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Teens Learn Advanced Driving Skills at Camp

Erin Mairose

Teens in Sioux Falls got to practice driving under hazardous conditions this weekend. The Program 'Ford Driving Skills For Life' allowed teens to sharpen their driving skills through three obstacle courses. From slippery roads to quickly changing lanes, teens learned how to react during driving scenarios.

Sitting behind the wheel in brand new Ford Mustang, Syklar Skovlund suddenly swerved, before hitting the brakes and coming to a stop.

“I didn’t realize how much we would actually spin out. I went in a full circle and was not ready for it and it scared me,” says Skovlund.  

Skovlund is a freshman at Tri-Valley High School. She has her first car and plans to drive to school every day this fall.  She is one of 400 teens participating in the ‘Ford Driving Skills for Life’ program.

Skovlund’s mom Heidi says she hopes the program will make her daughter more cautious on the road.

“I think any parent is so concerned, I just look at the fatalities that happen and there’s just so much to worry about with a new driver on the road, but we have to just have faith that they are careful, they are focused and in instances like this they have gotten to practice in a controlled environment is a great learning place,” says Skovlund.

After learning how to turn quick corners and self-correcting a vehicle, teens then must react quickly to oncoming obstacles. With an instructor, they also experience how driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs reduces coordination and vision.

Credit Erin Mairose

Jim Grahm is manager of Ford’s Driving for Life program.  He says the event creates common situations teens face on the road.

“There are really four key areas that teens tend to lack. They fall in the areas of vehicle handling, so if the car gets loose how do you control it. Recognizing hazards is the second one, so if something happens to you on the highway teens tend to panic but there are other things teens tend to do, go right go left and think about— so we talk about that. Issues around speeding and spacing between vehicles, stopping distances, along with distracted and impaired driving. So all those things are identified by research as things teens tend to struggle with,” says Grahm.

With vehicle crashes the most common cause of teenage deaths nationwide, Grahm hopes the program will help make more teens take precaution before heading out on the road. The event was held in conjunction with the South Dakota Highway Patrol.