This past weekend, at our headquarters in South Bend, Indiana, we celebrated a milestone that we’re pretty proud of: the 1,000th Tire Rack Street Survival class! Through the efforts of volunteers, members of the BMW Car Club of America, SCCA, the National Corvette Club of America and the Porsche Club of America, this achievement was made possible. While we would like to say thank you for spending your Saturday mornings with teen drivers, we know the biggest thanks come directly from those teens and their parents for helping make them better, safer drivers. As our vice president, Matt Edmonds said, “When they get behind the wheel of a vehicle, under-prepared teen drivers pose a risk to themselves, their passengers and other drivers on the road. Tire Rack Street Survival ensures that new and inexperienced drivers have the real-world training they need. The curriculum goes far beyond what any student in a traditional driver education program will learn. Ultimately, the training these teens receive not only makes them safer, but it makes our country’s roads safer.”
In a Tire Rack Street Survival school, students use their own cars to learn their vehicle’s handling limits and how to control it, while gaining hands-on experience in real-world situations.
The purpose is to go beyond today’s required driving classes and have trained, qualified in-car driving instructors train each student. “Since our very first class in 2002, we have educated more than 21,000 young drivers about the maintenance needs of their vehicles and the maneuvers that will keep them safe in emergency situations,’ said Bill Wade, national program manager for Tire Rack Street Survival. “This is our 15th year and we’re moving forward with new classes faster than ever.” With an average of 100 classes a year, this statement rings strong as this year there will be close to 125 classes held across the country.
Licensed and permitted drivers between the ages of 15 and 21 are eligible for the program. This program is about more than driving; it’s about living. To achieve this, each student goes through several exercises to better learn their vehicle’s capabilities. In one part of the program, the course is wet down to allow the student to experience “mistakes” at a very slow speed. There is also a slalom exercise where students are challenged on a driving course created in a controlled area to allow him/her to experience abnormal care behavior and teach them how to handle the situation. The final two exercises consist of a lane change maneuver to avoid an accident, and an ABS exercise to perform threshold braking. Along with all this, students will see demos on how to view objects in their blindspot, an airbag deployment to show the impact of an airbag going off and a demonstration with a UPS truck to understand the importance of sharing the road with semis.
There are still several classes available this year. And, as always, if there is not one near you, you can a request a school for your area.