According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than one-third of teenage deaths in the US are the result of motor vehicle crashes. The reason? “Most teens around the country are inexperienced and don’t have enough practice and knowledge when they get behind the wheel of a car,” says Jason Friedman, founder and CEO of Drive Safer, a company that is looking to change the teen driver fatality statistics.
Established in 2012, Drive Safer is a car control and defensive driving “boot camp” aimed to “prepare teenagers to control their car in the face of real-world distractions and dangers, and to provide them with more experience and learning than the standard six-hour New Jersey mandated driving school course,” Friedman says. Additionally, the company’s defensive driving courses are state certified and can assist with saving money on car insurance as well as removing points from a driver’s license.
Currently, Drive Safer has courses that include basic car control, advanced car control, a winter weather clinic and a manual transmission clinic. The company’s basic car control course is comprised of six-hours of classroom instruction and behind-the-wheel experience. The classroom instruction covers issues like the dangers of distracted driving, to vehicle control and proper use of peripheral vision. The driving portion, in which students use their own cars, includes vehicle control skills, hazard avoidance, skid control and recovery and panic breaking, among others. In the advanced car control clinic – designed to provide even more training – teens experience a refresher of the basic course, time with their own vehicle on a road course and a session in the Drive Safer SKIDCAR.
“Our SKIDCAR allows us to simulate all different weather and driving conditions, as well as speed,” Friedman says. “The car itself is a Jeep Wrangler that is on a hydraulic, training-wheel-type system. It allows us to independently raise and lower the front and rear of the vehicle. In doing that, we are actually removing the amount of contact that the tires have with the ground. This way, we can simulate driving on wet pavement, ice, snow and all sorts of different conditions at a safe controlled speed of approximately 10 miles-per-hour.”
Teaching these courses is a team of driving instructors who have each completed certified instructor training school with at least one of the national sanctioning High Performance Driver Education programs and have “hundreds and thousands of hours of defensive and high-performance driving and instruction experience.”
Moving into 2015, Drive Safer has plans to expand its programs to other states, while making an effort to “assure that more teens – as well as their parents – know how dangerous driving can be for the inexperienced,” Friedman says.
“Our goal is to be able to reduce the number of teen deaths from inexperienced driving,” he concludes. “It is the number one killer of teens in the US and is an epidemic that can be cured with the proper guidance and practice, which is why we hope to be able to bring our courses to even more kids around the country.”