Last weekend I took my new driver teenage son to Connecticut to participate in a "Street Survival" course to gain knowledge and confidence...mission accomplished.
The program is sponsored by the Tire Rack, and is only $75.00 for an all day, intensive, hands on experience. You can visit www.streetsurvival.org for more information, and to see the schedule of upcoming courses. They limit the program to about 30 young drivers, who are each assigned their own driving instructor for the day. The instructors typically have some type of racing experience, and they accompany the new drivers in the car while going through some intense exercises on a closed course. The new drivers use their own cars during the drills, and the essence of the course is to teach them what their cars can and can't do under extreme situations. They are also taught great defensive driving lessons. These included tips on predicting what other drivers may do, creating a space "bubble" around your car, looking further ahead and not just at the car in front of you, constantly scanning the road and area around you, and what to do when different scenarios suddenly come up. They also went over proper seating positions, mirror adjustments to avoid blind spots, as well as use of the steering wheel. There was about 2 hours of classroom discussion, and the rest of the day was spent on the track. Out on the track they had the new drivers performing skid pad drills, where they would accelerate quickly and suddenly apply the brakes hard to make the car skid. They also had them drive fast in a circle to feel the car skidding and sliding. Then they soaped and watered the circle for some real sliding! There was a sudden lane change drill where they had to accelerate quickly and then turn suddenly in the opposite direction of a flagman. Then they hit the slalom, where they had to quickly maneuver their cars through strategically placed cones. Each driver was able to go through each of the drills about 4-6 times to gain confidence and to get a real feel for the different situations. As a dad and spectator, it was great to see my son and the other drivers get better as the day progressed. I know my son learned more in this one course than he did all Summer in Driver's Ed. I took many videos of the different drills, and I would be happy to share some if you are interested in seeing exactly what goes on at this course. You can just send me a request at firstname.lastname@example.org, please include your name and address.
As a lawyer that has been handling serious car accident claims in Suffolk and Nassau County on Long Island for more than 25 years, I can tell you that this course should be mandatory for all drivers. The roads on Long Island are crowded, fast, confusing, and dangerous for new drivers. We all know that the Driver's Education classes don't properly prepare our kids for driving on today's roads , they just teach the very minimal basics which just aren't enough. The Street Survival course gives new drivers and edge to stay safe, and I encourage every parent to have their new driver participate in this course.
Keep it safe out there.
Mark T. Freeley, Esq.