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Street Survival teaches young drivers skills such as skid control and braking hard yet safely.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
To operate a motor vehicle in Virginia, young people must pass a state-approved driver’s education course and drive 45 hours with an adult.
Is that enough? A group of fast car enthusiasts says no.
Roanoke-area car clubs have announced a skill-building course for new drivers ages 15 to 21 in Salem next month. They are bringing in Street Survival , a traveling driving school that offers a supplement to state-required training. It boasts 10,000 youth graduates over 11 years, according to its website.
The nonprofit school, based in Greenville, S.C., is operated by the BMW Car Club of America Foundation and gets funding from TireRack.com , an Indiana tire testing company and vendor of tires, wheels and performance accessories.
Bill Hume , a Roanoke architect, Porsche Club of America member and event registrar, said the “very basic” training the state requires falls short of imparting all the skills needed to handle the riskiest situations that come up in traffic.
“This takes it to the next level,” said Hume, 47 .
For $75 a head, participants are taught to control a skid, steer back from the shoulder and brake hard safely, course materials say. They will undergo exercises such as “emergency lane change management” and run an obstacle course.
Each student provides his or her own vehicle. All events will be staged on the grounds of Salem Civic Center.
The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office supports the supplemental training as a way to curb traffic fatalities, according to a statement. It advises parents: “All of the exercises will be done at a low speed with an experienced instructor in the car with them.”
National program manager Bill Wade , 54, of Kentucky , said he got involved when the program began in 2002, as his daughter was starting to drive, because of “my terror over the lack of formal driver education that my state required for her to get a license.”
Each local host is responsible for clearing people from the area where instruction will occur, Wade said. Instructors must have experience as racers or drivers of high-performance cars and undergo training by Street Survival, he said. Many are pulled from the ranks of amateur drivers in each city where the event is held, who own high-performance vehicles that they drive on tracks in their spare time, he said.
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles says driver safety is a priority.
Virginia issues first-time drivers a learner’s permit at 15 1⁄ 2 years old . With it, they are allowed to drive with an adult in the front passenger seat. To obtain a permanent license, they must hold a permit for nine months, complete an approved driver’s education course of 36 class periods and 14 periods with an instructor in a vehicle, seven of them driving, and drive 45 hours with an adult, 15 of them at night.
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