Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Driver Safety Comes First for Teenagers

Those of us who are lucky enough to have teenage children are burdened with one or two extra little worries.

Are they getting enough sleep? The right diet? Are they studying enough? Who are their friends? Do they have too many piercings? Will they get sprained thumbs from too much video gaming?

One of the biggest worries, though, comes when they slip behind the wheel of a car.

It is with great trepidation that most parents hand over the keys. Even the best teenage driver is still an inexperienced one. We trust our kids, but what about the “other guy,” the driver who speeds down narrow country roads, the one who passes against the double yellow line or has a few drinks before getting in the car?

Our kids need all the protection they can get, and we can’t all afford armored Humvees for them to drive.

A New Driver Control Clinic, sponsored twice a year by Fauquier Health System, is one protection parents of teens can afford; there is one coming to Warrenton, April 18-20.

The clinic teaches defensive driving skills, accident avoidance maneuvers, brake management, steering management, eye management and wet weather driving skills. The program is for teens who already have a learner’s permit, and includes an hour and a half of classroom teaching and four hours of behind-the-wheel training. The behind the-wheel instruction takes place in the family car, so that teens can have real practical experience in the car they are going to be driving.

The course costs $159 and a parent must attend with the teenager. Classroom instruction is scheduled for Friday, April 18, 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Fauquier Hospital’s Sycamore Rooms. For the behind-the-wheel training, parent-student teams have a choice of the morning (8:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) or the afternoon (12:45 p.m. to 5 p.m.) on Saturday, April 19 or Sunday, April 20. The driving sessions will be held at Lord Fairfax Community College.

Some who have already taken the class had these comments:

“I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciated the Car Clinic … My daughter enjoyed it and learned a lot of valuable information to take with her while driving. In fact, later that afternoon, … [she] had to use her new skills to avoid someone cutting in front of her in Warrenton.”

“… the new driver control clinic was simply wonderful!... I only wish all new drivers could have the same informative, hands-on experience offered through this class. I truly believe this clinic has set the proper tone/attitude for him as a new driver. … I’d like to heap praise on the instructor. He was well versed in his subject, related to the kids right from the start, and let them have fun in the process… I have been driving for over 30 years and I learned a few things too.”
“I honestly would recommend this class to every new driver because I have been driving for two years and I learned things about my car that I never knew. The class taught me how to use my brakes based on what kind I had. This class will hopefully save my life someday!”

To register for the clinic, parent-teen teams can go to to register. There are still some spots left.

Because I am one of the many who can’t afford a Humvee, I have signed up myself with my 16-year-old son, who is just a week away from his driver’s test. On April 21, I’ll share with you the inside scoop about the clinic – just in case you’ve got a teenager approaching driving age.

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