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Submitted by Rich Loney, NOCBMWCCA Pilot Editor

While enjoying our Chapter holiday party this past January I found my way to the silent auction table. There were lots of great things up for bid but one item in particular caught my eye. A gift certificate for the Mid-Ohio School's Honda Teen Defensive Driving Program. If you've read my past columns you're aware that my 16-year old son Ryan started driving about 9 months ago. Knowing how ill-prepared I was at his age to drive, winning this particualar aution seemed like a must. With my checkbook in hand I bid with gusto and won! I was thrilled, not only was the certificate mine, but I was able to get it for a bit less then list price. Bargin!

Once home, my son and I logged on to Mid-Ohio's website to get a better idea of what the course was all about. There we discovered videos showing teens doing 360-degree spin after 360-degree spin while driving Honda Accords with skid pad rigs. It appeared to be a blast! My thought was that this was going to be a fantastic day of driving fun with a bit of education mixed in.

After a quick and easy phone call to Mid Ohio, we were scheduled for class time on May 22, 2011. The representative said I could attend the classroom sessions at no additional cost, and as a bonus, I could also bring my 13-year son Kyle along pro-bono as well. Skid pad, race track, cars, and a day with my boys. What could be better?

We arrived at Mid Ohio at 8 a.m. sharp and headed to the Goodyear Tower to register. Once full, the class consisted of 14 teens, both boys and girls. Our lead instructor Brian Till, a former race driver and current ESPN and Speed Channel commentator, was fantastic with the kids. His ability to speak to these young adults in a manner that captivates their attention is a true gift. To break the ice, he asked each student why they were attending the course. To my surprise, 11 of the students were mandated by a magistrate to attend be due to traffic violations. In addition to speeding tickets, infractions ranged from rolling
a car to totalling a motorcycle. At this point I realized the teen defensive driving school was more then a day of fun with my boys. The sobering reality was that many of these kids were one bad driving decision away from a possible fatal car accident.

During the three classroom sessions, Brian cover many great driving and awareness tips but he also presented some eye opening facts.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15- to 20-year olds, accounting for over one-third of all teenage fatalities. In 2009, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,000 teens were killed and over 350,000 were sent to the emergency room as a result of a motor vehicle crash. Nearly 13% of all drivers involved in fatal accidents are teens, despite the fact that they make up only 6% of licensed drivers. The conclusion: inexperience, immaturity, faulty judgment, poor hazard recognition and a higher propensity for risk-taking put young drivers in jeopardy behind the wheel, which can end in tragic results.

Practice, education and experience are the only ways to reduce these unfor­tunate figures, and that's exactly what The Mid-Ohio School's Honda Teen Defensive Driving Program provides. The one-day course prepares young motorists for real-world situations by exposing them to potentially hazard­ous situations in a safe, controlled environment.

Using both theory and practice, the talented and professional team of instructors at the Mid Ohio School lead by Brian Till can instill the skills teens likely never learned in Driver's Ed — skills that don't just make them better drivers, but just might save their lives.