Photography provided by B.R.A.K.E.S.
As most of you know, I have been a professional driving intructor for three years now starting at the Porsche Experience Center Los Angeles as the first and only full-time female driving instructor. But even before starting at Porsche, I spent a weekend at the B.R.A.K.E.S. school learning what right-seat coaching is all about. It was a great experience. Not only do I instruct for B.R.A.K.E.S., I also am writing stories for them. This story is the first and I hope it enspires you to bring the teen in your life out for a day at B.R.A.K.E.S. that could potentially save their lives.
Why shouldn’t Driver’s Education be fun? It’s such a stressful and critical time in a young adults life, shouldn’t this be one of the most exciting things we learn? It isn’t, and for most, it’s the only training we get as far as driver safety and technique is concerned. Sure, our parents teach us some things but not everyone has a parent with the time or maybe the skill set to really tech us life saving techniques. And in many school districts across the U.S., Driver’s Education has been canceled or is in the process of being canceled. That’s where a truly special school comes in called B.R.A.K.E.S. Pro-Active Teen Safe Driving School.
The school was founded by Doug Herbert, NHRA drag racing star, who lost his two young sons Jon and James in a tragic car crash in January of 2008. The result of this horrendous tragedy is B.R.A.K.E.S., a driving program that helps to prevent other families from experiencing similar heartbreak by teaching young drivers more conscientious and confident skills behind the wheel.
“B.R.A.K.E.S. is good therapy for me. Knowing that my boys Jon & James are helping save other teen lives means the world to me. I do not want another parent to get that call letting them know that their teen driver was killed in a car crash.” – Doug Herbert
Since 2009, the organization has taught over 40,000 teens and their families. Paul Friday, PhD, UNC-Charlotte claims that “teens graduating B.R.A.K.E.S. are 64% less likely to have a crash in the first three years of driving.” That’s a huge number, considering the inexperience behind the wheel of teen drivers.
Becoming distracted while driving is probably what we associate most with teens, but adults do it too. This is one of the great things B.R.A.K.E.S. teaches. There is a distraction course, where an instructor will do everything possible to distract the teen driver while they attempt to navigate a closed course. Most end up off the “road,” slowing down to a crawl to complete the distracting task or going so slow it would be impossible to replicate safely on normal speed limit roads let alone the freeway. It’s quite the wake up call to think that those three seconds they looked down to change the radio station or read a text caused them to end up off the side of the road, or worse. This exercise is done going less than 10 miles an hour and makes such a big impact on teen drivers participating.
B.R.A.K.E.S. doesn’t just teach teens how to become more defensive drivers, parents also participate to help break old habits and become better, safer drivers. In 2019 alone, there will be over 160 classes with a projected close to 200 in 2020.
If reading this hasn’t convinced you to sign up every teen driver in your life, visit the website www.putonthebrakes.org to see when a B.R.A.K.E.S. school will be near you.
Take it from Doug, “The classes are free. Teen drivers will learn things that will save their life at a B.R.A.K.E.S. class. So the fact is there are a million reasons why you should bring your teen driver to a B.R.A.K.E.S. class and not one acceptable reason of why you shouldn’t.”