Posted on March 22, 2013 at 7:36 PM
SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Tires screeching, cars spinning, teenagers watching.
It’s not an illegal street race, it’s the Ford Driving Skills for Life training session, where teenagers are watching their fellow students learn road lessons… the hard way.
In a modified Mustang, teen drivers are learning how to avoid hazards, manage their speed, and handle a vehicle when it gets away from them.
“Half the time they’re scared half-to-death,” said Susan Purkhiser, a stunt driver with motion picture credits that include The Italian Job, where she drove Mini-Coopers through Italian subway tunnels.
Purkhiser is one of the instructors for the program, allowing teenagers to get the feel behind the wheel of a car on slick roads.
“It’s quite shocking to a new driver—or anybody—to lose control of a car. But knowing you have the power to get that car back in control by counter-steering, is a great feeling.”
Shelby Moreno thought it was just another driving lesson. But Ford Driving Skills for Life has taken drivers’ ed up a notch for the 16-year-old.
“Just to learn these skills, it’s really helping me,” Moreno said.
On an adjacent course, alcohol impairment goggles make the work behind the wheel the stuff of nightmares.
Students are traveling less than 5 mph, learning how difficult it is to maneuver when your vision is affected by alcohol.
Even at crawl speeds, the drivers crushed the cones.
“This is affecting your vision. But, alcohol is going to affect your reaction time, too. It’s going to be slower,” said Bexar County Sheriff’s Deputy Tony Camacho, who was riding shotgun.
At the end of the trip, the instructors want to know these teenagers have learned how to arrive at their destinations safely.
The Ford Driving Skills for Life program is being held at the Manheim Auto Auction at 2042 Ackerman Road.
Sessions begin Saturday and Sunday, and organizers say there are still some slots available to any teens who hold a driver’s license or learner’s permit and 30 hours of experience behind the wheel.