NASA NorCal’s Car Control clinic at Thunderhill Raceway Park the day after Thanksgiving was a great opportunity for the region to have weekday access to the track on a date when many students had time off from school. For less than $100, students enrolled for a full day’s worth of classroom and driving exercises, and learned skills that could save their lives. Additionally, the course provided each student with a certificate that could lower their insurance rates. In terms of benefits versus cost, the NASA Car Control Clinic is a no-brainer every young driver should take advantage of.
The day began in the parking lot as students popped their car hoods and answered questions posed by instructors. Students were asked about where to check their oil, where to determine the correct air pressure for their tires (the driver’s side B-pillar on most vehicles) and to make sure the cars didn’t have clutter in the interior that could move around and end up under a brake pedal — which is a bad thing. Then the group headed to the classroom to discuss distracted driving, a serious issue among today’s young drivers.
After students divided into groups, they headed out with their own vehicles to multiple stations to learn different driving techniques. Students took part in the two-wheels-off exercise, backing chicane, ABS/lane change maneuver, slalom/skid pad and on-track driving. The student/instructor ratio allowed for a lot of one-on-one time with the instructors to help develop and improve solid driving techniques, which will transition well to everyday driving.
Unfortunately, the statistics for young drivers are pretty bad. Vehicle collisions are the number one cause of death for teenagers in the United States. Young drivers are three times more likely to be in a collision than all other age groups combined. Based on the dismal data, NASA instructors take the extra time to teach students in the Car Control course the skills they need to avoid becoming a statistic. NASA Car Control instructors at Thunderhill were volunteers who shared a real passion for driver safety. Some had lost loved ones and friends to automobile collisions, and teaching this course gave them a sense of making a difference for young drivers.
At the end of the day, there were smiles. The students got the opportunity to drive their cars on a real race track and while having fun, they learned important skills they can use every day on the road. The number of lives saved is an impossible statistic to track, but anyone who has been a part of a NASA Car Control Clinic knows the benefits of the course.
To find out more about NASA Car Control and to find the next event near you, check out their Facebook page: NASA Car Control. Even if you don’t have a son or daughter who is of driving age, spread the word, or sponsor a family friend to attend. They will love you for it, and you may just save their life.