Car Control Clinic

Purpose: The purpose of a Car Control School is to enhance a driver’s awareness of the conditions around him and develop his ability to respond quickly and properly should those conditions threaten him.

Target Audience: Primarily, we would like to reach newly-licensed drivers to help them understand the seriousness of their responsibilities on the road toward other drivers and to their passengers (studies show teenage accident likelihood rises alarmingly with the addition of passengers to the new driver’s vehicle). One or both parent(s) should participate in the event so that the teen can discuss their new knowledge and skills with an adult who understands the experience they jointly shared.

That being said, the school is also useful for everyone else. Join us if you don’t need the adrenaline rush from running against the clock in an autocross or have no need for the higher speeds offered at one of our on-track driving schools. Let us teach you how to effectively respond to potentially threatening highway situations. “Physics is physics” learn some basics at this school first, then move on to the more aggressive venues.

Knowledge Gaps & Misconceptions: Private and high school driver education classes teach the rules of the road, an understanding of road/traffic-control signs and some very basic driving skills. The teaching environment is controlled as much as possible to minimize distractions from the course of instruction. Students can easily develop a sense that simply applying the rules of the road will provide a shield to keep them safe. In fact, it’s mostly the other driver’s observance of the rules of the road that may provide the student with some security. Unfortunately, new drivers are generally not taught how to quickly recognize and appropriately respond when their environment is headed out of control. Logically, the skills needed to avoid disaster are best learned ahead of time, not when an automotive “oh, my gosh!” is imminent.

The Car Control School is designed to teach all students that the act of driving a motor vehicle is a mentally intensive activity. Their car is not a sofa with wheels, to magically transport them to a destination. They must pay strict attention to their actions and those of the drivers around them. Through classroom and in-car instruction, students are taught how to be observant of their surroundings and their vehicle. They learn how and why a car will respond to their inputs to the steering wheel, gas pedal and brake pedal – the physics of car control. The school provides a way to prepare for the unexpected, and to practice accident avoidance skills.

Goals: You will learn what the car sounds like and feels like as the limits of adhesion are exceeded. You will then learn what the car sounds like and feels like as the limits of adhesion are closely approached. Ultimately, you will learn to drive the car under control just within these limits of adhesion. Learn how to drive smoothly AND then learn how abrupt you can be with the car while still maintaining control.

Teaching Method: The program begins with a general explanation of the day’s activities, safety issues, and how the in-car activities will be conducted. Classroom instruction will include a definition of terms to be used throughout the day, then two sections called “Getting ready for trouble” and “Reacting to trouble”. There will be a discussion of each in-car exercise so that you understand what the exercise is designed to teach and how best to perform it. Questions are encouraged. Teaching aids include overhead slides and exercise descriptions with drawings for clarification. Classroom work will be enhanced by driving the exercises with an in-car coach and practicing the concepts of car control.

Driving Exercises: Exercise elements have been designed to allow you to physically experience the vehicle dynamics theory explained in the classroom. Using orange traffic cones, these elements are laid out in the parking lot for you to negotiate. An experienced coach will ride with you to explain the exercise, offer corrections, praise accomplishment and answer questions immediately. With this real-time feedback, learning is enhanced. All of the coaches have years of experience in evaluating car control.

The exercise elements are laid out with safety buffer zones around them to provide you a large margin of error, keeping you out of trouble. The exercise area is isolated to preclude access by other than school participants. The pavement in the exercise area is wet down to minimize tire adhesion. This condition allows you to experience the vehicle’s responses to driver inputs at much lower speeds than in the dry.

Results: This program has been attended by drivers with less than a year’s experience and by drivers with over 40 years of experience. Comments on the schools’ critique sheets have praised the concept and the training. Teenagers actually have FUN attending an all-day physics lesson and leave the event with a more mature and responsible attitude toward their driving. “Everything was great, learned a lot, wish there was more time, too much fun to stop at the end and go home”, Tim N. – 1 year of driving. The veterans comment that they never really understood vehicle handling and were very surprised at the maneuvers they could execute and the car control techniques they could learn in just one day. “Excellent. Everyone should experience a BMW Safety School”, Al G. – 42 years of driving.

‘It was my loss, due to scheduling issues, that I could not attend the BMW Car Control Clinic that you hosted last Saturday. My husband, Kurt, and teen-age son, Paul, attended and drove our 2000 Infiniti G20. They called me periodically to rave about how much fun they were having and learning so much from all of you. They both indicated that we, every member in our family, should attend this class again and every teen-ager or newbie driver should as well. Kurt handles training in the firm we both work for and he complimented your association for doing a good job.’ – Sarah Billings

‘It was great, Erin is going to be a better driver for the rest of her life because of the class! Thanks Dave’

‘Well, this is my youngest of three kids and the last one to go through your program.  Thanks for your time and effort in doing this all these years.  We’ll never know how many lives and accidents that have been avoided as a result but I think we can comfortably say it’s a considerable amount.’

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