Those are mean streets out there, and a field service tech who sallies forth at all hours of the day and night, driving into crime-filled neighborhoods with a trunkload of expensive medical device parts, requires top-notch training to reach customers and return in one piece. Many high-performance driving schools can hone the edge of your behind-the-wheel skills. This one may help you dodge a bullet.

f02a.jpg (9760 bytes)Two tons of Crown Victoria lurched to a stop as I slammed on the brakes in front of a line of orange traffic cones that represented bad guys with submachine guns. I shifted the car into reverse and put both hands at the “3 o’clock” position of the steering wheel. “Accelerate up to 45,” coached the voice from a walkie talkie Velcro’d to the dashboard, and as I reached that speed I felt the big car lighten a bit on its tires. The radio voice called, “Turn the wheel … NOW!”

I snapped the steering wheel to the left and as the rear wheels dug in, the front of the huge Vic floated to the right, through a 180 degree arc, and in a split-second, I was pointed away from the attacking cones. As I straightened the wheel, my right hand dropped to shift the transmission into “drive” and I sped away. “Great,” said my coach over the radio. “But only use that as the last resort.”

Pulling off a J-Turn like Burt Reynolds is only a small part of the skills taught at Advanced Driving and Security, Inc. — ADSI for short. They call it “The only school where the marks you make save lives!” and train students on retired runways at the former Naval Air Station in Quonset Point, R.I. Anthony Ricci is the school’s president and was my coach for a day, teaching me how to move a police-package Ford Crown Victoria sedan around traffic cones with the grace of Fantasia’s dancing hippo. He also taught me to start my car before taking time out to lock my seat belt.

Ricci’s customers include bodyguards and chauffeurs who protect executives of Fortune 100 companies. Then there are fleets that want to improve the odds for business drivers, reducing overall downtime as well as reducing insurance premiums. ADSI gets civilians who take classes in car control, and there’s growing interest in the school’s “nanny” class that teaches driving skills and personal security.

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