Back in the spring I spotted an event on Facebook that sounded intriguing. It was called kartSTART, and the idea behind it is to teach kids age 10 and up the basics of how cars work so that they understand car control well before they have to do it on public roads. This seemed to me to be such a simple, logical way to help prepare my kids for their future behind the wheel, I wondered why I hadn’t heard of it before.
Everybody inherently knows that teen drivers are more likely to be in accidents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S., young people, aged 15-24, represent just 14% of drivers on the road, but responsible for 28-30% of the costs of motor vehicle accidents.
It’s not all down to skill, of course. Young people are less responsible when it comes to speed, seat belts, and drinking. They are more likely to be in accidents when their friends are in the car with them, too. I have to hope that my parenting will prepare my kids for those things, but giving them a chance to become comfortable with driving before they hit the road is another piece of the driving safety puzzle that I think gives them a distinct advantage.
Cars are big, heavy, and complicated. Mistakes can be costly, and even fatal. Go karts, on the other hand, are small, light, and simple. Russ Bond, a retired professional racing driver, runs the kartSTART program with the help of several instructors and staff. He gives the kids (and adults) a good run-down on how the karts work, and the basics of driving. He then brings the kids out to the track to give them a taste of real driving for the first time. For the better part of an hour, the kids (and even some of the parents) are on the track, getting a feel for acceleration, breaking, and turning at progressively higher speeds.
As a parent and avid driver myself, signing my daughter up was a no-brainer. We had a terrific half day with Russ and his staff. The experience left Story with a keen understanding for how driving really feels, and she is desperate for more time behind the wheel.
KartSTART is presented by Toyota, which must be helpful for keeping the costs low, because the $79.00 price for a half day of driving, including lunch, was an absolute bargain and a great investment in my daughter’s driving education.
If you can, be sure to sign up next summer!