By Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Preparing teen drivers for whatever comes their way on the roads is the goal of two training sessions this spring in Montgomery County.

“We like to set up an 18-wheeler in a parking lot and put the students in the cab behind the wheel,” says Rich Dunbar, Philadelphia-area coordinator for Tire Rack Street Survival. “They can see what the trucker sees — and can’t see — in terms of where cars are.”

Dunbar says the program goes beyond what teens have to know to earn a driver’s license.

“It teaches them how to execute emergency maneuvers, understand a little about vehicle dynamics, and what happens when they have to do things suddenly behind the wheel,” Dunbar says.

Teens are encouraged to show up for the course with the car they intend to drive full-time, as they manuever around obstacles using driving techniques usually relegated to competitve auto events — but all in a safe, controlled environment.

The payoff for learning such handling skills early?

“We’ve had great stories come back to us from grads of the program, saying ‘I was driving home from school and someone pulled out in front of me and I knew how to stop and avoid hitting them,'” Dunbar recounts. “Or ‘an accident occurred and I knew how to change lanes suddenly to avoid becoming part of it.'”

It’s $75 for the April 23rd or May 21st session at the Montgomery County Community College, but Dunbar says to talk to your insurance agent about potential coverage discounts.

Details at streetsurvival.org.

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