Why Teen Parents Should Know About B.R.A.K.E.S.

How one father turned tragedy into a teachable movement
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In January 2008, NHRA drag racing star Doug Herbert got the phone call every parent fears. His two sons, Jon and James, had been in a car accident. Neither survived.

As Herbert fought his way through grief, he became resolute to train his sons’ friends in defensive driving skills. He trained 50 teens that year, and the word spread, along with the demand. Doug heeded the call and started B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe) to reduce the staggering number of teen fatalities each year with their Teen Pro-Active Driving Curriculum. Since then, B.R.A.K.E.S. has provided free, hands-on advanced driver training to over 100,000 teens and parents.

Here’s what parents should know:

  • According to the National Safety Council, 50% of teens will be involved in a car crash before graduating high school
  • A UNC Charlotte study of B.R.A.K.E.S. concluded that teens who complete the program are approximately 64% less likely to get into an auto accident in the three years following their participation.
  • B.R.A.K.E.S. is a nonprofit organization and the weekend training is free to all participants. All they require is a refundable deposit to secure your spot.
  • B.R.A.K.E.S. is for teens ages 16 – 20, who have a learner’s permit or driver’s license and at least 30 hours of driving experience. One parent (even for participants over 18) must attend and complete the course with their child.
  • The course is an advanced training, defensive driving curriculum not offered in conventional driver’s education. During the weekend training, teens and their parents get to handle a vehicle in adverse driving conditions in a controlled environment.
  • Exercises and experiences in the curriculum include:
    • Collision Avoidance using a slalom curriculum to teach elevated steering control
    • Distraction Exercise to teach increased focus and concentration
    • Wheel Drop-Off Recovery Exercise to teach the proper method of retaining control when the vehicle drops a wheel off a highway shoulder
    • Panic Stop Exercise to give teenagers safer and more controlled responses when braking in an emergency
    • Car Control and Recovery Exercise that teaches the skills necessary to maintain or regain control in wet or icy road conditions.
  • Instructors come from various backgrounds, including current and former members of law enforcement, professional racecar drivers, and stunt drivers from film and television. All have extensive experience in advanced driver training and defensive driving instruction.
  • B.R.A.K.E.S. weekends are held once a month at Zmax Dragway and Charlotte Motor Speedway. Classes fill very quickly, and you can find the schedule here.
  • Some insurance companies offer discounts for those who complete the program. Upon completion of the program, you will receive a certificate to present to your insurance agent.

To learn more about B.R.A.K.E.S., find their upcoming schedule, or make a charitable donation to support their work, visit their website.