Tire Rack Street Survival, in conjunction with the Reno Region of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), held a Teen Survival Driving school at Reno/Stead Airport on May 5th.
Seventeen students attended, and with both classroom and behind the wheel instruction they discovered not only the limits of their cars but also what to do to safely regain control once that limit had been breached. Skid pad – both wet and dry – runs showed them how their cars handled at the limits of adhesion, and their in-car instructors taught them the correct way to recover without over-controlling.
Next it was on to an emergency braking zone – once again both wet and dry – so they could feel the car’s brakes in panic stops, and receive instruction in coming to a controlled stop under maximum braking even while turning and on a wet surface.
After more classroom instruction it was back onto the track to run through a slalom course at speed; the object here was to show the students how a car would behave if driven through a series of quick left/right turns, while avoiding hitting any of the cones marking the course.
The in-car instructors showed them how to keep the car under control without over-correcting the skids, and as the speeds went up so did the students confidence. Soon they were getting through the slalom at speed while keeping the car under complete control and missing the cones. Then it was on to the most popular element: the emergency lane change.
Going about 40 MPH they approached three different lanes, at the last second their instructor would yell out which lane they had to take and they needed to quickly swerve into it to avoid running down a wall of cones. At first there were lots of squealing tires and knocked down cones, but as the students became more self-assured the speedy lane change become almost second nature to them, they learned to quickly avoid whatever would have been in front of them and maneuver the car into a different path without over-correcting or losing control.
The final part of the day was combining all the elements into a mini-road course and letting the students take their parents for a few quick laps. By the end of the day there were smiling faces all around, happy parents who felt better about letting the kids hit the roads on their own, and 17 teen drivers who were better prepared for any situation they might face behind the wheel.