Imagine a rainy day, and a car drifting over into your lane.  You swerve and start to skid.  You lose control of your car.  It’s certainly possible, and especially for a new driver.  As I head ever closer to 16, I am anxiously counting off the days until I get my learner’s permit.  I won’t tell you the exact date, but those who know me well enough know that date.  When I was little, my mom would make a paper chain before an exciting event.  I would rip a link off everyday, counting down until the big moment.  Anybody have those?

Back to topic.  I don’t really have that many plans for this summer.  I would like to do life guard training, and an automotive oriented internship (any suggestions wonderful readers?), but other than that, I am free.  So I had a talk with Mom and Pops, and we have agreed to send me to (at least -wishful thinking.  All in the name of safety, after all) a defensive driving school!  Of course, most of these courses are simply one day, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do multiple one-day courses!  Right, Mom?  Hint, hint.  I decided to research defensive driving schools all around the U.S. of A.  Think of the travel opportunities…  After a few hours of fun solid research, I narrowed down the research to the following schools:

  • Richard Petty Safe Driving Course:  The Richard Petty Safe Driving Course is meant for young drivers like teens.  As you can imagine, the King of NASCAR takes immense pride on how to teach teens how to drive.  Defensively and safely.  There are courses at many NASCAR road courses, and the biggest course is at Talladega Superspeedway!  This course costs $329-399 for a one-day course.  Cars are provided by Chrysler, Dodge, and SRT.  The course is part of a large study conducted by Clemson University Automotive Safety Research Institute.  Many graduates return for the Richard Petty Experience, where you can drive a detuned stock car (race cars as close to stock as possible) at Daytona Speedway!  Those interested in taking the course can find more information at drivepetty.com/safe-driving
  • Advanced Driving Dynamics sounds like a name for physics nerds.  It’s not. This course is a one-day crash course on how to drive cars safely, defensively, and quickly.  Toyota provides the cars, and there is a certified Toyota technical team ready at all times.  This course only happens in the spring at Irwindale Speedway, and it is not very well-known.  However, this makes it a prime place for small studies to be conducted, and a good amount of teens from the Los Angeles area come to take this course.  The cost is $350, with a $100 deposit 60 days in advance.  You can find more information at advanceddrivingdynamics.com
  • BMW Teen Driving School is what it sounds like.  This course teaches teens how to handle the Ultimate Driving Machine in icky conditions.  Instead of using thousands of gallons of water for the skidpad, BMW uses a special chemical favored by many militaries around the world.  This chemical is safe, and it replicates ice, snow, or rain-covered asphalt.  There is a family program that teaches parents how to be good driving role models for their teen.  Parents can take this course, test-drive as many Bimmers as they want on the same course their youngsters are driving, or go go-karting.  This course takes place at the BMW Testing and Performance Center in Spartanburg, South Carolina.  This is also the factory for the BMW X1, X3, and X5.  If you are interested in going to this course with me, you can visit bmwusa.com/performancecenter#teenschool for even more information.  The cost is $550 for one day, and $950 for two days.
  • Street Survival Teen Driving Course:  The BMW Club of North America sponsors this amazing program for teens.  This course is a one-day course that teaches teens how to drive their car at the limit, and stay in control.  Instead of using a car that the teen is not familiar with, teens use their own car.  Not only does it make them feel more comfortable, but it shows them what it is like to drive their own car at the limit.  This is the most inexpensive teen driving course, coming in at a grand total of $125 for one day.  The teens who come here with their learner’s permit often come back the next year with their driver’s license.  You can see just a teensy bit more information at streetsurvival.org
  • Honda Teen Defensive Driving School:  This course is not as positively reviewed as all of the other courses, but it shows teens how to drive on many different surfaces.  These surfaces include snow, ice, rain-soaked asphalt, gravel, and mud.  Plus, the teens get to do all of this in Honda’s latest sports car.  Parents get to watch their kid going around the skidpad in a skid car (a car with wheels that can be altered by the instructor).  This course takes place at the Mid-Ohio Motorsports Park, and costs $375 a day.  More information can be found at midohio.com/School/Courses/Defensive-Driving/Honda-Teen-Defensive-Driving-Program
  • Bob Bondurant School of High-Performance Driving Teen Course:  Bob Bondurant is a household name in terms of high-performance driving schools.  His school has taught many celebrities and average people to drive like a race-car driver.  His first customer was Paul Newman!  They recently added a teen program where teens drive their own car and/or a Bondurant Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE.  Parents can pay just a little bit extra, and become two more backseat drivers!  Many teens said that the experience was enjoyable, and that they would recommend it to their friends.  This course costs $495 for a five-hour course, $895 for a one-day course, and $1,595 for two days.  If you want to join me, reserve your spot at bondurant.com/programs/teen-driving-program
  • Miller Motorsports Park Teen Driving Course:  Miller Motorsports Park is a large racetrack in Ohio where many people enjoy lapping agile cars.  Miller Motorsports park charges $250 a day for teens to learn how to drive a car defensively.  They don’t simulate icky road conditions, but they do simulate bad drivers and fake “road rage.”  Teens who take this course say that they know how to get away from somebody having a case of road rage.  You can look at Miller Motorsports Park’s Teen Driving Course at millermotorsportspark.com/driving-school/safety-schools/teen-driving-school.html
  • Sim Raceway Highway Survival Driving School:  Sim Raceway sounds like a game for the xBox.  It’s most certainly not.  This school teaches drivers how to be good drivers on highways.  The course teaches drivers how to drive cars on the highway in appalling conditions.  They have to pass other drivers on a long skidpad.  Where does this take place?  Beautiful Sonoma Raceway!  Close to where I live!  The reviews are 100% positive, and everybody says that the instructors take pride in teaching teens how to drive well on highways.
  • Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy:  The Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy is situated in traffic-clogged Los Angeles, CA.  It teaches drivers how to be aggressive in the perpetual traffic that is Los Angeles, and then teaches them how to drive a German luxury car (or SUV) on the windy canyon roads above Malibu.  The reviews are positive, and everybody likes driving the cars.  Sessions are private, except for parent-teen workshops.  These private sessions can cost anywhere from $200-500.  Parent-teen workshops cost about $1,200.  However, these parent-teen workshops are fun, educational for everybody, and the teens get to drive a Mercedes-Benz of their choice.  Sounds like fun!  Check out mb-drivingacademy.com/us/en/home.html

I can’t wait to see you guys at one of these driving programs!

16 thoughts on “The Best Defensive Driving Schools or MY Plans for This Summer

  1. I vote for the Slim Raceway school….close…I bet more reasonable than others….no airfares or long drives to attend…no hotel room costs…..and probably the only school that can teach you to drive in rain or fog…on any day you attend.

    Freeway driving does not require a school….a waste of money. Just get on the freeway and stay in the slow lane driving at a speed which is comfortable for you….when they start honking at you from behind slowly speed up till you’re comfortable and they stop honking…..then when you come up behind someone going too slow….you honk….and now you’re freeway trained.

    Changing lanes on a freeway is another lesson….but I charge money for that one.

    hugs from zayzee

    1. Well, I think that you should do the Sim Raceway school. Plus, you never really drive in fog because of your sunny location. But, you can give me a lesson on how to drive freeways to get there…Besides, who cares about changing lanes on a freeway – only people in a hurry to get to their own funeral and cops change lanes, right?

    2. Harry took this course and really thought it was useful. He gained confidence in his driving, in what he could control, and had fun. And on a personal note: while I was waiting I hung around the track and saw (and heard and felt) someone bringing his newly restored Ferrari racer back onto the track for the first time in 4+ decades. V12, fantastic sound, look, shake. it was pretty amazing. And no, I didn’t ask to take it for a spin.

  2. Candler –

    Have you considered contacting Road and Track (and other such magazines) and asking them to finance your visiting ALL of these courses this summer and then writing an article for the magazine comparing all of them? It would be a great article for all of their teen readers.

    Just say’n –

    Unc How !

    1. I thought about that, but they typically only do things like that with college students and above. Even then, it’s mostly middle-aged guys who write guest columns. I guess that I should start looking old, right?

  3. Can I get hired to be the dangerous driver you encounter? Sounds like a fun summer for me!! Good luck and yes, we had our share of paper chains!!

  4. We’ll just go out to a back road and play chicken until you learn defensive driving. Perhaps the rest if us should learn to drive defensively now that you’ll be out on the roads!

  5. I think Unc How’s idea sounds like a perfect fit for you. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Give them a call. And Sherry, Sheriff Academy sounds perfect for me. It’s possibly the kind of training I need to combat my freeway fears.

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