Prospect Heights

Drive Rite, park wrong? Double-parking driving school instructors endanger cyclists

May 7, 2019 Noah Goldberg
A DriveRite vehicle double parked for 30 minutes Thursday outside the driving school's Prospect Heights office. Eagle photo Noah Goldberg.
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A Prospect Heights driving school called Drive Rite Academy breaks driving laws and racks up tickets for illegal parking jobs, according to one local resident and a search of the school’s license plate histories.

Ian Dutton — a cyclist and commercial airline pilot who lives close by Drive Rite in Park Slope — said he’s seen instructors for the driving school make illegal U-Turns, as well as right turns from the left-hand lane. A search of Drive Rite’s vehicles’ license plates on How’s My Driving NY showed numerous school zone speed camera violations as well as tickets for double parking, parking in front of a fire hydrant and parking during street cleaning.

“They’re pervasively bad drivers. And that’s the last example we want to give new drivers,” said Dutton, who, along with his wife, complained about Drive Rite at a recent 78th Precinct community council meeting.

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“We don’t choose to double park; we have no choice,” said Simon, the owner of Drive Rite Academy, who declined to give his last name. “We are sorry if we disturbed anyone. We try to provide a good service to the community. We do our best. We’re one of the best rated schools online.”

Dutton said that the instructors often double park their vehicles while waiting for students, forcing drivers heading east on Dean Street to swerve into an unprotected bike lane. Dutton said he first noticed the issue in summer 2017 and brought it up to the 78th Precinct, but nothing has been done about it.

The driving school also has locations in Flatbush and Manhattan.

When the Brooklyn Eagle visited Drive Rite last week, an instructor had double parked her vehicle outside the office on Dean Street between Carlton Avenue and Vanderbilt Avenue. She sat in the car for 15 minutes as other cars veered into the bike lane to get around. Then she got out and left the car double parked for another 15 minutes, before leaving with a driving student.

Her vehicle has eight violations since June 2017 — all for illegal parking near Drive Rite’s office, including a June 2018 double parking ticket, according to How’s My Driving NY.

“For bicyclists, [double parking] forces them to negotiate obstacles in their path, and in this case it forces other cars to go into the bike lane,” said Joe Cutrufo, a spokesperson for Transportation Alternatives. “They should be setting a better example as professional drivers.”

Another Drive Rite vehicle — parked legally Thursday — has had 14 violations since 2016, including two school zone speed camera violations, according to How’s My Driving NY. The bumper of that car is attached to the body of the car with tape.

In a two-month span in 2018, a third Drive Rite vehicle had three school zone speed camera violations and a double parking ticket.

One legally parked Drive Rite Vehicle is held together by tape. Eagle photo by Noah Goldberg.
One legally parked Drive Rite Vehicle is held together by tape. Eagle photo by Noah Goldberg.

“Double parking of passenger vehicles is illegal at all times, including when street cleaning is occurring, regardless of location, purpose or duration,” the Department of Transportation says on its website.

Dutton understands that to drivers, double parking for 30 minutes may not seem like a crime, but he compared the low likelihood of causing a crash to his experience flying passenger planes.

“They’re putting other people’s safety at risk. If something is a one in a million risk in flying, there’s no way we would do it. That would be a plane crash a week,” he said.

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