Belle Isle, MI (CBS Detroit) – When NHRA drag racing star Doug Herbert lost his two young sons, Jon and James, in a tragic car crash in January of 2008, his grief led to his resolve to create a driving program which would help to prevent other families from experiencing similar heartbreak. By teaching young drivers more conscientious and confident skills behind the wheel.
Put on the brakes! Be responsible and keep everyone safe. It’s a mission to prevent injuries and save lives by training and educating teenage drivers, and their parents, about safe driving.
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“I started this program back in 2008, I was a full-time NHRA Top Fuel racer, racing around the country in 330mph race cars,” explains Doug Herbert, Founder of B.R.A.K.E.S. Teen Safe Driving Program. January 26th, 2008 my two teenage boys were killed in a car crash, less than a mile from my house. And I decided at that time that I wanted to teach their friends about being safe and responsible drivers.”
Herbert wasted no time in putting his mission into motion. Originally, Herbert’s intentions were to train his son’s friends and to give them additional advanced ‘behind the wheel’ skills and increase their decision-making ability. In 2008, the first year of B.R.A.K.E.S., Doug focused on training Jon & James’s friends, and 50 teens were trained.
The word soon spread and requests came to Herbert from hundreds of other parents wanting this same type of life-saving training for their teen drivers, so Herbert made the decision to expand the program with the new goal of training every teen driver. With the help of Jon & James’s friends, he created B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe), a 501(c)3 organization which provides free advanced driver’s education in a program entitled the B.R.A.K.E.S. Teen Pro-Active Driving Curriculum.
“So that’s really where this started, the desire to make sure that another parent didn’t get that phone call that I got,” says Herbert. “We’re trying to get teenagers to realize that driving can be really fun, and it’s also a big responsibility because you’re in a 3,000-pound vehicle that can be very dangerous.”
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“As an automotive company, we want to be a huge part in reducing accidents, crashes, and fatalities,” says Melissa Smith, Community Affairs Lead for Denso. “We do a lot of community outreach and education on awareness, pedestrian and bike safety. With road crashes being the leading cause of death for teenagers, being able to be part of the solution for that is huge for Denso.”
“GM has a vision of a world with zero crashes, and many of the initiatives that we have in place are all about safe teen driving,” explains Steve Kiefer, Chairman of the Kiefer Foundation. “Safe vehicles, and education on driver safety. This program is a perfect example that gives General Motors an opportunity to give back to the Detroit community. By hosting these programs that are free to the students, they’re able to train kids right here in the community.”
Adds Herbert, “Car crashes are unfortunately the number one cause of death for teenagers, so that’s what we’re trying to change here.”
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