Ah, summer, that time of year when lots of teenagers experience that crucial rite of passage — getting their driver's license.

Ah, summer, that time of year when lots of teenagers experience that crucial rite of passage — getting their driver's license.

But here's a word of warning to all you teens: If you don't already have a road-test appointment, chances are you won't be behind the wheel unsupervised before you head back to school in September.

According to state Department of Motor Vehicle statistics, the normal lag time for getting an appointment — three to five weeks — increases to as much as 10 weeks during peak demand times, like summer and other school recesses.

But before you grumble at the DMV, take a little pity on them. They only have so many examiners to go around.

Spokesman Ken Brown said in the DMV's Mid-Hudson District, which includes Orange, Sullivan, Dutchess and Putnam counties, there are just six full-time examiners, plus three seasonal ones who help handle the higher volume during busy months, from about April to October.

They gave 30,700 exams in fiscal 2008-09, or about 590 a week.

Ulster County is in the Capital District, a 14-county district that has nine full-time examiners, plus 3.5 seasonal examiners during peak times. They gave nearly 35,000 exams in fiscal 2008-09, or an average of 673 a week.

Brown said they don't break down figures between first-time road test-takers and repeat customers, but about 28 percent in the Mid-Hudson District and almost 35 percent in the Capital District failed in 2008-09.

So given those statistics — more than one in four failing in the district that includes Orange and Sullivan counties, between three and four out of 10 failing in the district that includes Ulster — while you're waiting for that appointment, it might be a good idea to take a few more practice rides with whoever's teaching you.

Some local driving-school instructors say you need to put certain myths out of your mind when you approach a road test, such as the perception that examiners grade tougher on certain groups of people.

"If (the person taking the road test is) old, they say, 'He failed me because I'm old,'" said Gene Piaquadio, who runs the Automobile Driving Club of Orange & Dutchess County and has 48 years of experience teaching drivers. "If they're young, they say, 'He failed me because I'm young.' If they're a woman, they say, 'He failed me because I'm a woman.'"

What's the most difficult part of the road test? John Connolly, who owns the American Driving School in Lake Katrine and marked 25 years in the field last September, says for most, it's parallel parking, though he claims to have "a simple technique" to help his students ace that maneuver.

Piaquadio and Connolly both say passing a road test is easy as long as you're in the right frame of mind and you can rise above whatever nervousness you're feeling.

Word is, the test also is shorter and easier than it used to be.

For example, today's teens, unlike their parents and grandparents, don't need to learn some things now regarded as obsolete, like the hand signals for right and left turns and stopping, Connolly said.

"The only hand signals people know today are the ones they use when somebody cuts them off," Connolly said.