A Great Defensive Driving Course for Teenagers: B.R.A.K.E.S. (updated)

B.R.A.K.E.S. — Dedicated to Saving Young Lives

This past Saturday I took my 15-year-old son to a BRAKES defensive driving school at Bristol Motor Speedway.  We really were not sure what to expect, but the experience proved to be fun and educational for both of us.

Bristol Motor Speedway
Bristol Motor Speedway

B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe) is a 501(c)3 organization which provides advanced driver’s education in a program entitled the Teen Pro-Active Driving Course.  Over 5,000 teenagers lose their lives each year across the country in traffic accidents.  While conventional driver’s education is important and valuable, the Teen Pro-Active Driving Course goes beyond that level of training by addressing driving situations responsible for many traffic accidents involving teens.  The course is for teenagers 15-19 who have a learner’s permit or driver’s license with at least 30 hours of driving experience.

BRAKESWe arrived a Bristol Motor Speedway with apprehension and anticipation.   Neither of us knew exactly what to expect, but my son is about to get his drivers license and I felt he needed this kind of training.

We started the four hour course with a video and some classroom instruction.  I have to admit that we both learned something from the classroom instruction.

Then they took us out to the parking lot where a driving course had been designed.  Each of the students were assigned to a group with a leader for every three students.  The instructors even let each parent take a turn on the course.

BRAKES course video 1

The course consisted of five different real world situations: accident avoidance, a distraction exercise, drop wheel recovery, car control and recovery, and panic stop (anti lock braking).  At each exercise the students were shown my their instructor how to properly navigate the exercise, then took turns behind the wheel applying and practicing each technique themselves.  The amount of behind the wheel time was so valuable and allowed each student to try these accident avoidance techniques in a controlled environment with professional feedback.

BRAKES course video 2

If you are a parent with a new teenage driver, I highly suggest going with them to this course.  Look online for the next class near you.

Facts:

Teen drivers have crash rates 3 times those of drivers 20 and older per mile driven. Immaturity leads to speeding and other risky habits, and inexperience means teen drivers often don’t recognize or know how to respond to hazards.

  • A total of 3,023 teenagers ages 13-19 died in motor vehicle crashes in 2011.
  • About 2 out of every 3 teenagers killed in crashes in 2011 were males.
  • Among passenger vehicle drivers ages 16-19 involved in fatal crashes in 2011, 49 percent were involved in single-vehicle crashes.
  • In 2011, 11 percent of all drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were distracted at the time of the crash. Among the distracted drivers 15 to 19 years old, 21 percent were distracted by the use of cellphones at the time of the crash.

Statistics provided by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

U P D A T E

NBC Nightly News did a segment on the B.R.A.K.E.S. school on 27Feb14:

http://www.nbcnews.com/watch/nightly-news/professional-drag-racer-finds-new-way-to-help-young-drivers-173991491751

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