Learning to drive is different in New York City, and it’s especially intense at Akademia Driving School, recently profiled by the New York Times. Owner Leoni Pimentel guides his students through the obstacle course of city traffic with varying degrees of success. Pimintel told the Times that his students would crash “every half hour” without the safety net of his emergency brakes.

Unlike the spacious calm of suburban areas, East Harlem isn’t a place for aspiring drivers to slowly practice their parallel parking. They have to blend into traffic immediately and seamlessly, while watching out for cyclists, speeding cabs, buses, stubborn pedestrians, animals and even kids with water balloons. Not to mention…

Beware “Zombieland,” around the intersection of 125th Street and Lexington Avenue, which is known to attract drug addicts who make for erratic walkers.

The Times notes that a “Student Driver” sign singles them out for special abuse. The state only requires supervised driving practice to those under 18, but many older students feel it’s necessary, before heading out on the roads themselves. Driving instructor Santiago Reyes has some sage advice for his students:

“Are you one of those who stops for the pigeons?” Mr. Reyes asked 19-year-old Felicia Morales, sensing her hesitation. “Pigeons move.”

(Image: Wikipedia)