Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, but a new program for teen drivers is giving them valuable experience that could save lives on the road.
Teens Drive Smart pairs young drivers with a professional racecar driver to sharpen those quick reaction skills necessary to stay safe.
"We're teaching where that limit is before their life is on the line," said instructor Dominic Cicero.
The program involves four hours of skidding and swerving through a course of cones acting as road hazards.
The challenges include shifting lanes to dodge something blocking the road, keeping the car between the cones while ignoring distractions and recovering from a nerve-racking skid.
The drivers learn that one rule applies to all - keep your eyes on the road and stay focused on where you need to be.
"Focusing on hope, not reality," Cicero said. "Our hands and our eyes are hooked together, and you see it every day. You see a pothole and say you don't want to hit the pothole and then you drive right to the pothole."
Important driving skills include coordination, steering and braking on time.
"At 60 mph, you are traveling 90 feet per second," Cicero said.
Cicero, a professional racecar driver, sees the improvement firsthand without the drivers' mom and dad looking over their shoulders.
"They are like little sponges, because they look up to us. They could see us next weekend on ESPN or Speed Channel or something, because all of us compete professionally at some level," he said.
The Teens Drive Smart program, presented by Bridgestone Americas, is out at the Gaylord Opryland all weekend. For more information and to sign up your teen driver, visit http://www.teensdrivesmart.com/.
Copyright WSMV 2012 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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