Internet training course and driving by appointment regime.
Though most driving courses crowd with teenagers, Diaz assures there isn’t any age limit for Blue Ribbon courses. All ages are welcome.
And the school’s teachers are certified to not only instruct, but to give the road test as well, which makes students more comfortable, since they are already familiar with the instructor they test with, Diaz says.
Many Blue Ribbon students do choose to go directly to a state-run facility to do their road test, and still manage to succeed.
"We’ve gotten a lot of compliments from people at the drivers license division," Diaz beams. "Most of our students pass with very few mistakes on their road tests."
The Blue Ribbon Driving School is located at 1950 Woodbine Way. For more information, call 866-322-2490. Visit http://www.stateroadtest.com for more information.
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Another ski season is in the books, and much to the relief of the restaurant industry, the outlook, like the weather, is looking sunny.