Real-life course helps teens put the brakes on bad driving habits

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Car crashes are the leading cause of death for American teenagers. More than 5,000 teens die each year and another 196,000 are injured, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than two dozen teens took the Tire Rack Street Survival course Saturday at Sun Motor Cars BMW in hopes of preventing another tragedy. The non-profit organization teaches new drivers real-life skills often not learned in driving schools with a professional instructor guiding them inside the vehicle.

“At first when I hit the cones, I was a little bit nervous, like, oh no! I hit the cones, but then I saw that everybody else was hitting cones,” said 16-year-old Lauren Novosat, who traveled to the event from Lancaster.

“Well, I thought better a cone than a person,” Lauren’s dad Dean Novosat said with a chuckle.

Lauren got her driving permit in June.

“At first I was really nervous to come here because I really wasn’t sure what my skill level would be in comparison to everybody else,” Lauren said.

Ken Trayer served as Lauren’s instructor and said she became much more confident behind the wheel as the day went on.

“She just blossomed. It was one of the best transitions I’ve ever seen,” said Trayer, the director of Street Survival Nittany Bimmers.

The teens learn how to avoid obstacles, navigate sharp turns, and avoid losing control at higher speeds.

“We give them instruction in the classroom, which teaches them the fundamentals and dynamics of a vehicle, and then we bring them outside and run them through, during the day, six different driving exercises,” Trayer said.

“A tractor trailer that weighs 80,000 pounds at 55 miles per hour takes a football field to stop,” said Daryl Miller, a truck driver with Lift, Inc.

“They had cars parked around the tractor trailer, and you couldn’t even see them when you were sitting in the driver’s seat,” Lauren said.

The course includes a skid pad with 20 gallons of soap and water to teach young drivers like Lauren Novosat how to avoid hydroplaning.

“I feel much more at ease. I think she can handle herself better,” Dean Novosat said. “She knows what to expect when she encounters certain situations on the road.”

The young drivers who pass get a certificate at the end of the class. Many insurance companies will offer a discount on rates for having it.

Tire Rack Street Survival will return to Cumberland County next year.


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