Sunday, November 11, 2012

Car Control Clinic Prepares Young Drivers for Unexpected Emergencies

My 15-year-old daughter and I attended the New Driver Car Control Clinic, sponsored by Fauquier Health, last weekend. I had participated in the clinic five years ago with my son, but it was a very different experience.

The Car Clinic was the same as it was five years ago -- a very wonderful event that prepares teens to deal with emergencies on the road. It was my partner in the class who was different this time.

When my son and I took the class, he was a young driver, but he already had logged his mandatory hours behind the wheel and had his license. Even as a beginner, he had been confident and relaxed behind the wheel. When he was faced with the "obstacles" presented by the course, he maneuvered them easily and with a sense of fun.

When the class was over and he was faced with a real-life obstacle in the road one rainy night, he dealt with it beautifully and avoided an accident. Thank you, Car Control Clinic!!

With my daughter at the clinic last weekend, it was a different story. She still has her learner's permit, and has not spent nearly as much time in the driver's seat. She is also a more cautious personality, and nervous about making mistakes. At the beginning of the behind-the-wheel portion of the class, she was very tense and worried. She relaxed after a few exercises and I thought we might get through the ordeal without a nervous breakdown.

It turned out that she did fine at most of the tasks asked of her, but when she had to skid on purpose and avoid hitting some cones that were set up... well let's just say the cones took a beating. Her reaction surprised me. Instead of feeling angry and defensive about running over the cones, she was completely comfortable and did better each time she tried. She kept her sense of humor and learned the lessons she set out to tackle. I credit the instructor, Ed Haines, for making her feel relaxed.

The big bonus of the class came a few days later, when she got behind the wheel of our car to drive to Culpeper. Before we took the class, every time she drove was a challenge. We would fight because she was tense and resented any suggestion from me. The trip to Culpeper was different. She showed a new confidence and had shed her fears that led to our conflicts. Thank you, Car Control Clinic!!!

I am thankful that this is the last child I will have to teach to drive. But I am glad I had the Car Control Clinic to help. When it comes time to giving up the keys for her maiden drive alone, I will feel much better knowing she has the experience -- and confidence -- to cope with an unexpected emergency.

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