Kia has recently announced that the company will expand their existing relationship with B.R.A.K.E.S., a non-profit organization that provides free, hands-on defensive driving workshops to teen drivers in cities nationwide. Through this partnership, both organizations hope to double the number of teens (and parents) that receive this potentially life-saving training.
Kia will be donating more cars to the program so that B.R.A.K.E.S. will be able to significantly increase the number of classes offered.
Why Teens Need B.R.A.K.E.S.
In 2008, NHRA drag racing star Doug Herbert tragically lost his two young sons, Jon and James, in a highway accident. This terrible event made him determined to create a driving program which would help to prevent other families from experiencing this kind of heartbreak by educating young drivers about safety behind the wheel.
B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe) was born. This organization provides free advanced driver's education through a program called the Teen Pro-Active Driving Course. This program goes beyond the level of training offered in conventional driver's education training by addressing the specific driving situations responsible for many traffic accidents involving teens.
This is a valuable and necessary service because, according to data gathered from recent studies, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 15-17 year olds, and these fatal crashes are most likely to occur during the first six months of driving. The goal of B.R.A.K.E.S. is to radically alter these statistics:
- Per mile driven, drivers who are between the ages of 16 and 19 are nearly three times more likely than over-20 drivers to be in a fatal crash.
- On average, eight teenagers lose their lives every day in automobile accidents. This comes out to approximately 3,000 teens lost per year.
- About 25% of teen drivers admit to responding to at least one text message or having multi-message text conversations every time they get behind the wheel.
In order to address the problems that teen drivers face on the roads, B.R.A.K.E.S. offers courses such as Accident Avoidance, which uses a slalom course to teach elevated steering control. Their Distraction Exercise teaches increased focus and concentration. And a Panic Stop Exercise is used to instruct students on how to have safer and more controlled responses when braking in an emergency.
Addressing the importance of the training offered by B.R.A.K.E.S and his company's involvement, Tim Chaney, vice president of marketing communications for Kia, has stated:
"Kia is committed to continuing to support B.R.A.K.E.S.' efforts to reduce teen traffic fatalities through hands-on defensive driving instruction. The B.R.A.K.E.S. program provides teens and their parents with high-quality individual training to help them make better decisions behind the wheel."
B.R.A.K.E.S. clearly expects and supports parental participation in their program. This is because, according to the results of major studies, parents play a strong role in influencing teen driver habits.
Parents Need B.R.A.K.E.S Too
Statistics strongly indicate that parents play a major role in keeping teens safe on the roads. It has been proven that when parents set driving rules and monitor their activities, teenagers are half as likely to crash and are 71% less likely to drive while intoxicated. Also, with parental involvement, 30% of young drivers are less likely to use a cell phone when driving or drive faster than the posted speed limit.
However, in spite of these statistics, only 25% of parents report that they have had a serious talk with their teen about the importance of safe driving habits. B.R.A.K.E.S. directly addresses this issue by strongly encouraging parents to participate in many of the same exercises that they offer to teens. Parents are instructed to continue the education at home by reinforcing the driving techniques learned at their B.R.A.K.E.S. session.
And parents that are giving serious thought to attending a B.R.A.K.E.S. session should know that the organization has seen impressive results. According to a recent study, teens who complete the B.R.A.K.E.S. program are 64% less likely to be involved in an accident in their first three years of driving and 84% of all B.R.A.K.E.S. graduates since 2011 have had no crashes at all.
How to Attend B.R.A.K.E.S
If you are interested in either participating in the B.R.A.K.E.S. program or wish to volunteer for B.R.A.K.E.S., sessions are regularly held one weekend a month at zMAX Dragway and the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, NC. However, classes are also held at locations all over the U.S., and you can even request a B.R.A.K.E.S. visit to your area. For more information, visit PutOnTheBrakes.org or call (704)720-3806.
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