Course puts teen drivers in real-world scenarios

Photos by Daniel Vasta/The Herald
Student driver Adam Link, 16, of Henderson, Ky., participates in a hands-on driving course during Tire Rack Street Survival Teen Driving School at Jasper Engines and Transmissions on Saturday.


JASPER — Sports car clubs from across Kentucky and Southern Indiana came together in Jasper on Saturday to help combat the leading cause of death for teens in the United States.

Tire Rack Street Survival Teen Driving School, a one-day driving school program that focuses on hands-on learning, was hosted at Jasper Engines and Transmissions for the first time ever.

The program, sponsored by sports car clubs across the country, is in its 15th year. Over 10 schools were completed last year and around 20,000 drivers have been trained since the program’s inception in 2004.

The program started because many sports car clubs and BMW enthusiasts didn’t like the lack of training for young drivers.

“I think it’s a very good program to be able to help young kids out to learn how to drive and maneuver around obstacles as they may appear in the road,” said Stacey Metz of Jasper, a Street Survival instructor.

Tire Rack Street Survival is the country’s largest nonprofit driver education program. It separates itself from other driver’s education programs by improving driver competence through real-world driving situations. It teaches students emergency braking and skid controls, how to control proper braking and how to avoid accidents entirely.

Student driver Nicholas Crandell, 16, of Louisville, Ky., participates in a hands-on driving course meant to teach the dangers of texting and driving during Tire Rack Street Survival Teen Driving School at Jasper Engines and Transmissions on Saturday.

“As a new driver, it can be intimidating, but this course really helped me gain confidence on the road and it helped me personally to feel I could control and see what is going on around me,” said Nicholas Crandell of Louisville, Kentucky.

Crandell, 16, said his favorite part was the driving course because it tested the limits of the car and helped him maximize the controls in tight situations.

He was one of 12 students to sign up for Saturday’s class, despite the 30-student capacity.

“We are a little bummed by the school count but we understand that sometimes people like to see it first before they get involved,” said Scott Dobler II, national coordinator of Tire Rack Street Survival. “We hope the second one fills up.”

Students even drove over 500 pounds of cracked corn to simulate sliding on the road.

They were taught in their own cars. Dobler said this is because the skills they learn can be directly translated to their daily driving experiences.

“All cars are different,” he said. “We want the driver to get in touch with their car so they know what to expect.”

In 2016, 2,433 teens ages 16 to 19 were killed from motor vehicle crashes and another 292,742 were treated for injuries. They accounted for 8.4% of total motor vehicle injury costs, despite only representing 6.5% of the population.

Dobler said drivers start out nervous at the start of the program, but they quickly begin to feel confident behind the wheel.

“The difference is amazing,” he said. “It’s why I keep doing it.”

The program is open to licensed and permitted drivers between the ages of 15 and 21. Sign-up forms can be found online at The next session will be held June 22 in Mason, Ohio. The cost is $95 per student.

SCCA National Coordinator at Tire Rack Street Survival Scott Dobler of Topeka, Kan., right, speaks to a student driver and their instructor during Tire Rack Street Survival Teen Driving School at Jasper Engines and Transmissions on Saturday.

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