By RYAN SHERIDAN
Daily Press writer
Young drivers will now have the opportunity to learn how to handle ice and snow conditions in a controlled environment.
Drivers between the ages of 15 and 24 can register in January and February to participate in winter driving courses taught by the Colorado State Patrol at the Bridgestone Winter Driving School in Steamboat Springs.
This is the first such class of its nature in the United States.
The program is based in part on the State Patrol's four-hour 'Alive At 25' driving safety program, and was created in a partnership between the CSP and the Rally Art Organization of Steamboat Springs.
The Rally Art Organization, established in 1983, produces automotive events and driving schools for a number of clients nationwide. The RAO also owns and operates the Bridgestone Winter Driving School.
"These two Cruise Control courses are part of a test program to determine the feasibility of conducting such courses across the state in the future," Colorado State Patrol Colonel Lonnie Westphal said. "The goal of the Cruise Control course is to reduce the total number of youth accidents by developing a fun, 'hands-on' dynamic driving experience that teaches young drivers about the fundamentals of proper driving, and how driving is affected by various elements inside and outside of the vehicle.
"Ultimately, we want students to leave the program understanding that driving is fun, it's a privilege that provides tremendous freedom," he said. "But without proper training and continuous attention behind the wheel, it's a privilege that can carry severe consequences."
The classroom instruction taught by the CSP officers will focus on getting attendees to adopt safer driving practices on all surfaces with special emphasis on ice and snow covered roads. The course will also encourage drivers to take responsibility for their own behavior in various driving situations, and to be aware of many of the typical hazards drivers encounter on Colorado highways.
"The number one cause of death in the U.S. today for 16 to 24 year olds are automobile accidents," CSP Trooper Brad Keadle said. "We want to keep these kids alive. This is a fun, hands-on way to teach them how to control their car."
The Cruise Control course will be a one-day, eight-hour session, and will cost $175. The course will be offered twice this winter season, on Jan. 26 and Feb. 16, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Lunch is included. Each session has only 24 spots and registration is first come, first served.
The curriculum will include braking techniques, strategies to improve cornering ability, skid control including oversteer and understeer, accident avoidance techniques, alertness, drinking and drugs, other drivers on the road, and vehicle inspection, maintenance and seasonal preparation.
Anyone interested in participating needs to provide their own vehicle equipped with mud and snow tires, have a valid driver's permit or driver's license and proof of insurance, and have a signed parental release if under the age of 18.
For more information or to apply to the course, call CSP Trooper Brad Keadle at 826-1305, or the Rally Art Organization at 879-6104. Information is also available at the following websites: www.aliveat25.com, www.csp.state.co.us, and www.winterdrive.com.