I was actually a bit nervous to volunteer as an instructor for the Street Survival School back in July at Family Arena in St. Charles. Although I’ve gone two decades without an accident, don’t tailgate, and don’t cut people off in traffic, I’ve never had any High Performance Driving Experience (HPDE) before, which I thought was a prerequisite for being an Instructor. It’s not.
What is necessary is that you’re a safe driver, a car enthusiast, and are able to relate and teach through the course exercises as well as your personal experience. I think it is just as important to know what happens during ABS braking as it is to have someone relate their experiences of friends lost to drunk driving, the dangers of texting, and close calls on the highway.
Prior to our session back in July, a few of the new instructors hopped into the 3 Series of a more seasoned instructor and ran through the course. It was fun, not difficult. It put me at ease to know that the lessons we were about to share did not require any previous HPDE…or roll cages.
The kids had a blast. I had two that day. The first student was nervous at the beginning of the course, but soon had a huge smile on her face and irrepressible laughter as we did sharp, g-force-inducing figure 8’s under the torrential barrage of water from the vintage red fire truck on site. That was, by far, her favorite exercise.
The second student had clearly been practicing. He was outstanding and made me look like I knew what I was doing. For him, I think the biggest benefit came from sharing my personal experience and that of dear friends who have made foolish mistakes behind the wheel. I didn’t tell him at the time, but I think he should look into HPDE for himself. He was that good.
Overall, it was a great day. We all had a blast and I’d like to think that the young drivers I was charged with that day will continue to learn, to drive safely, and never make the seemingly trivial mistakes that can have dire consequences that so many young people do. It felt great to help new drivers learn from my experience and I’m looking forward to volunteering at the next one in October.