Page 10


From the 6.29.20 Issue


Students build confidence behind the wheel by andy owens aowens@scbiznews.com

Student drivers take the slalom course during Tire Rack’s Street Survival School in Charleston. (Photo/Andy Owens)


ll nine drivers hit their brakes too soon. It’s what they’d been taught: Apply the brakes to keep your car in control, and don’t do anything too drastic on the road. Drive safely. But the class held near Bees Ferry Road on a recent Saturday morning was designed to push young drivers and their vehicles a bit further. After a few rotations, the coaxing from their passengers — who were professionally trained performance drivers — paid off. The high school students circled around and accelerated through a lane made of cones in a church parking lot, taking their cars, pickup trucks and SUVs to the edge as the

shake, shake, shaking pulse of antilock braking systems kicked in. Cheers went up every time one of the students took their cars into the ABS zone. The organizers of Street Survival School knew that was the sound of increasing confidence and of a driver gaining experience in how to handle a vehicle safely. The school, which is held at different times and places throughout the year, is put on by the regional Sports Car Club of America chapter and co-sponsored by Tire Rack, Michelin and BMW Car Club of America. Melanie Murray, the organizer of the day-long school for the local Sports Car Club of America chapter, said she got involved in the organization when her children took the

class years ago. Murray, who drives a Ford Mustang, said she grew up around racing. Her father was a dirt-track racer, and now three generations of her family are involved in performance vehicles. “What did you think?” Murray asked the students leaving their line of parked vehicles to grab coffee, water and doughnuts after the braking exercise. “Did you have fun?” Between driving sessions, as the cones are rearranged for different exercises, Murray and her volunteers talk to the students about how their vehicles respond to situations. They urged students to understand that taking responsibility for their own cars can save their lives. For example, something as simple as regularly checking tire pressure can

otherNEWSMAKERS BULLDOG TOURS SHARES SITES OFF BEATEN PATH While people were stuck indoors, unable to travel to Charleston and gather in groups, tour guides from Bulldog volunteered to provide video tours of different parts of Charleston. Every day, a tour guide records a live video on Bulldog’s Facebook page highlighting a different area of the Lowcountry.

10 Charleston Regional Business Journal | Newsmakers

Bulldog Tours guides transitioned to offering online video tours of Lowcountry sites. (Photo/Provided)

impact how much of your car is in contact with the road. They also talk about speed. Murray said the inability of a driver to control a vehicle increases as a vehicle accelerates. “One of the things we need you to realize is excessive speed is the leading cause of fatal crashes,” Murray said. The nine students came to Charleston from several states, including Georgia, Virginia and Florida. The classes are designed for real-world experience in a controlled environment, so students are asked to bring their own vehicles to the school instead of using test vehicles. Organizers want the students to experience exactly how their cars will react to different circumstances. After braking and handling exercises, students learned to detect weight transfers by weaving their cars through cones. As they gained confidence (and trashed a few of the cones), they also began to gain confidence, speed and control of their cars. Then they had to slalom through the cones in reverse. Alex Daley, a Sports Car Club of America inspector who drives a Subaru WRX competitively, said the goal of the school is to build confidence in the young drivers and to teach them to be responsible for their cars. She said the more experience a driver gets, the more inputs they can eliminate when something happens, which is why the volunteers throw tennis balls at the cars and in the line of sight of the drivers as they’re weaving through the course of cones. Daley said the goal is to make it so that drivers don’t have to think about the inputs that don’t matter — like the sounds a car makes when ABS brakes kick in or the feeling of weight shifting as a vehicle makes a tight turn — and can just drive when split-second decisions have to be made. “A lot of this is about having more confidence behind the wheel,” Daley said. Daley added that there’s typically a moment where a young driver gets it, begins to trust their vehicle and realizes “Oh, I can do this.” CRBJ

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2020 Charleston Regional Business Journal - Newsmakers  

2020 Charleston Regional Business Journal - Newsmakers  

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