Street Survival was formed in April 2002 by the BMW Car Club of America Foundation, a 501c3 organization. Street Survival is built upon the premise that ‘safe driving is learned by doing.’ From the outset, Street Survival has always been a “hands on” program and it is designed to go beyond the typical high school driver’s education program. The program teaches students to avoid accidents by thinking and looking ahead. Street Survival is unique in that it offers students instruction in their own cars so that they learn the limitations of their ‘daily drivers’ and that information is transferred immediately to what they drive every day, whether it’s a new Accord, pick-up truck, 5 year old Minivan, or the hand-me –down 15 year old Volvo station wagon.
The Tire Rack signed on as the corporate title sponsor in 2006 and has opened the doors to many more clubs and events. The schools are facilitated by chapters of the BMW Car Club of America, the Sports Car Club of America, Porsche Club and other car clubs where a trained instructor base can be utilized. The instructor to student ratio is quite low, often 2:1.
The schools are held typically in a large parking lot, such as a football stadium or large mall. They are 1 day, typically from 8:30am to 4:30pm. The cost is $ 75. They average 25 students per school with the largest school holding over 50 students every year for the last 4 years.
The day is a mixture of classroom and in-car exercises with a coach in the car at all times with the student. The student is put though a collection of exercises based on real world scenarios. They work on skid control on a wet skid pad; go through a lane change / accident avoidance maneuvers; threshold breaking / ABS exercises; they drive a slalom course to learn about weight transfer.
Where possible, the school does a 2 wheels off exercise and a tail gating exercise. In the classroom they learn about proper seating position and hand positions, mirror placement, the concept of the contact patch of their tires, the theories of weight transfer, the use of long distance vision and situational awareness. The instructors talk about the challenges of distractions to the driver, be it the radio / iPods or cell phones for talking or texting or just the simple cause of too many teens in the car. Where possible, the school stages a semi truck on site and park cars around it to simulate highway driving. Then each student and all adults get into the cab and close the door to show how little the driver can see and how many of the cars are not visible to the driver.
Recently Consumer Reports invited 37 teens and their parents to the Consumer Reports Auto Test Center in rural Connecticut for a day of driving skills training in conjunction with the Tire Rack Street Survival school.