Cleveland.com, Jill Sell
When 16-year-old Mary Kate Prokopius of Solon arrived at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio last month to take a defensive driving course. She saw “Porsches racing around the track at 80 miles an hour.” A newly licensed driver, Prokopius is not a fan of fast driving and wasn’t sure what she was getting herself into.
Her father, and later her instructors, reassured Prokopius that the controlled environment and paying attention would keep her safe. And no one was asking students to go 80 miles an hour. By the end of the one-day Mid-Ohio School’s Honda Teen Defensive Driving Program, Prokopius learned “new, simple driving techniques” that she could “use in everyday situations.”
“Females are a little more timid than male students. But it’s actually a little worse to be timid. We teach them to be more aggressive behind the wheel. But they need to be more aggressive only in that one moment when that car pulls out in front of them. If they lose control, they need to know how to recover,” said David Roush, Mid-Ohio School’s general manager.
Students have classroom instruction and three hours of driving in a Honda Civic EX Coupe and a skid car. They learn how to drive in ice, snow and rain. Defensive driving behavior, wet braking, emergency lane changing, collision avoidance, and other topics and drills are covered.
“The exercises weren’t very difficult to take in, but they were more difficult to execute,” said Prokopius. “It is a very useful course. The instructors understood how we felt and were very supportive.”
Mid-Ohio’s Teen Defensive Driving Program is in its 20th year and has graduated more than 12,500 teenage drivers. Instructors are professional race car drivers who teach safe-driving techniques for the streets. Courses run from March through November.
“Most of the teens don’t want to be here at first, but their parents make them come,” said Roush. “But at the end of the day, they don’t want to stop driving. They have so much fun.”
To learn more about The Mid-Ohio School, visit www.midohioshool.com or call (877) 793-8667.