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Published: Wednesday, 7/7/2010

Driving academy to offer training courses for local teens

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
This specially equipped car will be used to teach youths at Sylvania Southview High School how to be safer drivers for free. This specially equipped car will be used to teach youths at Sylvania Southview High School how to be safer drivers for free.
NOT BLADE PHOTO Enlarge

A celebrated central Ohio driving academy is bringing a condensed - and free - version of its advanced training course to Sylvania Southview High School later this month.

The Key to Safe Driving course, programmed by the Mid-Ohio School, of Lexington, Ohio, and co-sponsored by KeyBank and Kumho Tire, is a condensed version of Mid-Ohio's daylong Teen Defensive Driving Program, which teaches advanced driving skills and emphasizes the danger of distracted driving.

The program's four instructors are all professional drivers and racing instructors, including Adam Andretti, the brother of NASCAR driver John Andretti and nephew of famous Formula One driver Mario Andretti, said Dan Davis, a KeyBank spokesman in Cleveland.

Mr. Davis said he encouraged his company to offer the classes as a community service after enrolling his son in the full-day Mid-Ohio program.

While his son at first was skeptical about devoting a day to such a class, he said his son was very thankful for what he had learned in the session, the spokesman said.

"They do a lot of analogies that the kids really understand," Mr. Davis said.

During the three-hour program that will be offered at Southview on July 21, and at Perrysburg High the following day, students receive a half-hour of classroom training followed by 2 1/2 hours of live practice in small groups with the instructors.

Most of that practice takes place in the vehicles they bring with them, but participants also drive the Honda Skid Car, which simulates driving in slippery conditions.

The distracted-driving curriculum includes information about the danger of driving while sending text messages or talking on a cell phone.

Motor-vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15-to-20-year-olds in the United States, with nearly 5,000 teenagers dying annually in traffic accidents.

Key's announcement of its program notes that while a typical 16-year-old soccer player has had 1,500 hours of coaching, an average 16-year-old driver has received just 15 hours of training.

"KeyBank is committed to investing in local programs that are meaningful and beneficial to the communities it serves," Jim Hoffman, president of the bank's Northwest Ohio-Michigan district.

Both the Southview and Perrysburg classes will accommodate about 110 students, divided into four sessions of between 25 and 28 each and starting about 2 1/2 hours apart, Mr. Davis said.

Registration is open online at keytosafedriving.com or by calling 1-877-793-8667.

On-site signups for any available space start at 7:30 a.m. each day.

All registration is first-come, first-served.

In addition to the instruction, class participants will receive refreshments, a "goodie bag," and the opportunity to win gift certificates to the Mid-Ohio School and for Kumho tires, along with other prizes.



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