NASA Southeast conducted its Annual Teen Survival Driving School during the Hotlanta Challenge at Road Atlanta in August. The School was organized by Jim and Julie Pantas and run by Caitlin Pantas, Brandon Pantas and Danny Parkhurst, an all-star cast.
Enrollment was up this year, with 16 teenage boys and girls ranging in ages from 15 to 17 signed up. The students had a full day from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with car-control drills on the skid pad and lessons in the classroom. Len Gregor and Kim Reed headed up the classroom portion to prepare the students for the on-track exercises.
These exercises gave students real-time, behind-the-wheel experience in their own cars. The course teaches threshold braking, reversing, slalom management, skid control, plus lane change/accident avoidance — things we all could experience in everyday driving. The teens’ favorite portion of the drills was definitely the wet skid pad, where they learned to control a slide with throttle and steering.
It was a constructive day for the parents and their teen drivers. To top off the afternoon, the students were allowed to give their parent a ride to show them what they learned.
NASA Southeast stages these events so they can help teens become more responsive, defensive and better-prepared drivers. Every one of the in-car instructors agreed the teenagers were better overall after completing the Teen Survival Driving School. Here are some quotes from parents and students:
“At first I was afraid, but when I saw my teen exhibit car control on the skid pad, I was confident in his ability to control a car.”
“I believe this can save my life in a panic situation.”
“I’m impressed with the volunteers and especially the instructor’s dedication to teaching the kids how to handle a car.”
“This is the most fun I have ever had while learning, and I look forward to the next event.”