Last month I attended an AMAZING event! All you parents of teen drivers will want to hear about this so read on! BRAKES had its first event in the San Francisco Bay Area (though many more have been held in other places) and I was able to join in to share the experience, including photos and video coverage, with you.
BRAKES Pro-Active Driving School Program
B.R.A.K.E.S. was founded by a professional racer Doug Herbert, who lost his two sons in a car crash. The acronym stands for Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe. This non-profit program is an advanced teen drivers training course to help new teen drivers avoid accidents. This includes how to handle skidding, how to panic brake, how to switch lanes in an emergency, the dangers of distracted driving, etc. Sponsored by Kia, this was a program I was anxious to learn about as my daughter will likely be driving in just over a year or so.
The program is free and is open to teens ages 15-19 with their permit or license and at least 30 hours of driving experience. It’s great if parents can attend too. The entirety of the class is only four hours long and consists of part seminar and part hands-one training. During the seminar portion, various speakers go through an interactive presentation and teens are encouraged to write notes on their printouts of the power point deck. A local highway police officer also spoke and shared some sobering facts about some of the tragedies on the road he has seen. It was great to see most of the teens paying attention and engaged.
BRAKES Hands-On Driving Course
Then it was time to get in the cars. Teens go first and join an qualified instructor in the provided vehicles. As the majority of the events are sponsored by Kia, there were several Kia Soul and Kia Fortes on hand. Students are then taken through the course that has been laid out. Parents are later taken onto the course so they can bond with their teens over their shared driving experience. Each section teaches a different skill.
- Accident Avoidance/Slalom Exercise
To prepare students in making a controlled but instant lane change in case an animal or person jumps in front of the car. The second part encourages student to keep their eyes up as they only periodically look down to know when to turn.
- Drop Wheel/Off Road Recovery Exercise
When a car goes off road, sometimes people oversteer to get back onto the road but don’t correct once on. The car ends up turning sharply can causing deadly accidents. This exercise helps teach the teens how to regain control and return to the roadway safely.
- Distraction Exercise
Students are asked to navigate a tight course while being distracted and shown the difference of driving the same course but with no distractions. Special goggles are only on-hand to mimic how drunk driving can affect one’s vision and perception on the road.
- Panic Stop Exercise
Show students how to engage the ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System) and know how to maintain control in case a sudden stop is necessary.
- Car Control and Recovery Exercise
Using a wet skid pad course, this helps prepare teens for driving in bad weather and teaches how to recover from over-steer and under-steer skidding.
I was able to try out the Accident Avoidance/Slalom Exercise and the Panic Stop Exercise. I was so nervous but the instructor was fantastic in getting me ready to do the exercise and gave great insight in how to improve in my reaction. I found out that I tend to overthink things way too much and that slows my reaction time.
I was kind of bummed that I didn’t get to try out the wet skid pad course but it was still fun watching how the other reacted. A sixteen-wheel big rig was on-site as well. Students could ride along and find out for themselves how little visibility there is and how even running over cars feels like nothing in this. This really drives home the point that teens should not underestimate driving near these huge trucks.
Registration and Class Locations
Registration online requires a $99 deposit that is counted as a donation. If you submit your deposit by check, you are free to take that back at the end of the course (there by being “free”) or you can leave it as a donation. This goes to the travel expenses of the instructors, the rental of the venue, gasoline used, and new tires (lots of them). All of the instructors volunteer their time and skills because they have each personally experience a loss due to a teen-involved car accident which could have been avoided. You can really feel their passion and their whole-hearted desire to prevent more deaths.
The program was amazing and I am definitely putting my daughter in this when she gets her license. Plus, having never been in an accident in the 20 years I’ve been driving, these are skills I didn’t have previous to this. This is a vital offering for new teen drivers and it can teach us a parents a thing or two in how to cope with the worsening situations we encounter on the road daily.
For more information on how you can bring this program to your area or how to help the cause, visit putonthebrakes.org.