Introducing B.R.A.K.E.S – Teach Teens To Drive Safely

Introducing B.R.A.K.E.S – Teach Teens To Drive Safely


Did you know that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15-17 year olds?  Also, did you know that teens have the highest crash rate out of any age group, with an 89% chance of an accident within their first three years of driving? While those statistics might sound alarming, teens with parents who set driving rules and monitor their activities are half as likely to crash. 71 percent less likely to drive intoxicated, 30 percent less likely to use a cell phone when driving, and less inclined to speed.

Doug Herbert, the founder of B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe) knows these statistics all to well as he created this non-profit organization back in 2008 after his two teen sons were tragically killed in a car accident.  With support from Kia Motors America – which includes 32 Kia vehicles – B.R.A.K.E.S. provides hands-on-defensive driving training at no cost to participants. To date, B.R.A.K.E.S. has trained more than 17,000 teens and their parents.

Click here to view the video from Doug with teen driving questions exclusively for Michigan Mom Living parents:


Doug’s teen driving tips and more:

1. Establish a safe driving contract with your teen.  It is important to keep an open line of communication regarding safe driving habits.  Visit to download a contract today and be sure to display it in a prominent location such as your refrigerator at home as an ongoing reminder to you and your teen.

2. While your teen likely will never admit it, you serve as a role model and often help shape their habits – driving and otherwise.  Remember to always wear your seatbelt, never drink and drive and avoid distractions – including texting!

3. Ensure your teen does not become reliant on cruise control to maintain appropriate speeds.  Cruise control should be avoided when roads are wet, since many systems do not compensate for slick roads and may cause an unintentional loss of control.

4. Encourage your teen to leave space between them and large trucks.  An 80,000-pound truck is not very maneuverable and has many blind spots.  Teach your teen to not squeeze into spaces in front of a truck.  Trucks require a large stopping distance.  Also, teach your teen to not ride alongside a truck, especially along the right side.  Large trucks have many blind spots and often cannot see vehicles alongside them.  This is especially dangerous since trucks have a large turning radius.

5. Encourage your teen to drive defensively.  Remind your teen to keep their eyes up and look through the car ahead of them.  This will help your teen be ready to respond to traffic situations around them.

6. Give your teen a “Hall Pass.”  In other words let them know that you will give them a ride home from ANY bad situation with NO consequence.  Discuss with your teen that they may have made a bad decision that could have had a very bad outcome but calling you for a safe ride home was a good decision.

7. Teach your teen to properly adjust their mirrors to reduce blind spots.  Proper side mirror adjustment slightly overlaps with the rear view mirror, in other words, you will NOT be able to see your rear of your car in your side view mirrors, they will be adjusted farther outward and therefore reducing the blind spots.

8. Practice, practice and more practice.  You spend countless hours practicing for sports including football, soccer, baseball, etc. with your teen.  Driving with your teen is important and critical to helping them develop into a safe and responsible driver.  The more hours a teen can spend behind the steering wheel of a car the better.  Practice makes perfect!

9. Talk to your teen about safe following distances.  Highway speeds require increased following distances.  As a general rule of thumb the minimum following distance should be at least one car length per 10 mile per hour, in other words allow six car lengths for a speed of 60 miles per hour.  At night or during poor visibility or rain these following distances need to be increased.  If someone is tail gating you or following to close pull over or let them pass.  Remember faster traffic is always encouraged to be in the left hand highway lanes and slower traffic and trucks in the right lanes.

10. Keep initial driving lessons to less than 30 minutes and increase the times commensurate with the teens ability.  Do not bring additional passengers along and most importantly, keep your cool.  Expect mistakes and don’t over react or over correct.  Don’t expose your teen driver to heavy traffic or situations that require more advanced capabilities until you decide they are ready to tackle it.

Drivers who go thru the B.R.A.K.E.S. program is 64% less likely to be involved in an accident.  For more information regarding B.R.A.K.E.S. and to get your teens involved, go to today for the safety of your teens and family.


Cynthia Tait

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