Pickerington Times-Sun

Teen driving course offered at PHS North


A local bank branch and a Lexington, Ohio-based professional driving school next month will offer a free driver safety course to teenagers at Pickerington High School North.

KeyBank Corp. and the Mid-Ohio School will provide a free driver's education course July 15 aimed at improving teen driving skills and raising awareness about the importance of proper training for young drivers.

The instruction, which also is sponsored by Kumho Tire, will take place during a series of approximately three-hour sessions from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at PHS North.

Registration is available online at www.keytosafeteendriving.com, or by calling (877) 793-8667.

"We just want to create safer roads for our students and people who are going to be driving for the next 40, 50, 60 years," said Jesse Ghiorzi, media and communications coordinator for the Mid-Ohio School, which provides professional driving and riding instruction to drivers and motorcyclists at all skill levels.

This is the second year KeyBank and the Mid-Ohio School have teamed to offer the teen program, although it's been expanded this year.

Last year, the course was offered at Hilliard Davidson High School. Based on the response, Ghiorzi said, organizers decided this year to offer courses at PHS North and Hilliard Darby High School, as well as to teens in the Cleveland, Toledo and Indianapolis areas.

"KeyBank is committed to investing in local programs that are meaningful and beneficial to the communities it serves," said Bob Lane, president of KeyBank's central Ohio District. "Key is pleased to sponsor Key to Safe Teen Driving because it is designed to improve teens' driving skills and make the roads safer for drivers of all ages."

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 5,000 U.S. teens die each year in traffic accidents, and motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 15- to 20-year-olds. Ghiorzi said the average 16-year-old soccer player has had 1,500 hours of coaching, while the average 16-year-old driver has had only 50 hours of driver training.

"There are 20 spots available for each session," Ghiorzi said. "All of our instructors are former or current professional race car drivers. They've been driving all their lives and they know what they're talking about."

The event in Pickerington will be open to teens who have temporary permits or a driver's license.

Participants will receive driver's training classroom instruction covering issues such as the importance of road-safe tires, as well as how to properly brake and accelerate.

From there, students will be led through a series of auto-safety drills using their own vehicles. These sessions will include instruction on emergency lane changes and braking on wet surfaces.

Participants also will drive the Honda "skid car," which simulates driving in slippery conditions, and learn about the dangers of "distracted driving," such as driving while texting or talking on a cell phone.

"We are excited that KeyBank is bringing Key to Safe Teen Driving to our school," PHS North principal Cindi Goldhaber said. "A large portion of our student population drives on a regular basis. This program should improve the driving skills of some of our students and raise awareness about the importance of proper training for teen drivers."

In addition to learning advanced driving skills, participants will receive refreshments, a goodie bag and the opportunity to win Kumho tires, a gift certificate to the Mid-Ohio School and other prizes.