Young drivers on Saturday had the opportunity to learn how to operate their vehicles in a variety of intense situations with experienced drivers providing instruction. It was part of Street Survival, a traveling safe driving program for teens sponsored by Tire Rack, hosted at the Regional Public Safety Training Center.
Behind the wheels of a large variety of vehicles, the teen drivers maneuvered through challenging situations like the slalom and driving at speed on wet cement. The sound of tires screeching echoed through the smoke covered hills.
Parents watched from behind a protective cement wall, exhibiting various levels of excitement and concern.
Learning how to handle intense driving situations wasn’t the only activity though. Young drivers also received demonstrations on the limited visibility of large trucks and the explosive force behind airbags. The class emphasized real world experience over classroom lecture.
“Teens learn more about controlling their specific 2,000 lb. vehicle at speed than classroom theory and parallel parking,” a program spokesperson said. The hands-on experience in the students’ own cars and during potentially dangerous situations is said to better prepare them to handle real-world driving.
The Sparks event was the first of 18 that will be offered nationwide this year after taking 2020 off due to COVID-19.
Bill Wade, the program’s director, said teen safety behind the wheel is especially important right now.
“As more families take road trips, businesses reopen and schools return to normal this fall, more young drivers will be behind the wheel,” Wade said. “And, after a year of safety precautions and limited travel, teens are likely to take risks they may not normally take. It is vitally important that these drivers are equipped with all of the tools they need to be safe drivers.”
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration documented more than 2,000 fatalities in crashes involving teen drivers in 2019. NHTSA officials also note that lack of knowledge about rules of the road aren’t the cause of most teen driving accidents.
“Studies show teens are involved in crashes as a result of inexperience and risk-taking. Teen drivers, particularly 16- and 17-year-olds, have high fatal crash rates because of their immaturity and limited driving experience,” according to NHTSA’s website.
Ty O’Neil is a lifelong student of anthropology with two degrees in the arts. He is far more at home in the tear gas filled streets of war torn countries than he is relaxing at home. He has found a place at This Is Reno as a photojournalist. He hopes to someday be a conflict photojournalist covering wars and natural disasters abroad.