Before You Buy Your Teen a Safe Car, Invest in Safe Driving Skills

Ford Teen Driving

We’re in the midst of National Teen Driver Safety Week, which runs through Oct. 24. That gives us a great reason to point out the variety of opportunities available for your teens to get into an advanced driver-safety program thanks to companies like Kia, Ford, and BMW.

John F. Paul, a AAA spokesman in New England, says these programs can be invaluable for young teen drivers. And don’t worry. Just like teaching martial arts doesn’t make a teen a fighter, advanced safety driving schools don’t make young drivers over-confident in their abilities. As Paul points out, kids are less likely to drive recklessly after taking one of these courses.

Startling statistics demonstrate why these courses are so important. According to Paul, 50 percent of teen drivers will be involved in some kind of accident within their first 6 months of driving.

Many will get killed, too. Kia said in a news release for the advanced driving school it supports that on average 8 teens lose their lives every day in vehicle crashes, which is approximately 3,000 teens per year. Another 300,000 are injured annually.

In conjunction with National Teen Driver Safety Week, B.R.A.K.E.S.‘ professional instructors provide 4 hours of intensive hands-on defensive driving education for hundreds of teens in the U.S., adding to the more than 17,000 teens nationwide that have graduated from B.R.A.K.E.S. since 2008. Instruction includes a distracted driving exercise, emergency braking using the antilock braking system (ABS), evasive maneuvering, and skid-control practice. Kia is the official vehicle and presenting sponsor of the B.R.A.K.E.S. Teen Pro-Active Driving School and provides a fleet of 32 new vehicles for the students and parents to drive during the training.

The B.R.A.K.E.S. charity’s free advanced driver training is on the road through the holidays:

  • Concord, North Carolina, Oct. 24–25
  • New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire, Oct. 31–Nov. 1
  • zMax Dragway in Concord, North Carolina, Nov. 14–15
  • Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Georgia, Nov. 21–22
  • zMax Dragway in Concord, North Carolina, Dec. 5–6
  • Fairplex in Pomona, California, Dec. 19–20

Registration for the lifesaving B.R.A.K.E.S. Teen Pro-Active Driving School instruction is open now at PutOnTheBrakes.org/Schedule.

“What they do is offer a combination of more in-depth driving skills than a conventional driving school can offer,” said Paul. Conventional driving schools are good at teaching the rules of the road and some of the basics. As Paul observed, they are mostly designed to get teens their driver’s license (you know, just like some public schools teach to the tests to get the best scores on standardized tests possible).

The advanced driving schools are designed to teach novice drivers about ABS, safe following and why you need to maintain it, as well as the dangers of distracted driving. “Things you’re not going to typically do in a driving school or the real world. You do it in the real world, you’ll get in a crash,” Paul said.

The Ford Driving Skills for Life was established in 2003 by Ford Motor Company Fund, the Governors Highway Safety Association, and a panel of safety experts to teach newly licensed teens the necessary skills for safe driving beyond what they learn in standard driver education programs. Its Events Schedule lets you register to be notified when programs are taking place near you.

The BMW Teen Driving School is a grassroots initiative under the company’s corporate social-responsibility program combining teens, road safety, and local community outreach. It’s a recent extension of the teen curriculum taught at the BMW Performance Center located in Spartanburg, SC. The driving school travels to locations nationwide and is offered to teenagers and young drivers at no cost. Eligible drivers, ages 15–21, must possess a valid learner’s permit or driver’s license to register for the school. Information on its school, which isn’t free, is available at the BMW website.

How did you learn to drive when you were a teen? Have you attended any sort of driving school?

-Keith Griffin

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