NEW YORK ( MainStreet) — Gear-heads love driving fast, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says speed-related crashes cost Americans $40.4 billion each year. To boot, car wrecks in general take an annual $300 billion toll, according to AAA.

Always looking for ways to protect our money (and ourselves), MainStreet ventured up to the legendary track at Lime Rock Park in Salisbury, Conn., where Skip Barber Racing School hosts one of its performance driving courses.

We hit the skid pad, performed braking exercises and even romped on the pedal to take a Porsche 911 Carrera around the race course.

"It's really adrenaline pumping, like you're going fast—like you can't do that in your normal car, really," said Paul Masi, Jr., a 19-year-old student at Central Connecticut State University who participated in the course. "You don't want to hurt it really, cause it's like your baby. So being out here and having a powerful car, it's kind of fun to really let loose and just kind of put the foot to the floor and let the car do what it wants."

Taking the car to the brink, though, can familiarize the driver with how the machine operates when taxed at high speeds or when presented with sudden obstacles. These lessons, experienced on the track, can help a driver avoid damage in a jam.

"I never really thought a car could do that," he said. "If...I'm ever in that situation again, I know how to get out of it."

Additional time spent in the classroom—or working with my thrilling Jaguar F-Type—allowed the pupils to understand how to achieve maximum efficiency by taking a curve at its apex and maintain control when accelerating.

This safety becomes all the more important when people consider their priorities.

"Learning to drive safely here—I guess it more relates to now having kids in the car and possibly being able to avoid situations on the highway and roads in New York City and the states from other drivers," said Simon Bercoe, a contractor living in Brooklyn's Park Slope neighborhood with his wife and two young children.

Improved driving precision from such courses can have astronomical economic effects, according to Steve Weisbart, senior vice president and chief economist at the Insurance Information Institute.

"These days, people have injuries [from car accidents] that cause them to lose time from work, pay money out of pocket even if they have insurance," he said. "You would improve your own personal financial system. Avoiding auto accidents may mean that you will not only live longer but have a healthier life as you live it."

But it's not just individuals who benefit. In addition, there may be dependents who rely on the current income earner or future income earner behind the wheel.