Old friends and tennis buddies of more than 25 years, John Anderson and Jim Beyer envisioned a better way to teach kids and adults how to be safe, skilled drivers. They founded Centerpoint Driving Academy (CDA) 3 1/2 years ago with the confidence that their combined professional experience would garner big results. Anderson, who runs a software company, brought innovative, student-friendly technology to the table, while Beyer, who has a background as a school psychologist and driving instructor, brought crucial people skills and technical know-how.
Since its founding, CDA has doubled its business every year, and its students enjoy a first-time road test pass rate of 92 percent, Beyer says, compared to a state average in the low 70s. In terms of student satisfaction, CDA boasts 83 five-star reviews on Google, for an average rating of 4.9.
Anderson, a Hopkinton resident of 25 years whose five children took a competitor’s driving course, saw room for improvement in the industry. One of the features that makes CDA different from other schools is that students learn to drive in SUVs, which Anderson says are 50 percent safer than sedans, per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. With many households already using SUVs, practicing in a full-size vehicle is also a practical choice, Anderson says.
Anderson and Beyer also saw that the industry failed to teach “real-world skills” beyond the content of a driving exam, and so they developed a class called Life Skills, which is free for all students and their families who enroll in the SUV package. Anderson recalls getting a call years ago from his daughter, who asked him to meet her at a local convenience store. “It was 10 below, and she wanted me to teach her how to put air in her tire,” he says. “I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ ”
CDA’s Life Skills class teaches students about tires, oil changes and check-engine lights, but it also covers what to do if you have an accident and how to respond if you are stopped by an officer. Lessons like these are “fundamental,” says Anderson.
At the end of each lesson, CDA also sends evaluations to both students and parents to help monitor their progress. Unlike other facilities that only serve youth, CDA also offers driving lessons for adults.
For Anderson and Beyer, the most rewarding part of the business is seeing the joy on a student’s face when they pass their driving test on the first attempt. As one parent said in a Google review: “My daughter had been in a bad accident a year and a half before. … As a result, she was an unusually nervous driver. Jim was incredibly reassuring; she left her lessons with so much more confidence. Not only did she pass the road test on the first try, she’s also a skilled, calm driver.”
To learn more, visit centerpointdrivingacademy.com or call 508-217-4447. CDA offers pickup services from a student’s home or high school, and CDA’s facility is located at 31 Granite Street, Suite 4, Milford.
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