Drivers Ed From The Race Track

In the journey from typical street driver to becoming a race car driver on the track, there are many driving lessons learned from the race track which can be applied to increase safe driving on the street. Unfortunately, most people in the United States assume that they’re good drivers – this could not be further from the truth! When I made the transition from a typical street driver to driving a race car, I had to accept how poor I really was at driving an automobile. And once I accepted that fact, then I could begin the process of building skills that I could use on the track, which in turn has increased my ability to drive safely on the street.

1 Now, it would be easy to think that driving on a race track has nothing in common with driving on the street. Certainly there are many things that are different, but it was striking to me how many were the same. There are both technical and attitudinal items that, when done in a proficient manner, increase the level of driving competence on the street dramatically. And when modern driving schools incorporate some of these driving lessons into their programs, it can have a positive impact on their students.

An obvious question – why does this matter? Many people think it does not, but they are wrong. In 2009, there were an estimated 33,963 people who died in vehicle crashes in 2009 per USDOT / NHTSA estimates. And this is the tip of the iceberg when considering the much larger number who have suffered non-fatal injuries, costly car repairs, increased insurance costs, etc. due to being involved in a crash. One way to have a positive impact on this situation is to understand the various areas of learning that can be applied to drivers ed. Many are interrelated, but generally these can be categorized into eight basic categories where driving lessons learned from race car driving could help decrease crashes on the street:

Proper Use Of Brakes is something that is very seldom discussed and is one of the keys to being a great driver. The attitude of the car can be greatly affected by proper application of the brakes.

Understanding Corners is another one of the keys to mastering car control skills. There are a number of different types of corners and understanding how to handle the various corner profiles can make a large difference in safe driving.

Proper Steering is more than just “point and go”. It includes items such as where to start turning, smoothness of the turn, and many other technical issues.

Proper Mirror Use goes beyond taking a quick peek every now and again at what’s behind you. Mirrors are part of being aware of your surroundings and preparing the driver for proper reaction.

Road Conditions vary dramatically and being prepared for these conditions is much more than simply “slowing down”. It involves issues such as varying the brake time, when to ease off the throttle, and several other items which are dictated by changing conditions.

High Aim Vision is summed up with “you drive you look”. This is one of the key items to managing skids and being aware of your surroundings.

Using All Of Your Senses can be a key component of keeping the driver our of trouble. An integrated approach to “taking in your environment” can produce a much safer driver.

2Reading Others can provide an additional fraction of a second that can result in avoiding a trouble scenario.

Each of these topics, which individually appear to be trivial, when well understood and practiced can increase the level of driving mastery in both novice and experienced drivers. Driving schools that incorporate these types of topics into their driver education programs are equipping their students with superior tools that will be used to keep them out of trouble on the streets and be collision free for life.

Joe Pruskowski is a member of the team at SWERVE Driving School, a company committed to producing the Nation’s best teen drivers. Please visit SWERVE’s site for more information on driver education and SWERVE’s innovative and challenging approach to driving lessons.

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