Track safety is very important in the auto industry. Because our cars of today are so finely tuned, much like our athletes, more tracks allow novice drivers to come out to the track and test their skills because they just can’t get to these speeds on normal roads without the possibility of a ticket or losing their licenses. This is great for the tracks because so many people are now willing to pay the money to test their skills at the track and see how their driving matches up with their new high performance vehicle that has been limited by the roads until now and yearns to be unleashed.
The problem with inexperienced or even novice drivers coming to the track and trying their hand at driving has many layers. The first problem is most drivers have no real understanding of how the track works and what speeds they will be safe driving at. They want to push the gas pedal and never touch the brakes, but that is not what driving is about. Another problem is the fact that tracks have had such lax instruction and safety standards that drivers typically doesn’t have much preparation time in order to be ready to drive on the track.
The results of these laid back standards, lack of prep time, and complete lack of understanding of the track itself have resulted in many crashes by drivers in their own cars, many of them fatal and unfortunately some incidents that have included the loss of lives by driving instructors.
— Road & Track (@RoadandTrack) August 28, 2015
If you think driving on a track is easy and it’s not something to take seriously, you should talk to Don Salisbury. Don has been a driving instructor for over thirty years and has helped many drivers learn how to drive on the track. During this time he has seen many problems that he knows needs to be fixed in order to allow the tracks to become safer and drivers to be better informed to keep themselves and their instructors safer on the track.
The first part would be much better classroom work and more stringent requirements. This would at least give some understanding of what actually would take place on the track, but the next part for any driver would be some actual track work and experience.
That next part would involve students to work the corners at a track and see exactly how they work. This would give a much better understanding of what is going to happen when behind the wheel. Another factor in this corner issue is the needs to have two flagmen work each corner in order to respond more quickly to crashes and drivers that need medical attention.
A central governing or managing body is also needed for these open race days in order to have all the different clubs that run their own days follow one set of rules which would govern any track with an open race day. These rules would then be taught in the classroom part of the day in order to make sure drivers understood what they needed to know to be safe on the track and have them all following the same rules.
Finally, Salisbury states that the tracks need to have speed limits. He even suggests a 90 mph speed limit for novice drivers and 100 mph for those who are more experienced. With so many of these drivers bringing their own car to the track that is not intended to crash at high speeds or could not withstand an end over end catastrophic incident these lowered speeds ensure better safety for drivers and instructors in case of an accident or a misstep on the track.
Adding these and many other regulations can help keep the tracks fun and exciting while maintaining some level of safety. If a governing body or track does not do this themselves, sooner or later the government and lawyers will step in and the fun will most likely be reduced even more.