Skidding Kids Learn Safe Driving at BMW’s School for Teens

A two-day course at BMW's U.S. headquarters teaches both safety and fun. A free, trimmed down version is coming to a city near you.

BMW, which bills its brand as “The Ultimate Driving Machine,” is trying to improve the skills of teenagers who may be driving its cars.

The German manufacturer is taking its teen driving school on the road this year, offering a free, two-hour classes in Miami, Washington, DC, Seattle, and other major cities. Go to for reservations and details about the classes — which are offered alongside free and paid BMW-centric programs for adults.

The traveling class is an abbreviated version of a two-day driving school that BMW offers at its U.S. headquarters in Spartanburg, S.C., and near Palm Springs, Calif. To get a first-hand look at the two-day class, I accepted an invitation to attend the Teen Driving Program in Spartanburg. I brought along the most recently licensed teen I know, my stepson-to-be, Gavin.

The $1,295 course started off with a classroom session led by chief instructor Derek Leonard. After a quick meet-and-greet, Leonard stated his goals: Safety, fun, excitement, and education — and likely not in that order.

He then jumped right into specifics, such as the importance of keeping your eyes up and looking where you want to go — not at what you want to avoid! Make sure your seating position is upright and closer to the steering wheel than you think you should be. Hands should always be at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock. And adjust your side mirrors. Eighty percent of drivers mis-adjust their side mirrors and cause overlapping fields of vision, said Leonard.

By mid-morning, Gavin and the other 13 teens were put into teams and led outside to a flock of awaiting M235i’s. As one group learned the quick way about oversteering and understeering on a wet skid pad, the other group practiced lane changes and ABS braking at increasing speeds. By afternoon, the students were competing for points on a challenge course.

Day Two turned the heat up even more with double lane-change exercises, high-speed braking, more skid pad laps, and, finally, what BMW calls a “performance drive.” Teens took turns doing laps on a small road course in several different BMWs, including a Z4 convertible (very popular), a 5 Series sedan, and an X3. By then, there was a clear air of confidence about all the students.

In the end, 14 new drivers had improved road and car control skills — and presumably a greater attachment to BMWs.

Luckily, BMW runs concurrent adult driving schools, so I didn’t just have to observe. Why should the teens have all the fun?

TIME celebrities

Justin Bieber Crashed a High School Prom This Weekend

You better Belieb it

Justin Bieber crashed a Southern California high school’s prom on Saturday night.

According to Hollywood Life, Bieber was on the way to a recording studio that was at the same location as Chatsworth Charter High School’s prom. In an apparently impulsive decision, the pop star decided to show his face — and chaos ensued.

One girl was even lucky enough to get a (extremely short) dance with music idol.

Let’s hope the DJ was wise enough to play “Baby” immediately afterward.

TIME viral

Teens Are Doing the #KylieJennerChallenge and It Must Stop

While Kylie Jenner has asserted that her apparently enhanced lips are natural, teenagers have taken to harming theirs to duplicate the Keeping Up With the Kardashians star’s puffy-pouty look.

If you put your the lips into a small glass container like a shot glass and suck as hard as possible, you can get them to briefly swell in a way that looks like you’ve just had a cosmetic injection. But the results of this do-it-yourself method can also be disastrous, with lips heavily bruised and even tearing.

Many people posted pictures and videos of their own debacles under the hashtag #KylieJennerChallenge, which took off Sunday evening. Some are very graphic, but these are typical examples of the distressing look the challenge can cause:

The trend even crossed gender lines.

After a pair of sisters in Iceland used the technique last month, cosmetic surgeon Pordiis Kjartansdottir told the U.K.’s Metro, “The lips turn blue because blood fills up and they could easily become infected and lose all sensation. It is a really dangerous stunt and I’d advise strongly against anybody trying it.”

Read next: The Kardashians Will Not Stop Until Every Family Member Has a Game

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Transportation

Teen Drivers Get Distracted Far More Easily Than Any Parent Dares to Think

Distraction plays a role in four times as many teen driving accidents than previously estimated

Everyone complains about teenage drivers glued to their cellphones while on the road. But a new report and video from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAA) shows just how dangerously distracted they are — much more than anyone thought.

The study found in 58 percent of moderate to severe crashes involving teen drivers, distractions played a part. That’s four times the previous official estimates.

In 2013, the most recent year for which there is data, 963,000 teenagers crashed a vehicle, killing 2,865 people and injuring 383,000 more.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says driver distraction caused 14% of all crashes, with 7% of those caused specifically by cellphone usage. But the new AAA study — reviewing more than 6,800 videos from inside cars from August 2007 to July 2013 — finds that the prevalence of distraction is way higher.

It says that at least 12% of teen car crashes involved cellphone usage, 5% higher than the official statistic.

The report additionally found that teenagers using a cellphone did not look at the road for an average 4.1 of the six seconds before a crash. When distracted by cellphones, teenagers failed to brake or steer appropriately, with most rear-end collisions caused by slower reaction times. Some 15% of teen crashes involved a driver inattentively chatting with at least one passenger.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: February 10

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Is the technology that is supposed to increase resilience actually making us vulnerable?

By Colin Dickey in Aeon

2. Stock buybacks — usually to prop up a corporation’s perceived value on Wall Street — are draining trillions from the U.S. economy.

By Nick Hanauer in the Atlantic

3. The Navy of the future wants to use lasers and superfast electromagnetic railguns instead of shells and gunpowder.

By Michael Cooney in Network World

4. An after-school culinary skills program gets teens ready for work — and thinking about food in our society.

By Emily Liedel in Civil Eats

5. The next wave of bike lanes in London could be underground.

By Ben Schiller in Fast Co.Exist

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email

TIME sleep

Tech Wrecking Sleep for Scores of Teens, Says Study

Teen Sleep Computer Phone Tech
Getty Images

Maybe they should be dubbed Generation-Zzzz.

Teens who bury their faces for hours on end in laptops, tablets, smart phones or TV screens during the days tend to suffer bad nights of sleep, researchers reported Monday.

“There are indications that today’s teenagers sleep less than previous generations,” said Mari Hysing, co-author and a psychologist at Uni Research Health in Norway. “There are some aspects of electronic devices that may give an additional arousal; the [screen] light may impact sleep hormone production, and also the social communication aspect” may stir adolescents to keep chatting deep into the night …

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Teenagers

‘Wow, Quel Babes!': American Teenagers in Paris in the 1950s

They scorned frog legs, drank Coca-Cola and studied Parisian charm. LIFE photographer Gordon Parks captured their carefree European lives, and experienced a new kind of freedom there, as well

LIFE proclaimed it “one of the world’s foremost colonies of displaced persons.” Its denizens, the magazine said, were a peculiar people who loved adventure, yet preferred “their own way of life.” They spoke their mother tongue among themselves, but sometimes fractured the local language with such abandon that natives risked being “startled by a bilingual ‘Wow, quel babe!'” In fact, locals thought this boisterous clan was “a little crazy,” in large part because they drank “so many Cokes.” The mad colonists were members of that most exotic of tribes: American teenagers. Numbering about 150, they had been transported to France mostly thanks to their fathers’ jobs.

When LIFE dispatched Gordon Parks, a rising star among its staff photographers, to document the tribe’s rites and rituals in the early 1950s, teenagers were still a new and somewhat puzzling phenomenon. Earlier generations of human beings had not, of course, skipped the ages between 12 and 20. But few societies had recognized an intermediate step between childhood and adulthood. “Teenage” was an idea that emerged slowly in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as child labor declined, schooling lengthened and marriage came later and later. The very word entered common speech only in the 1940s. In 1952, when LIFE ran its story on the young Yanks of Paris, it was still spelling “teen-ager” with a hyphen.

Parks’ photographs captured the sports, gossiping and parties that made up a large part of the teenagers’ daily lives. Many captured them in the Paris of the American imagination—on a streetcar in front of the Arc de Triomphe, at a sidewalk café on the Champs-Élysées and in the jazz club that occupied the “shadowy cellar” of the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier.

The portraits that Parks made of the youth were miniature character studies. In all of the photographs, Parks’ presence is undetectable. It was as if his pictures made themselves. Readers could easily believe that they were privy to the teenagers’ most private moments.

LIFE’s sly, knowing text (the reporter was not named) pretended to reassure readers that Paris had not corrupted the teenagers by turning them into young Frenchmen and -women:

Neither boys nor girls think much of frogs’ legs, but they know every place in Paris that makes hamburgers and hot dogs and, while having a snack at a sidewalk café, are inclined to dream of the corner drugstore.

Among many cliques in Paris teen-age society, the best known is a group of girls, 15 to 18 years old, who named themselves the ‘Horrible Six’ when they got together early in the 1950 school term. They have a strict code of dress … Sloppy shoes are not tolerated, bobby sox are taboo. Girls must diet if dumpy, and chipped nail polish is forbidden.

By every girl’s admission, the goal is to keep the dates coming in Paris, build charm for college years in the U.S. and ultimately lead to a nice, home-grown marriage to the right man. Right now the girls don’t think that he’ll be a Frenchman.

Parks went on to become one of LIFE’s most celebrated photographers. His claim to greatness as a photographer rests on the many photo essays that he produced on the pressing issues of poverty and injustice. But Parks, like the magazine he worked for, had many sides. He loved the trappings of success—the travel, the nearly unlimited expense account and the salary that catapulted him into the upper middle class. Like all of LIFE’s photographers, he could produce compelling pictures of hard news in the morning, and light-hearted frivolities in the afternoon.

The years that Parks spent in Paris were a turning point in his life. He was one of many African-Americans, from writers and musicians to cabbies and cooks, who experienced a freedom in the city that they had never found in the United States. He described this critical period in his 1990 memoir, Voices in the Mirror:

I needed Paris. It was a feast, a grand carnival of imagery, and immediately everything good there seemed to offer sublimation to those inner desires that had for so long been hampered by racism back in America. For the first time in my life I was relaxing from tension and pressure. My thoughts, continually rampaging against racial conditions, were suddenly becoming as peaceful as snowflakes. Slowly a curtain was dropping between me and those soiled years.

“I was moving through centuries of history, and not unaware of the possibility of its help in shaping my future. Being a part of it was like feeling at once young and old.”

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.

TIME Crime

Kentucky’s ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ Teens Will Face Charges in Their Home State

Missing Teens Crime Spree
Tammy Martin—AP In this December 2014 file photo provided by Tammy Martin, her son Dalton Hayes poses with his girlfriend Cheyenne Phillips at his family's home in Leitchfield, Ky. Kentucky authorities say two teenage sweethearts suspected in a crime spree of stolen vehicles and pilfered checks across the South have been apprehended in in Panama City Beach, Fla., on Jan. 18, 2015

They're being booked for burglary and trespassing related offenses

After a two-week-long crime spree, Dalton Hayes, 18, and his 13-year-old girlfriend, Cheyenne Phillips, will be returning home to Kentucky to face multiple charges.

Hayes, who was captured in Florida, relinquished his right to an extradition hearing and will be charged with burglary, criminal trespassing and custodial interference, according to NBC News.

Grayson County Sheriff Norman Chaffins said Phillips will be charged with similar crimes “but she’ll be treated differently than Dalton because he’s an adult.”

The couple is suspected of stealing three cars during a two-week crime spree that covered multiple states and drew media comparisons to the infamous 1930s criminal couple Bonnie and Clyde. On Facebook, the Grayson County Sheriff’s office distanced themselves from the comparison, however.

Hayes’ mother, Tammy Martin, said she doesn’t know what went through her son’s mind but was happy he was found.

“The first thing I’m going to do when I see him is hug him and tell him I love him, and then I might smack him,” she said.

[NBC News]

TIME Israel

Israel Sentences Palestinian Kidnapper to Life for Killing of 3 Teenagers

Rally Held In Tel Aviv For Missing Israeli Teenagers
Lior Mizrahi—Getty Images Israelis hold a poster showing the three missing Israeli teenagers, as they attend a rally under the slogan 'Bring Our Boys Home' on June 29, 2014 in Tel Aviv, Israel.

The killing quickly escalated into 50 days of conflict in last summer's Gaza war

An Israeli court sentenced a Palestinian man to life in prison on Tuesday, for the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers, which rapidly escalated into a wider regional war last summer.

Hussam Kawasmeh, a member of Hamas, was sentenced to three life terms for devising the plan to abduct three Israeli teenagers hitchhiking along a road in the West Bank, Reuters reports. The youths were lethally shot and found buried in the West Bank some three weeks after their disappearance.

Two members of the Hamas cell behind the attack were killed in a firefight with Israeli troops, while Kawasmeh, one of the sole survivors, was arrested in a West Bank raid in August.

The killing was quickly followed by a revenge attack against a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem and flared out into 50 days of sustained conflict in the Gaza war last summer.

Read more at Reuters.

TIME Parenting

Study: What Kind of Car NOT To Buy a Teen Driver

Marilyn Angel Wynn—Getty Images/Nativestock

Old cars may be cheaper, but they have fewer safety features, says insurance study

Driving around in an old clunker is one of the teenage rites of passage. But in news that will no doubt gladden the hearts of car salesmen everywhere—and terrify parents—a new study suggests that parents might want to think of getting their young drivers a newer automobile for safety reasons.

The study delved deep into parents’ nightmares and analyzed all the teen driving deaths in data from the U.S. Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) for 2008 to 2012. In that time 2420 kids between the age of 15 and 17 died at the wheel of a car. The researchers, from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in Arlington, Virginia, ascertained the make, model and safety features of each car.

What they found was that almost half of the teen drivers killed on U.S. roads in that period were driving vehicles that were 11 or more years old, and thus often lacked certain safety features, like Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and airbags.

ESC is a relatively new technology that can detect when a vehicle is skidding and applies the brakes to help “steer” the vehicle where the driver intends to go and is especially useful in cases where the driver loses control–something that is more common among drivers who may have recently passed their driving test, say the researchers. According to the study, it can cut the risk of death in single vehicle crashes by around half and by 20% in crashes involving several vehicles.

Teens were also more likely to die in smaller vehicles. When comparing the teens with fatally injured drivers between the ages of 35 and 50, the researchers found that teens were significantly more likely to have been at the wheel of a small or mini car (29% vs 20%) or a mid-size (23% vs 16%), and less likely to have been driving a large pickup (10% vs 16%).

“Larger, heavier vehicles generally provide much better crash protection than smaller, lighter ones,” says the study.

All of this makes sense, because who wants to give their teen driver an expensive new car? And who wants to let them drive the family SUV or other big car? But the potential downside may be worth the risk to property.

The good news is that since 1996, far fewer teens are killed by road traffic accidents—or as road safety officials like to call them “road traffic collisions,” as part of raising awareness that these things are not really accidental; they have a cause and it’s usually human error. But teenagers still have about three times as many police-reported and fatal crashes as adults, when you take into account the distance they drive.

So when looking into buying your kid’s first car, says the study, it might be worth investing in something less vintage and more protective. That doesn’t mean it has to be expensive.”Parents may benefit from consumer information about vehicle choices that are both safe and economical,” says the study. So do your research. And shop around.

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