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Driving on wet roads is one of the skills young drivers will learn at this weekend's Tire Rack course.

Driving program is supplement to driver's education

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A program coming to Rosemount later this month aims to keep teen drivers safer on the roads. On July 27, the Tire Rack Street Survival program comes to Rosemount, and is available to those ages 15-21. Tire Rack Street Survival is a non-profit teen driving program available throughout the nation from Tire Rack, tire and wheel specialists, and the BMW Car Club of America Foundation, a non-profit whose goal is to provide benefits to the motoring public.

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"A group of BMW club members felt that teenagers were getting the short end of the stick when it came to driving education, so who better to teach them than driving enthusiasts and car enthusiasts," said Bill Wade, national program director for Tire Rack Street Survival.

Seven years ago, Wade retired from his full-time job as an architect and helped write the original curriculum for the program. He had also been a high performance race instructor, so after working for Tire Rack primarily in the southeast part of the country, he began working as the national program director.

Tire Rack Street Survival is headquartered in Kentucky. Members of the BMW club host these classes in their hometowns or where they are working, making the program national. In 2012, they held 93 classes throughout the country. The Tire Rack Street Survival Program provides training in addition to the drivers education that young drivers receive prior to getting their license, and provides a real hands on experience for drivers.

Wade's daughter turned 16 right around the time he began working for the program.

"I was a little bothered by how little it took to get a driver's licence in the state of Kentucky," Wade said. "(The program) seemed like a really good idea. It was very important to do this."

Tire Rack Street Survival combines classroom learning with driving exercises.

"In the classroom, they hear about the theory of why the car does this when you do that, all the specific physics of weight transfer, braking and the idea of understeering skid and oversteering skid ... what those differences are and how you fix that," Wade said. "In the driving exercises, you put all those things to work."

The driving exercises include driving on a skid pad covered in water and dishwashing detergent to test skid control, as well as climbing into the driver's seat of a semi truck to learn how other vehicles see them or don't see them on the road.

"We do a lot of things that reinforce vision ... where they should be looking, how far down the road they should be looking," Wade said. "We do a lot of exercises that reinforce that.

"Typically, we also explode an airbag so they understand why you don't want to put your hands where the steering wheel is and not put your feet up on the dashboard," Wade said.

According to Tire Rack, the '100 Deadliest Days' on the road for teen drivers is from Memorial Day to Labor Day, with July 4 being the deadliest for all drivers on the road. In its 11th year, the program strives to teach teens how to "control their vehicle rather than operate it."

"Almost 10,000 people turn 16 a day, so we have almost an unlimited market of new drivers," Wade said. "So we are trying to be in as many locations and states as possible until the problem of teen deaths goes away."

Wade also created summer safety tips, called the arrive A.L.I.V.E. tips. The acronym stands for airbags, limit distractions, identify vehicle hazards, visual awareness and experience, all of which can be taught to teen drivers.

"In the state of Kentucky, it takes 425 hours to become a licensed masseuse, and you get your drivers licence after 40 hours of supervised driving, and the supervising is done by your parents," Wade said. "As a masseuse, you have to be tested by the state and follow a rigorous curriculum."

To register for the Rosemount program, visit www.streetsurvival.org. The class is being held at Dakota County Technical College, and it costs $75 to attend.

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