Lifestyle

B.R.A.K.E.S. Teen Safety Driving School Continues To Save Lives


Turning tragedy into something positive was all Doug Herbert intended back in 2008 after his two teenage boys were killed in a car crash. Sadly, those young men were just two of the 5,000 teenagers who died in car crashes that very same year – motor vehicle accidents remain the number one cause of death among teens. Although devastated, Herbert pushed through his grief. He made it his mission to start an organization to provide free advanced driver’s education to all teens to prevent future injuries and save lives.

Nearly 14 years later, his non-profit B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe) program has just passed a significant milestone – more than 100,000 teens and their parents have been trained on behind-the-wheel safety. “The amazing growth of our program is the result of the relentless work of our incredible team, as well as volunteers across the country, who have been keenly focused on furthering our mission of making the roadways safer and saving lives,” said Herbert. “It’s also important to recognize the incredible support of corporate partners, like Kia Motors America, and grants from several state Departments of Transportation, General Motors and others.”

The classes are held at venues around the country, and they are all free – attendees don’t even have to bring a vehicle. Instead, students drive new automobiles through an ongoing partnership (that was just renewed). Kia supplies a fleet of 44 cars, including Soul, Rio, and Forte models, so there are no hurdles to dissuade attendance. “Kia is committed to vehicle and road safety, and our partnership with B.R.A.K.E.S. is an important way for us to keep the drivers of America safe, regardless of whether they are behind the wheel of a Kia vehicle,” said Russell Wager, vice president, marketing, Kia Motors America. Kia isn’t the only behind-the-scenes sponsor of B.R.A.K.E.S. Other corporate partners include General Motors, and the school receives grants from several state Departments of Transportation.

While all states require new drivers to have classroom and in-car instruction before being licensed, B.R.A.K.E.S. is not traditional driver’s education. Instead, it’s a hands-on, advanced driver training program taught by professional instructors. Every session lasts for three hours, beginning with classroom instruction followed by practical, behind-the-wheel instruction. The curriculum includes distracted driving awareness, panic braking, drop-wheel/off-road recovery, crash avoidance, and car control/skid recovery – these rank among the biggest causes of crashes for new drivers.

Students find the classes educational and tons of fun – their parents are just as pleased. Word-of-mouth about the program has spread, so most B.R.A.K.E.S. classes are filled well in advance.

Doug is understandably pleased with how well his B.R.A.K.E.S. program has been received. “I am absolutely thrilled with the proven success of the B.R.A.K.E.S. program. I only started after losing my boys with the goal to help my boys’ friends be safer drivers so their families would not have to experience the pain and suffering that my family has endured… I am most proud of the five-year data study from Dr. Friday at U.N.C.C. (the University of North Carolina at Charlotte), showing that our graduates are over 64% less likely to be involved in a car crash. If B.R.A.K.E.S. has saved even one life, I would be happy… but I know we have saved far more than one life. I know my boys would be proud of what we are doing in their memory.”

B.R.A.K.E.S. will conduct 225 classes for teens and their parents nationwide in 2022. To register for a class or view the full upcoming schedule, visit www.putonthebrakes.org.



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