Panther Rookies Tackle B.R.A.K.E.S Defensive Driving Course
The Panther rookies recently stepped away from the gridiron and hit the asphalt at B.R.A.K.E.S. The Panthers rookies were given the chance to skip the long waitlist of B.R.A.K.E.S (Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe) to learn a new playbook – a lesson in defensive driving. They spent the day at zMax Dragway in Concord where their driving skills were put to the test.
B.R.A.K.E.S, a non-profit organization is a AAA Approved Driving School created by former champion drag racer Doug Herbert after he went through the unimaginable tragedy of losing both of his teenage sons in a car crash eight years ago. His grief led him to create a driving program that teaches young drivers the skills needed to react to many situations on the road, in hopes of saving which other families from experiencing a devastating loss like his.
“On January 26, 2008, I thought I was a big deal. Big house on the lake, fastest boat on the lake, Ferrari, Learjet,” Herbert said to the squad of Panthers rookies. “Then all of a sudden my kids got killed in a car crash, and that’s when you analyze what’s important to you.”
The players were put through rigorous simulations including having to accelerate toward a crash and then coming to a complete stop, braking in a car with “ice” tires on the back that skid like one would if stopping on ice, making last minute decisions on which direction to go while driving at high speeds and the personal favorite – a distracted driving course complete with texting, loud music and at times, drunk goggles.
It was a light-hearted day filled with friendly competition and lots of laughs, but the message of safety on the roads was heard loud and clear by the rookies.
Highway Patrol Sergeant Mike Baker brought that message home in his closing remarks to the guys.
“Y’all are superstars, and I’m a Panthers fan. I pull for you every Sunday,” said Baker. “But at the end of the day, you’re human beings. If you get out here and act a fool, wrap your car around a tree or hit somebody head-on and get yourself killed, one of us has to go to your house and deliver that message.”
In the words of Dante Jackson, "It was hard."
B.R.A.K.E.S dedication to preventing injuries and saving lives by training and educating teenage drivers about the importance of safe and responsible driving means taking driver’s education beyond the conventional method. It is a free, hands-on, advanced driver training program taught by professional instructors who train the FBI, secret service, and state troopers for a living and/or perform stunts in movies.
Each weekend event includes four identical sessions to allow parents and teens to pick one that will fit into their busy schedules, and 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.
For more information, including nationwide locations and dates for upcoming events, and to register for a school, please visit: www.putonthebrakes.org. (Please note: Registration requires a deposit of $99 to secure a seat, but it’s fully refundable upon arrival at the school.)