When Ingrid Lee, then 16, overcorrected on a turn, sent her car into a fishtail and skidded sideways into the ditch one winter day three years ago, her father, Wayne, did not panic or get mad. Actually, he laughed, said Ingrid, who lost control of her car during a teen driving course held at Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount.

"This was a lesson that was priceless," said Wayne, a longtime driving instructor through the North Star Chapter of the BMW Car Club of America, which is hosting the third annual Tire Rack Street Survival driving course for teenagers at the college Saturday.

The daylong clinic picks up where basic driver's ed classes end, giving students behind-the-wheel practice at controlling their own cars on the college's 2.8-mile driving track. It features a lane-change area with stoplights and a skid pad that can be flooded and iced in winter.

Asked why they'll spend hours volunteering outside in January, program instructors, who are trained BMW Club members, point to the statistics: Car crashes are the leading cause of death for Minnesota teens, with 204 killed from 2004 through 2006.

For 16- and 17-year-olds, the rate of traffic fatalities is 4.5 times higher than it is for adults, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

The North Star Chapter's course is the only winter class Street Survival offers, said Bill Wade, the program's national manager. "Most of the chapters say, 'Sure, we'll do one, but it's going to be one when it's warm,'" he said. Nationally, the nonprofit program has taught close to 3,000 teenagers since it was founded in 2002, he said.

Street Survival and other programs like it aim to put student drivers in an environment where they can lose control of their cars, stay safe and learn something from the experience. Basic driver's ed classes, by contrast, "teach you how to pass the test," Wade said. "They don't teach you skid control or accident avoidance or vehicle dynamics."

The course is split between classroom and driving time, with each student paired with an instructor.

Ingrid Lee, who is now 19, said she first took the class because she didn't feel comfortable with her driving ability, and learned so much that she came back two more times. "The change in how you drive from the beginning of the day to the end of the day is just huge," she said.

Sarah Lemagie • 952-882-9016