As experienced drivers, there are so many things we automatically do when driving a car. However, unless you have recently instructed a teen driver of your own on how to drive, it's hard to remember how clueless we all were when we started driving. On a hot Saturday at the end of July in Northern Virginia, the Potomac Chesapeake Chapter (PCC) of the Audi Club ran its first teen driving school in recent history to help educate our newest drivers.
Instead of reinventing the wheel, we decided to utilize the well-established "Street Survival" teen driving program. By aligning with this program, we were able to rely upon its national recognition to help draw students, instructors, and volunteers, along with its teaching materials, instructor training materials, and the parking lot and cones ordinarily used by this program in the Washington DC area. There were 42 students in attendance, with more on the wait list hoping to join. Supporting these students were 31 instructors and 10 volunteers. This event was all about educating teen drivers, and in addition to strong support from Audi Club members, instructors and volunteers also came from the Corvette Club, the Porsche Club, and the BMW club.
The students were split into two alternating groups, with one group attending a very interactive class while the other group was on-course. There were three exercises in the morning including a skidpad, slalom, and a combined braking/turning horse shoe, while the afternoon had an accident avoidance exercise, a skills course, and a figure-8 skidpad, half wet/half dry.
All involved with the driving school were very happy with how and what the students were taught. Here is what one instructor/parent, Chris Coulter, co-owner of PCC sponsor CoHo Automotive of Manassas VA had to say about the course:
“My son had a blast. I have done this event for the Audi Club many years ago as well as the Corvette Club. This was by far the most professional, efficient and effective one I have done. The classroom instruction was outstanding and the exercises in the field were excellent. Great idea to go from very basic in the morning to a bit more advanced in the afternoon. The best part was the instructors were not "testing out the track" and pimping out the whole racing thing. Top notch. Count me in for future events.”
And, from another parent who said the “the Street Survival School today was a huge success” and “believes that every new driver should have to take such a class - car handling, high speed lane changes, hard braking, skid pads, and more - all with an instructor in the vehicle with you (as opposed to your crazy nervous mother).” Long-time club-member Jim Kulbaski was motivated to start this course with the chapter after his daughter's friends were involved in two serious accidents. One of these accidents was due to inexperienced driving on a wet road, with the teen driver not appreciating the difference in tire grip on a wet road versus a dry road. The figure-8 exercise taught in the course emphasizes this difference in grip, with one loop of the eight being wet, and the other loop being dry.
Special thanks goes out to Rafael Garces of the National Capital Chapter of the BMW Club for helping us with everything needed to make our first school a success, and chapter member Kristin Talastas for making sure everything went smoothly throughout the registration process and organizing breakfast and lunch for 130 people. Also, a big thanks to Audi Hunt Valley, in Cockeysville, MD, for providing support which helped to defer the cost of running the event.
If you have a new driver in your family, please have him or her attend a teen driving school; it will have a very positive impact on their driving abilities.