About Us

    "People joke that I'm either very brave or crazy to teach teens how to drive!"

Hello, my name is Dan Black. In 2011, my wife, Bea, and I started Top Gear Driving School to better serve the citizens of the Columbia Gorge. Our mission is to provide the best possible training for both youth and adult students in traffic safety.  We strive to teach students how to be safe drivers in diverse driving environments, not to simply prepare students to pass the Department of Licensing tests.  We provide the best traffic safety training available at an affordable and competitive price.

A new feature available began December 1, 2012 is testing previously only provided at the D. O.L.  The Washington State Department of Licensing has now authorized driving schools to give the knowledge and driving(skills) tests to students and adults .  This service started in King County and is now available throughout the state.  With state cut backs, and the growing baby boomer population needing testing, state agencies have a hard time scheduling enough drive test times. We offer this service by appointment only.  As the need increases we will add specific hours for this service.  Feel free to call 360-975-2799 for more information.

    I love teaching!

I have been teaching driver training for over 20 years. I started teaching drivers education part time at Washougal High School. Next, I taught drivers education part time at Stevenson High School beginning in 2006 until 2009 when the program was discontinued. Later, I taught at a driving school in Camas prior to starting Top Gear Driving School in Stevenson. 

I spent most of my life in the grocery business climbing the corporate ladder in store management. I was also a sales representative for a large snack food company for 2 years.  I have has always wanted my own business, but never really felt a passion for anything until teaching traffic safety.  When the schools discontinued offering the course, it was time to start my own business.  I love to teach. I love the feeling that every teacher feels when a student succeeds.


I received my initial driving instructor training at Central Washington University while earning a Bachelors degree in elementary education. In 1992 I graduated with endorsements in Elementary Education K-8, Reading K-12 and Drivers Education. I taught grades 3,4 and 5 at Cape Horn-Skye School in the Washougal School District.  In addition, I taught Driver's Education in Washougal and Stevenson-Carson School Districts, and a driving school in Camas.  I have also been a substitute teacher in several school districts at all grade levels since graduating from C. W. U.  However, I am kept busy enough now that I do not have time for substitute teaching.

    Why I love what I do

I love teaching and preparing our youth to be safe and efficient drivers. When I tell people what I do, many people joke that I am either very brave or crazy for wanting to get in a car with teenagers. Some have even told me I should be wearing a helmet!  Our sheriff calls me the bravest man in Skamania County.  I love the experience. I have the opportunity to get to know youth in a different setting. Each student is unique and learns differently.  I love the challenge that this provides. I also love helping students consider what the future holds for them.  I never had someone to mentor me at their age.  If we are able, I will often ask what students would like to do for a living when they get out on their own.  Many have no idea. So, I try to steer them to things they may enjoy.  Others have already decided and have a plan.  it is refreshing to see how students plan to use their unique talents and abilities to change the world. 

I have also taught adults the skills needed to be safe and efficient drivers. Some have been new drivers who have had a desire to get a license, while others have been drivers who have needed some extra training and instruction in order to pass the driving test at the Department of Licensing.  Others come to determine whether they should give up their driving privileges.  Each one is a challenge.  Each one has changed my life for the better.

Why choose Top Gear Driving School                                                 

You may not have given much thought to choosing driving instruction for your student, but in my mind it should be something not taken lightly.  Like some parents, I went through driver's education in the school system.  I also taught driver's education in the school system in 2 school districts.  I have also taught in another driving school before starting Top Gear Driving School.

I would like to share some facts for you to consider while you as a parent determine which driving instruction to choose for your student.  When I went through driver's education many years ago it was taught in the schools and funded by state and federal government.  That went away many years ago.  Driver's education was taught by the football coach, or other coaches and teachers as an after school program to make extra money.  Most teachers didn't have any particular interest other than an extra paycheck.  It was a time to grade papers while showing movies.  Our state had a simulator where we watched a movie where a kid would kick a ball out into the street and then retrieve it.  We as students were to watch the video and respond as appropriate since we had a steering wheel, brake, gear shift and gas peddle.  If for some reason our simulator station did not function correctly, we were told to just watch the movie.  My first drive with an instructor was on the freeway.  I am not sure why the instructor chose that since he didn't know me.  He hadn't even taught the classroom portion. Lucky for him and me, I had driven on a ranch for 2 summers so I had the skills necessary.  The driving that I do with students begin at lower level driving skills and each drive builds on the previous one.  The schools also had students drive for 15 minutes while 3 other students observed.  Then they would count it as 1 hour per student.  This didn't give students much driving experience.

When I was asked to teach in the school system in Washougal and Stevenson I found that there was no oversight of the program.  I never had an administrator or anyone from the state  approve my course.  There was no oversight as to what was being taught in the classroom, or on driving lessons.  There was no required curriculum.  I developed my own curriculum and tests because of the training received at Central Washington University.

Since I am a certified teacher, and endorsed by both Central Washington University to teach driver's education, trained and tested by the State of Washington, trained as a Certified Trainer, trained as an Examiner for the State of Washington to test drivers prior to obtaining their license, this makes me more than just a teacher who runs an after school program.  For me this is a passion.  I love getting in the car with my students trying to hone their skills so they can become safe drivers.  I teach students skills both in the classroom and the car that help them see the dangers ahead as drivers.  I teach the required material plus more.  I use personal experiences that help to bring instruction and learning to a more personal level so students are able to internalize the concepts and skills.  My goal with each student on each drive is to get them to a predetermined level so they will be prepared for the next lesson.  If parents do their part by working with the student on the skills learned, students will progress as expected.

As a parent, I believe that convenience is not a good reason to choose a driver's education program.  Proper teaching, patience and making sure expectations are met are essential.  Driver's Education should not be just a class required to get a license.  Students should learn the skills that they can carry throughout their lives to drive safely.  Getting a license is not a right.  It's a privilege.  Safe driver's understand that always being alert , and doing their best driving every time is the way to keep from being in a crash and becoming a statistic.