Help New Drivers Survive on our Dangerous Long Island Roads

I recently took my son to the DMV for his Learner's Permit test. Of course I was happy that he passed, but as I drove home on Route 347 I started to am I going to teach him what he needs to know to stay safe on roads like this. We all know that Driver's Ed classes just teach the bare basics, and I didn't think that was going to be enough. I consider myself a good, safe driver with enough patience to pass along the skills and knowledge that I have. However, I still didn't think that was going to give him the advantage he needed on these Long Island roads in Suffolk County. Representing seriously injured people involved in car accidents on Long Island for the last 25 years, and seeing the effect on people's lives has made me more proactive when it comes to safety...just ask my kids. But the proof is in the numbers...Over 5,000 teens died in car accidents last year, the leading killer of American teens aged 16 to 19, accounting for more than 40% of deaths in that age range...almost 50% of fatal teen driver car accidents involve only one car; 20% of car passenger deaths involve a teen driver...and the numbers go on.
So I started doing a little research on driving courses that go beyond the usual Driver's Ed classes. I had heard about Skip Barber Racing School (, so I started there. It turns out that they offer a Teen Safety & Survival School. It's a hands on all day course for teens. The teen just needs a Learner's permit and 20 hours of driving time under their belt. The course concentrates on survival skills and street awareness, and includes defensive and emergency driving exercises. The closest track is Lime Rock Park in Connecticut, but this class is not offered there often and fills up quickly. The next closest track is Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Atlanta, they offer the class there year round. The all day class is around $1,000.00.
As I continued my research, I came across another great skills school called Tire Rack Street Survival ( This school offers classes across the country, even at the Nassau County Veterans Memorial Coliseum (coming up on May 23, 2015). Other nearby locations are Bergen County New Jersey and in Stratford, Connecticut (right off the ferry). These schools teach real world, hands on experience. They teach the teens to control their own car under unpredictable situations, showing them how the car will react. This will help them to make better driving decisions and react more appropriately. They will become more aware while driving and learn to anticipate other driver's actions. Here comes the costs only $75.00 for the entire day of school. Needless to say, I signed my son up and we will be taking a road trip this summer. Drivers with a Learner's Permit need to have had their permit for 3 months, and have 25 hours of driving experience before the date of their class.
If you need more reasons to sign your teen driver up for one of these courses, call me. I will be happy to talk to you about the serious car accidents and life changing injuries that I have seen in Suffolk County and Nassau County on Long Island over the years. If these courses can help to decrease the risk, it's hard to not find the time to give our kids an advantage.
My next article will offer some guidance and resources on finding a safe car for the teen driver. Stay tuned.
Keep it safe out there.
Mark T. Freeley, Esq.