High School Safe Driver Program at Sears Point Raceway

SONOMA, Calif. (Feb. 21, 2000) - California's tough new Graduated Driver Licensing Law (GDL) is apparently having its desired effect. According to AAA's study, the number of teenage passenger deaths and injuries, when 16-year-olds were behind the...

SONOMA, Calif. (Feb. 21, 2000) - California's tough new Graduated Driver Licensing Law (GDL) is apparently having its desired effect. According to AAA's study, the number of teenage passenger deaths and injuries, when 16-year-olds were behind the wheel, dropped 21.4 percent statewide since GDL was enacted in 1998. In the nine Bay Area counties, the number was even more impressive, with an overall average decline of 25.7 percent.

"Crashes are the leading killer of teens ages 15 to 19, responsible for one in three deaths," said Merry Banks, manager of AAA's Traffic Safety Department. "California's Graduated Driver Licensing law and enhanced driver education are key elements to improving the safety of young drivers on our highways."

But an improved licensing system is not the only answer, as teenagers also need the proper training before getting behind the wheel. Today, less than 50 percent of public high schools offer driver education. That is why AAA has partnered with Sears Point Raceway, CHP and the Jim Russell Racing Driver's School for the "High School Safe Driver Program."

Up to 400 students from eight Bay Area High Schools will descend upon Sears Point Raceway February 26-March 1 for the program, which offers cutting edge training and challenges teen drivers to be a part of the solution.

Students, under the direction of professional instructors form the Jim Russell Racing Drivers School, will get behind the wheel and learn enhanced braking, skid control skills, and accident avoidance techniques all within the safe confines of Sears Point Raceway. Students will also receive classroom instruction on vehicle dynamics. After completing the program, professional race car drivers will take the students for thrilling "hot laps" around the raceway's twisting 12-turn, 2.52-mile road course, which is home to the Dodge/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Winston Cup, June 21-24.

"Teenagers tend not to have a strong sense of their own mortality and when you combine that with their relative lack of experience behind the wheel it's a huge area of concern, both for young drivers and those who share the road with them," said Steve Page, president and general manager at Sears Point Raceway. "This program offers tremendous benefits, not only in basic driving skills, but also in developing respect for the power of an automobile and how easy it is to lose control."

The eight Bay Area schools participating in this year's program and their dates/times of instruction are:

Fairfield High School-Fairfield (Monday, Feb. 26, 8 a.m.)
New Technology High School-Napa (Monday, Feb. 26, 1 p.m.)
San Marin High School-Novato (Tuesday, Feb. 27, 8 a.m.)
Terra Linda High School-San Rafael (Tuesday, Feb. 27, 1 p.m.)
Del Amigo High School-Danville (Wednesday, Feb. 28, 8 a.m.)
Temescal High School-Napa (Wednesday, Feb. 28, 1 p.m.)
San Mateo High School (Thursday, March 1, 8 a.m.)
Junipero Serra High School-San Mateo (Thursday, March 1, 8 a.m.)

- Sears Point Raceway

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