Tire Rack's hands-on instruction program gives teenagers driving skills needed to arrive alive.
Every year, some 5,000 teenagers die in motor vehicle crashes, the leading killer of American youths aged 16 to 19, accounting for more than 40 percent of fatalities in that age bracket. To reduce that number, Tire Rack Street Survival has developed a non-profit, national driver education program aimed at teaching teens the skills they need to stay alive behind the wheel.
While traditional novice-driver education programs are based on classroom theory and simple maneuvers, Tire Rack Street Survival (www.streetsurvival.org) improves driver competence through hands-on experiences in real-world driving situations. Teenagers learn from experienced and knowledgeable driving instructors how their actions govern a car's responses, what their vehicle's limitations are, and how to avoid accidents entirely. Unlike other advanced driving schools, students learn using the vehicle they will drive most, so skills can be directly translated to their own daily driving experiences. Street Survival is unique in that it offers students instruction in their own cars so that they learn their own limitations in their own everyday vehicle.
Street Survival is built upon the premise that 'safe driving is learned by doing', and teaches students to avoid accidents by thinking and looking ahead. Despite more teens dying in car crashes than by drugs or violence, driver's ed is still a low priority among most schools and parents," says Bill Wade, National Program Manager, Tire Rack Street Survival. "Handing the keys to an improperly trained driver endangers not only the teens but others on the road as well. Street Survival's goal is to prepare young drivers for the hazards they will face on the road and how to deal with them in a safe, effective manner."
Though most driving schools require students to make their way to a
fixed location like a race track, Tire Rack Street Survival brings the
school to the students. Working with the BMW Car Club of America,
Sports Car Club of America, and other like-minded enthusiast
organizations, the Tire Rack Street Survival program utilizes local
volunteers to support a national program. Thanks to an abundance of
orange traffic cones, large parking lots are turned into speed-limited
training courses where students can learn how to properly use their own
cars based on the physics of car control. They learn how their own cars
feel and sound just before and as they exceed the limits of tire
adhesion in a controlled situation, helping them to avoid accidents in
actual everyday driving situations where they might experience
problems. The students experience each exercise element several times,
in order to learn from their mistakes and to improve their skills. A
trained driving coach accompanies each driver to provide real-time
feedback while performing maneuvers. There is no stopwatch, nor
head-to-head competition with other cars.
"This is a first-class example of communities coming together to make life safer for everyone," says Matt Edmonds, Vice President of The Tire Rack. "We're helping bring Street Survival to as many cities as often as possible to reduce the number of unnecessary teenage driver deaths."
Formed by the BMW Car Club of America Foundation (www.bmwccafoundation.org), the Street Survival safe teen driving program (www.streetsurvival.org) was launched in April 2002 with the help of several corporate sponsors. At least 50 weekend classes have been planned in cities and towns across the United States in 2007, with more anticipated in years to come. They generally run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and are open to permitted and licensed drivers ages 16 - 21. The cost is $60 per student and some insurance companies may offer premium discounts to graduates. A schedule and registration forms can be found at www.streetsurvival.org. Be sure to check the schedule to find out when one of these Street Survival driving programs will be near you!
Also, students, parents, and community leaders may request a Tire Rack Street Survival school come to their neighborhood by visiting www.streetsurvival.org and filling out the request form.
For more information, visit www.streetsurvival.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 864-329-1919.
by Brandy Schaffels
Contributing editor and mother of a son nearing driving age.