BRIDGETON, Mo. – The nationwide B.R.A.K.E.S. Teen Driving School, a defensive driving program created for teenagers, stopped by Bridgeton on Saturday morning. The school’s name stands for “Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe.”
Instructor Jeremy Birch started racing cars when he was nine years old. Now, he teaches teens how to drive defensively. Birch says the founder, NHRA racing pro Doug Herbert, founded the school to remember his young sons, Jon and James.
“His sons were killed in a crash. This started from all of that,” said Birch.
There are several courses, including one that teaches about simulated distracted and impaired driving. Staff and instructors bring cars to many cities. The vehicles are equipped to put teens in tense situations, while teaching them to recover safely.
“We actually have plastic wheels on the back. There are sleeves on the rear tires. So, it’s simulating hitting a patch of ice,” said Birch.
Abby Stewart is 16 years old. He put on goggles that simulated being drunk. Then, her instructor asked her to park the vehicle.
“I thought I was going to hit something, especially in the carport. It was kind of confusing because there was two of everything,” said Stewart.
Abby says, after this, she will warn her friends to never drive drunk. But Abby’s mom, Shawn, signed up for the class saying her daughter was too cautious behind the wheel.
“She has a death grip on the wheel. I think she would overcompensate,” said Shawn.
Instead, Abby also learned how to panic brake and how to drown out distractions.
“Confidence goes from here for some all the way up here, because you are now prepared for if someone jumps in front of you,” Birch says. “You can hit the brakes and turn out of the way.”
Abby may have graduated, but she gave B.R.A.K.E.S. and excellent grade.
“If they ever come back here, I would tell my friends to come and take it.”
The course requires a deposit. However, it is refunded after graduation. Familes are welcome to pay their deposit forward to another teen. To learn more about the B.R.A.K.E.S. program, click here.