Car Talk Goes to Skid School

What's the point of advanced driver training? Isn't good old-fashioned Driver's Ed enough?

Not really, I learned.

In advanced driver training, we learned skills that prepared us for driving in the real world. We learned how hard we could brake, and how much room you really need to come to a full stop. (A lot more than you might think.)

Starting at 15 mph and working our way up to 35 mph, we also learned how to swerve around orange highway cones. We got comfortable knowing what a car can do and how it feels when you need to brake suddenly and then swerve.

The emergency lane change is the culmination point of the Stevens Advanced Driver Training program. There's nothing more terrifying than accelerating to 55 mph, slamming on the brakes and swerving. Well, maybe there is - doing exactly that, but substituting the front grille of an on-coming Mack truck for the orange highway cones. Thankfully, we were only using cones.

The emergency lane change maneuver taught me several valuable lessons:

1. I can keep control of my car at high speeds, and

2. Know my car won't flip over if I brake or swerve suddenly, and

3. With antilock brakes, I can brake and steer through my braking.

The course has given me the confidence I will need if I ever face a sudden obstacle behind the wheel. As a new driver, it's made me feel a lot more comfortable on the road, especially traveling on the highway.

I think that all young drivers would benefit from this course - and I'm sure that their parents would rest easier after seeing them learn to maneuver through such obstacles. (Don't tell my parents, but by the end of the day I was starting to think that emergency lane changes at highway speeds can be a lot of fun, too - on an unused airport runaway, anyway.)

My mom is already planning to send my fourteen-year-old brother to Skid School - once he learns to drive, that is. And once she lets him out of the cage we keep him in.

Genevra P.
Official Car Talk Teen Test Driver