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Exploring an Abandoned Soviet Driving School

The Soviet Union, known for its rigorous and systematic approach to education and training, established a comprehensive network of driving schools to equip its citizens with the necessary skills to navigate the country’s extensive road network. These driving schools were not merely institutions for learning how to operate a vehicle; they were an integral part of the Soviet education system and preparation for army service, reflecting the values and priorities of the era. This article will provide a brief overview of what driving classes and posters looked like in the USSR.


Earlier, this place was discovered by G. Mattu, who guided me there. A lot has changed since then; the place was being renovated and soon it will vanish forever. However, with my camera, I tried to immortalize as much as I could during the brief time the guard allowed us to stay inside.


During the Soviet era, the expansion of road infrastructure and the growing number of vehicles necessitated a well-organized system for driver education. The state recognized the importance of safe and efficient transportation for both civilian and military purposes. As a result, driving schools were established across the Soviet Union, often operated by state-owned organizations and deeply integrated into the broader educational framework.


The journey to a Soviet driver's license began in classrooms. Here, students spent countless hours immersed in the theoretical aspects of driving. Posters, filled with diagrams and traffic regulations, were gospel. Instructors, often veterans of the road themselves, drilled students on traffic signs, vehicle mechanics, and the intricate rules of the road.

All driving schools in the USSR were state-owned and operated under the auspices of DOSAAF (Volunteer Society for Cooperation with the Army, Aviation, and Fleet), district military commissariats, or centralized automotive training complexes (TsAUK) for the training or retraining of professional drivers. Driver training was also included in the school curriculum for senior grades, either within the secondary school itself or in vocational training centers.


Any willing member of DOSAAF could attend a driving school affiliated with this military-sport organization. The district military commissariats trained future recruits in driving motor vehicles, preparing them for compulsory military service, such as in motorized troops. Automotive training complexes were typically located in large or capital cities, where employers would send professional drivers to obtain a license for a different vehicle category or to receive training or retraining for handling vehicles carrying hazardous loads.


In addition to learning traffic regulations, driving theory, and practical driving skills, students in driving schools studied vehicle mechanics and the elimination of minor malfunctions.


Posters were scattered everywhere...

However, the fall of the Soviet Union brought significant changes. Many driving schools were privatized or closed, and the rigorous standards of the past gave way to more varied approaches in the newly independent states. Despite these changes, the legacy of Soviet driving schools remains evident in the continued emphasis on thorough driver education in many former Soviet republics.


Posters, such as these I saw in this abandoned driving school, were common. They illustrated traffic signs, driving techniques, and safety measures, serving as visual aids to reinforce the theoretical knowledge imparted in the classroom.

One can only imagine how cool this place looked in those times...

Soviet driving schools were more than just places to learn how to drive; they were institutions that embodied the values of discipline, thoroughness, and public safety. While the Soviet Union is now a part of history, the impact of its driving education system continues to be felt, reminding us of an era when the journey to becoming a driver was a path marked by rigorous training and high standards.

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