In fact, motor vehicles are the number one killer of American teenagers. According to statistics, someone is killed by a teenage driver every thirty-one minutes and every sixty-six minutes by a drunk driver. Pessimists - 1 point, Optimists - 0. To avoid these stats, it seems that one simply has to be a ‘better driver.’ But how? The obvious answer today would to be to take a Driver’s Ed class. It is true- Driver’s Ed is a great way to increase your confidence as a driver and learn the basic rules for the side-streets and highways, but what about when you have questions on air-pressure for tires? How do you deal with the drunk driver heading towards you going 80 miles per hour on a side street?
It is real life situations such as these that no one is prepared for during Driver’s Ed with your high school history teacher as the instructor. When it comes to driving, you should receive instruction from the best - the professionals, and that is what “Driver’s Edge,” a non-profit organization, supplies to numerous states in America. Jeff Payne (founder) and Steve Tepper (president), along with numerous highly acknowledged professional drivers travel with the “Driver’s Edge” to one state per weekend and administer completely free sessions of driving lessons. Each session has a course of four lessons that deal heavily with defensive-driving, automobile maintenance knowledge, and driving law enforcement.
“We are not taught how to drive, we are taught how to pass a test,” stated Jeff Payne at the 2011 “Driver’s Edge” event in Phoenix. At the beginning of the class, he had all the participants take a pre-test - one of the tasks being to rate their driving skill on a scale of 1 to 10. (1 being poor, 10 being excellent) Arrogantly, almost all the teenagers answered 7 through 10. Opening the eyes of the Phoenix citizens, Jeff declared that no one in the room, except the professionals, were in the 7 to 10 range. At best, the teenagers were 3’s or 4’s while the adults were possibly 5’s or 6’s. These were not words coming from harsh bitterness, but words of reality.
To bring relief back to the crowd however, Jeff told everyone that it was no one particular person’s fault, simply a defect in the system that he and the rest of his staff were trying to fix. After the speech, the participants were brought outside to the Firebird International Raceway where brand new, high-performance, shiny BMW’s awaited them. All participants got to punch the gas, travel 200 feet on a wet street, and skid at a 90 degree angle! Anxious and scared teenagers watched and heard the engines rev and the tires screech loudly. While most participants entered the BMW’s nervously with faces appearing ready to vomit, they exited with smiles beaming and confidence radiating.
azTeen checked in with a few of the participants:
azTeen: What were you thinking about when you were behind the wheel and ready to go?
Participant 1: It’s scary, and it’s fun. And like, there’s a bunch of things going through your head at the same time like ‘Am I going to make it? What am I doing wrong?’ The main thing you’re doing though is reacting. You react more than you think.
azTeen: How did you feel at the end?
Participant 1: I was nervous [about] like turning in and turning out and trying not to skid...but [once you do it right] you get like a lot of confidence.
azTeen: Do you think this experience helped you for a potential real-life situation?
Participant 2: Oh yeah. Definitely because I mean, if that had happened to me in real life (skidding out) I would have had no idea of what I was supposed to do.
At the end of the event a parent commented on the program:
azTeen: Did you find the Driver’s Edge program helpful and well educating?
Parent: Yes! Definitely! Absolutely! (He was very enthusiastic)
azTeen: Would you recommend this course for others?
Parents: Yes, for sure.
Parents: Because it gives you knowledge and experience for real emergency situations that other places [Driver’s Ed courses] don’t teach you.
It is clearly shown that the non-profit “Driver’s Edge” organization is an extremely beneficial program for drivers. The owners and staff members are truly in it for the right reasons, and not only is it informative, but it is extremely fun! What other driving class can you think of where you train with professional drivers in shiny, new BMW’s skidding across the wet roads, yet be completely safe, and all for free?
To participate in the Driver’s Edge’s next events check out their website at www.driversedge.org and visit/like them on facebook. On their website, you can see when they will be coming back to Arizona, (they come annually, but are hoping to come twice a year next season) and you can register online in about 10 minutes, completely free. Don’t miss out on this once in a lifetime opportunity.
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