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WTOL Investigation: Safe Behind the Wheel

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Lexington, Ohio -

By Brad Harvey - bio | email | Facebook

Posted by Lisa Strawbridge - email

LEXINGTON, OH (WTOL) - Retired Ohio State Trooper Czerniakowski, who has seen every accident imaginable, got extra training for his teenaged son when he began driving.

In a typical year in Ohio, 90,000 teens are involved in auto accidents. This state trooper turned to defensive driving training, so his son could practice high-risk situations.

The first exercise in emergency braking. Michael Czerniakowski, 16, is a track star at St. Francis de Sales High School. Though he admits he's a little nervous to be spending time on this track.

Instructor  David Roush said, "It's not: 5,6,7,8,9,10... It's 9-10. Get on those brakes immediately! This time wait a little longer before you go to brake." And Michael does it again and again.

The Honda Teen Defensive Driving Program is an entire day of instruction, both in the car and in the classroom. Michael said he's learning a lot from it. "I have to start braking a little sooner. But I also have to find that sweet spot where it doesn't lock up, but I'm still getting 100 percent brake."

The course covers intense instruction in emergency lane change, slalom and even simulated icy roads. "This is one of the most intimidating exercises," said Roush. "This is the skid car, and it has these outriggers. The instructor can pull the car off the ground, simulating what it's like to drive on ice."

It's as close to real world, white knuckle driving as it gets. For Michael, the very real potential of all those stories his dad has told him over the years becomes real. But the more mistakes he makes there, the fewer he'll make when it really counts.

The class is taught at Mid Ohio Raceway in Lexington, OH. It costs $350, and there's a price break to have two teen drivers enrolled. Additionally, some insurance policies offer discounts when the course is completed.

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