Release date 04/12/2011
Consumer Reports will host its first-ever teen driving safety program in cooperation with the national non-profit Tire Rack Street Survival® driver education program. The event will be held on Saturday, April 30 at CR’s Auto Test Center in Connecticut and give young drivers important new skills and experience behind the wheel.
“We’re pleased to be making our facilities and experts available for this special program,” said David Champion, Sr. Director of Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center in East Haddam. “Car crashes are among the biggest causes of fatalities among teens. Making sure they have the right vehicle, and driving skills, is critical.”
Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center is used year-round for testing vehicles, tires, and a limited number of auto aftermarket products. Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, acquired the old Connecticut International Dragway property in 1986 and subsequently established one of the largest automotive test centers in the United States.
Though the track is closed to the general public, Consumer Reports periodically makes its facility available to the Connecticut State Police for its advanced “Emergency Vehicle Operation Course.”
The driving school initiative is in line with Consumer Reports’ recent effort to educate teens about the dangers of texting while driving. In March, the U.S. Department of Transportation and Consumer Reports announced a partnership to educate parents, teachers and teens about the dangers of distracted driving. The DOT and CR released a free guide for parents and educators called “Distracted Driving Shatters Lives” that is available at the DOT’s web site, http://Distraction.gov and at https://www.consumerreports.org/distracted. Copies of the brochure are being distributed to schools and volunteer groups by the National School Safety Coalition.
Teens are the most at-risk group of drivers, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The crash rate per mile driven for 16- to 19-year-olds is four times the risk for drivers 20 and older. The rate for 16-year-olds is nearly twice as high as it is for 18- to 19-year-olds. According to the Highway Loss Data Institute, collision damage costs for vehicles insured for teenagers to drive are
more than double those for vehicles insured for use by adults only. The main difference between these groups is lack of experience.
“We’re trying to make the roads safer for everyone,” said Bill Wade, Street Survival National Program Manager. “We’re pleased that Consumer Reports is partnering with us to run this driving school and believe it will be of great value to young people in the community.”
Unlike traditional driver education programs based on classroom theory and simple maneuvers, the Street Survival program improves driver competence through hands-on experiences in real-world driving situations.
Teens will learn from experienced, knowledgeable driving coaches how to control a vehicle, rather than just operate one. They are taught how their actions govern a car’s responses, what the vehicle’s limitations are, and how to avoid crashes entirely. Unlike other advanced driving schools, students use the vehicle they will drive most (either their own or one from a parent), so new skills can be directly translated to their own daily driving experiences.
The Street Survival class is open to licensed or permitted drivers aged 15 to 21 years old and costs $75. The fee for participating is used to offset costs associated with the program; Consumers Union is not charging anything for the event, and it is not receiving any funds or other compensation from the Street Survival program. Forms, schedules and more information can be found online at www.streetsurvival.org.
The program is limited to no more than 40 students; because of the high demand for these courses, CR and Street Survival expect the April 30 event to be fully subscribed. But other Street Survival events are always being planned, and students are encouraged to check out other upcoming programs.
ABOUT TIRE RACK STREET SURVIVAL®
Tire Rack Street Survival® program improves driver competence through hands-on experiences in real-world driving situations. Classes are conducted by experienced driving coaches from local members from regional chapters of the BMW Car Club of America (BMW CCA), Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), Porsche Club of America and other car clubs that volunteer. Students are taught in their own cars, not specially prepared program vehicles, so that the skills they learn can be directly translated to their daily driving experiences. In 2010, 81 communities signed up to benefit more than 1,800 students.
ABOUT CONSUMERS UNION
Consumers Union (CU) was founded in 1936 and is recognized as one of the most important consumer organizations in the world. It maintains the world’s largest nonprofit educational and consumer product testing facility. CU, publisher of Consumer Reports and ConsumerReports.org, is an independent, nonprofit testing and information organization serving the consumer. CR is a comprehensive source of unbiased advice about products and services, personal finance, health, nutrition, and other consumer concerns. Since 1936, CU’s mission has been to test products, inform the public, and protect consumers.