Street Survival is NOT Your Typical Driving Class

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NEWTON, Iowa -- The goal of the Tire Rack Street Survival course is that none of its students need to see the power of an airbag in person. However, we all know how unpredictable the road can be. Street Survival tries to prepare new drivers for the unexpected.

“Kids today in drivers ed learn the basics. They learn the book stuff, how to park, how to stop at a stop sign and so forth; but they don't learn real life driving experiences" said Street Survival Chairman David Brighton.

For that, Brighton and his crew turn the Iowa Speedway parking lot into an auto-gauntlet.

“We intentionally put their cars out of control. The instructors will grab the emergency brake and put it into a skid on purpose. We do an emergency lane change where it simulates say a child runs into the street or something, where they have to avoid a situation, a deer or whatever it may be.  Then we also have emergency braking where they get up to speed as quickly as possible then they have to slam on their breaks and they have to control the car in a skid.

Supplemented by a period in the classroom and a primer on car maintenance, at the end of the day the students run through a course that tests them on every skill they learned.

For Valley High School sophomore Wyatt Eiler, the class has been invaluable.

“It teaches kids how to handle their car in actual conditions where a lot of times drivers ed just teaches you how to drive a car, the basics of it, where this teaches you what will happen when it's snowing, what happens when it's raining, what happens when it's pouring, what happens when it's flooding. It teaches you everything” said Eiler.

For a first-year driver like Wyatt, that knowledge makes him more sure behind the wheel.

“I'll be a lot more confident now, cause now when I'm in snow I know not to slam on the breaks, you just slowly ease into it, with turning, not to jerk it because if you jerk it you won't do anything you just have just like slowly...and figure out what's ok to do in the situation” he said.

The hope is that the knowledge passed on by the all-volunteer staff will give these students the tools they need to stop them from becoming a statistic of the most common cause of death for teens.

The class is held twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall.

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