Putting the B.R.A.K.E.S. on Teen Deaths

Memorial Day begins the “100 Deadliest Days” for teen drivers, the period when teen crash deaths historically climb. During this time, the average number of deaths from car crashes involving teen drivers, ages 16-19, increases by 16 percent per day compared to other days of the year. 

One North Carolina organization dedicated to this issue — and really making a difference — is B.R.A.K.E.S., a Guidestar Gold-rated 501(c)(3) charity and AAA Approved Driving Schools (see listing at right). It was created by multi-time top fuel drag racing champion Doug Herbert, who experienced the unimaginable tragedy of losing both of his sons, 17-year-old James and 12-year-old Jon, in a car crash eight years ago. He resolved to create a driving program that gives teens skills and confidence behind the wheel — and hopefully prevent other families from experiencing similar heartbreak.

B.R.A.K.E.S. takes driver’s education beyond the conventional method. It’s a free, hands-on, advanced driver training program taught by professional instructors who train the FBI, secret service and state troopers. Instructors also race for a living and/or perform stunts in movies. Each session includes four hours of training, starting with a short, 45-minute classroom presentation followed by lots of driving time in a fleet of new cars provided by Kia.

Herbert doesn’t intend on slowing down. North Carolina continues to be the home base and one of their busiest locations.

“We also provide monthly schools at zMax Dragway in Concord and regular events at the State Trooper training facility in Raleigh,” he says. “In addition, we added a school Charleston, S.C., for the first time this year. It was made possible with the help of the Rabon Family, who lost their son Tripp in a car crash about a year ago.”  

B.R.A.K.E.S. has trained more than 22,000 teens all across the country in the last eight years. Parents are required to attend training with their teen, and often learn as much as their student.

“That’s more than 50,000 safer drivers on the road because of B.R.A.K.E.S.,” explains Herbert. “I think that’s a fitting tribute to my sons, whose lives continue to make a difference through the charity.”

(May/June 2017 issue of Go Magazine)

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