Friday, June 3, 2011

Field Trip Friday: Driver’s Edge



Every 61 minutes, someone is killed by a teen driver.

I don’t know about you, but as a parent of not one, but two teen drivers, those statistics terrify me.

Wouldn’t you like to give your child every advantage possible? I do. That’s why last weekend I drove two hours one way to Nashville, Tennessee so my children could participate in the highly acclaimed, much recommended, Driver’s Edge program which is sponsored by Bridgestone.

The Driver’s Edge program begins with a heartbreaking 9-11 call from an accident that took place in Nevada nearly 12 years ago. A car full of students had left school to grab a bite to eat. On the way back to school, the driver took her eyes off the road momentarily, looked up, saw that she was about to miss a curve in the road, over corrected, lost control of her car and plowed head first into a steel pole, literally breaking the car in pieces and trapping the occupants in a mess of twisted metal. Two of the girls died.  One lost her leg. The others received severe injuries. The father of one of the girls killed was so distraught, he killed himself.

How fast do you think this driver was going?  She wasn’t driving recklessly, she was obeying the speed limit, she was only driving 35 miles an hour! She took her eyes off the road, looked back up and panicked. She made a mistake. Haven’t we all?

The school district reacted by banning students from leaving at lunch. Makes sense, right?  If the kids can’t leave during the day for lunch, they can’t get in accidents and they won’t die. But what happens on the way to school, or after school, or on weekends?

That’s were Driver’s Edge comes in. The minds behind Driver’s Edge knew there is a better way. How about picking up where traditional drivers education programs leave off? How about teaching your children how to handle adverse driving conditions in a controlled environment? How about giving your young driver an edge that one day may say their life or the life of another?

Driver’s Edge teachers your children how to remain cool under pressure and while teaching them evasive driving skills.

Participants learn proper posture for driving, where their hands should be on the steering wheel (9 and 3 for more control and best range of motion),  why it’s so important to wear a seatbelt,  skid control, cornering, proper braking techniques, and steering when your ABS is engaged, and the dangers of drunk driving or driving under the influence. The instructors make use of every minute in this four hour course!

Oh yeah, did I mention that all the instructors are highly recognized in the professional driving arena? Who better to learn from than from those that understand driving better than anyone?

Driver’s Edge also works closely with the State Highway Patrol who demonstrate the effects of driving under the influence with goggles that simulate alcohol consumption.

In Nashville, the state police also brought in a truck that uses hydraulics to roll over. This simulates what happens to the occupants of a vehicle during a roll over; with and without seatbelts. My son didn’t raise his hand when the officer asked who wore seatbelts so he became the example for the rest of the group. The officer is showing him how to wear the seatbelt properly. Doesn’t he look embarrassed? Maybe next time, he’ll raise his hand. 


Next, the class gets a chance to drive and practice steering out of a skid. Don’t you just love the cars they drove? I have to tell you that my boys got really excited for the class after they heard they’d be driving BMWs.   

 One of my guys the first time through.


After the class is over the kida take a another test (the take a pre-test when they arrive) to see how much they’ve learned and then they had an awards ceremony. The kids that completed the 4 hour course each received a certificate- which can be turned in to most insurance agents to save you money on your insurance premiums. (By the way, ours  jumped $2000 this year when we added the boy’s on as drivers…something to keep in mind if you have an up coming driver. )

Each teen driver also receives an emergency roadside kit, a  hat, and a  t-shirt which they can have autographed, if they chose. Not only did my boys each have their shirts autographed, they also asked one of the instructors, a two time Indy race winner to pose for a picture with them. 

As a parent, I thought the instruction my children learned was invaluable. The instructors were incredible and passionate about what they do, you can tell that they really care about the kids.

I have recommended Driver’s Edge to everyone I know and can’t praise the program high enough. If you have the opportunity to go to this FREE program, for the sake of your child and other driver’s on the road, don’t miss it. Just one word of advice,  these courses fill up fast so don’t hesitate! You can find a list of the cities that have arranged for a Driver’s Edge program here

If you don’t have a Driver’s Edge in your area, write to them, write to Bridgestone, let them know that you’re interested. They’d like to add more, they just need to know that there  is an interest.

Driver’s Edge also recommends the following driving schools:

Bridgestone Winter Driving School in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Mid-Ohio School in Lexington, OH 

Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving in Chandler, AZ

Skip Barber Racing School, various locations throughout the US

Jim Russell Racing Drivers School in Sonoma, CA   

As far as field trips go, I didn’t consider this a field trip until we were headed home and the boys commented that this had been the BEST field trip ever. When I told them I didn’t consider Driver’s Edge a field trip, they asked why not? Didn’t they learn enough? When they put it that way….I guess we could call it a field trip.

Until next month~ Happy Field Trippin’! 


  1. I think this is a great idea for teen drivers! What a fun program for them! and your poor son does look embarrassed... lol

  2. I HIGHLY recommend this program and would love to see them add Ohio as one
    of their tour stops. It's not free but if we were still in Ohio I'd send my
    boys to the defensive driving course at Mid-Ohio in Lexington- just incase
    any of your friends that have older children are interested. :)

    Oh, your camping trip...priceless!

  3. Yes, it is an incredible program. I'd heard good things and even though my
    expectations were already high, I was blown away.


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