Teen Street Skills is like driver's training 2.0

The number one killer of 15-17 year-olds isn’t drugs and alcohol, and it’s not daredevil-ism: It’s driving. IndyCar driver and Motor City native Robbie Buhl is trying to change that, at least for the kids in the Detroit metro area, with Teen Street Skills, a driver education and improvement program for 15-21 year-olds. To find out how it works, I sat in on TSS’s last session for 2018 in downtown Detroit with three teenaged students.

The session focuses on nine areas, some of which overlap: overall safety, skid control, evasive lane change maneuver, emergency braking, accident avoidance, distracted and impaired driving, interacting with law enforcement, car knowledge 2.0 and defensive driving behavior. The sessions are free and usually last 3.5 hours; this one was annotated to a little over an hour.

“In a class of 32 kids, usually at the beginning, about two are excited to be here, the rest were dragged by their parents,” says Buhl. “By then end, most of the kids are smiling and some want to do more.”

TSS just picked up a new sponsor, DEKRA, a company that focuses on human safety with technology, for next year’s 20 planned events.

Attendees learn about antilock brakes and panic stopping and why ABS is so important. Hint: it allows you to brake and turn at the same time. They also get time in the skid car, a Ford Fusion with training wheels that slides with barely any prodding, and finally do the 'moose test.' That’s where you have to do a quick lane change at about 40 mph.

I’ve written plenty about the atrocious state of driver’s training in this country, so any sort of addition is welcome, especially when it’s free. Having an IndyCar driver at the head, along with other pro drivers as teachers, only makes this more valuable.

Go to teenstreetskills.org for more information.

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