Advanced Drivers Training for Teens

Advanced Drivers Training for Teens – Teen drivers are 400% more likely to die in a car crash than a 25-34 year old driver. I spoke to Doug Herbert, Founder of B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by NHRA Top Fuel drag racer Doug Herbert in memory of his two sons who died tragically in car accidents about advanced drivers training for teens.

Teen driving statistics are alarming!

  • Teens are 400% more likely to die in a car crash than 25-34 year old drivers. (National Safety Council)
  • Teens have the highest crash rate of any age group. (CA Dept. Motor Vehicles)
  • The crash rate for drivers 16-19 year olds is four times as high as that of drivers 20 and older. (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
  • Drivers under the age of 20 have the largest proportion of fatal accidents involving distracted driving. (NHTSA)
  • 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 (Governors Highway Safety Association)

It’s a terrifying for many parents when our teens begin driving. Being prepared can help. I interviewed Doug Herbert, founder of B.R.A.K.E.S. about tips to help ensure safety with teen drivers and asked him about advanced drivers training for teens.


Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms – Lack of advanced drivers training experience aside, what are some other reasons that may contribute to why teens are at a much higher risk for accidents?

Doug Herbert, Founder of B.R.A.K.E.S. – Well, you hit the nail on the head. I mean lack of experience is the biggest thing, and proper training. As parents, we are better drivers because we’ve got experience driving on the road and at some point we probably had some training. Hopefully our parents, or uncle or somebody drove with us to teach us how to be a little bit better driver, but the key really for teenagers is practice. As parents, we need to be number one good role models to them, we need to show them how to properly drive… it can’t be one of those things where it’s “Do as I say, and not as I do.” We’ve got to be good role models. Communicate with your teen driver about the different things you should be doing behind the wheel and how you can be a safer driver; maybe sharing some of the experiences that we as parents have had with them throughout our driving career. Hopefully they can learn a little bit from our mistakes.

Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms – Sometimes teens are not receptive to their parents’ advice. What are the most effective ways parents can teach their teens how to be safe on the road? What are some advanced drivers training for teens?

Doug Herbert, Founder of B.R.A.K.E.S. – Well, you know, you’re exactly right. The problem is, as parents, ‘we’re old, we’re dumb’ and all that, but what we found is that the number one thing is don’t be edgy with your kid. You know, you’ve got to realize, they’ve got a learning curve to go through and they don’t really know. So, let them drive the car. You’ve got to sit there and you’ve got to be a coach to them, and not be their mom and dad for a little bit because mom and dads have a little bit of a hard time as you say training their teenager about driving. If there’s somebody else in the family… maybe an uncle or an aunt, or somebody that’s a good driver… that might be a way to get away from having to do that yourself. One big thing too that we found is limiting some of those early driving lessons to 30 minutes or less… just kind of keeping it where it’s not such an overload, and also not having passengers in the car when you’re trying to do driver training. Everyone needs to be at home except for the driver, and the parent or the mentor needs to be in the car. But having a bunch of people in the car is definitely not a good way to start out being a beginning driver.

Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms – What advanced drivers training tips would you give to teens to keep them safe on the road?

Doug Herbert, Founder of B.R.A.K.E.S. – There’s a lot of different things they can do, but the number one thing is avoid distractions. Whether it’s your friends in the car – every time there’s an additional teenager in the car, the accident rate goes up by about 50%, so having extra teenagers in the car is always not a good thing. So, focus on the driving. Focus on the road. Not on your radio. Not on your cell phone. Focus on the road. That’s probably one of the biggest, biggest things. Also, is practice. You know, more practice. Get out there, drive the car. Know what your car feels like. Before you get into the car, make sure you don’t have a flat tire. Kind of do a little bit of a walk around. Make sure the tires are inflated. Make sure your little brother or sister is not sitting behind the car. Looking at the car before you get into it… that’s a big thing. Another big thing is making sure you’re ready for the trip before you go. So, before you start up your car and put it in gear, make sure you’ve got your GPS set, make sure you know where you’re going. Be aware of the surroundings around you. Know your route. Being prepared and not being distracted are really two of the biggest things that teenagers can do before they get in the car. There again, it comes back to the parents being good mentors and being good teachers, and good role models for their teen driver.

Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms – What is the B.R.A.K.E.S. defensive driving program? Are these specifically advanced drivers training for teens?

Doug Herbert, Founder of B.R.A.K.E.S. – Well, in 2008, my two teenage boys were killed in a car accident and that prompted it. Before that, I had been a NHRA top field drag racer for the last 25 years, driving top field dragsters that go over 300 miles per hour. And, I didn’t understand, I didn’t even know that teen driving accidents were the number one thing that causes death of teenagers in our country. Over 5,000 teenagers every year are killed in car crashes. And, I didn’t know that until it affected me directly with my two boys. So, at that time, I decided… you know what, I can do something about this and I’m going to do something about this. I want to teach other teenagers about the consequences of not driving safely and give them an opportunity to learn some safe driving tips from a professional driving instructor. So, we started the B.R.A.K.E.S. teen safe driving program. It’s a charity program. The cost is free. We don’t charge to teach teenagers. KIA provides us vehicles. We go to cities all around. We’ve actually been up to Detroit. We’re looking forward to coming back to the Michigan area and teaching more teenagers up there. It’s a four hour advanced driving course. We’re teaching teenagers based on DOT statistics on the things that are causing accidents… dropping a wheel off the side of the road, recovering from a skid, we’re teaching them about distractions and how they affect the ability to drive a car, accident avoidance, emergency lane changing, anti-lock braking systems… So, the teenagers are able to experience these driving conditions in one of our cars, one of our KIA provided vehicles. And, a professional instructor – the instructors that we have are not just like normal driving instructors. The instructors that we have are guys that have taught the secret service guys defensive driving skills. They work with state police, they work with law enforcement. They’ve trained Navy Seals and Army Rangers about defensive driving. They do stunts in movies. The teachers we have are who I would want to teach my kids, so that’s who we have to train, teach all these kids that come to B.R.A.K.E.S. We’re trying to teach them how to be better, how to be safer. A recent statistic that just blew me away was the University of North Carolina Dr. Friday at UNC Charlotte who did a study of some our B.R.A.K.E.S. students of the past several years and they’re actually 64.3% less likely to be involved in an accident than a teenager who hasn’t had advanced driver training. So, that’s been really rewarding for us, and just kind of goes to prove that all this work we’re doing and all these 17,000 teenagers that we’ve trained around the country… it’s making a difference. Our goal is to train every teenager about being a safer driver.

Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms – Where can parents and teens go to find out if it’s something that is offered in our area? And, for more information on B.R.A.K.E.S. and how to sign up?

Doug Herbert, Founder of B.R.A.K.E.S. – The best thing to do is to go to the B.R.A.K.E.S. website which is All kinds of advanced drivers training information on there. A safety driving contract that anybody can download and go over that with your teen driver and talk to them about consequences and not driving safe. Maybe talk to them about giving them what we call a hall pass where your teenager gets in a bad situation and they can pick up the phone and call their parent; parent will go pick them up and bring them home with no consequence, no disciplinary action. Talk to your teenager about maybe they didn’t make a great decision being in that particular situation, but they did make a good decision calling the parent. We’ve also got another section on the website which is called Bring B.R.A.K.E.S. to My Town. We encourage families around the country to help what we’re doing. Go around, start a fundraiser in your town and be a champion for the program and for teen safe driving. We actually had a high school senior that had a friend of hers killed in a car accident and she decided she wanted to have B.R.A.K.E.S. in her town. She went around and she got enough support in her community to bring the class to her town and we ended up training a couple hundred of her friends, teenage drivers in her town to be safer drivers. It’s not such a big thing that nobody can do it. It’s actually an easy thing just being involved and working on it. Back to your question, the website is a great place –, or Facebook B.R.A.K.E.S. With Doug Herbert, or Twitter @PutOnTheBRAKES.

Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms – One last question, just so we understand… the B.R.A.K.E.S. defensive driving program is advanced drivers training and is not a driver’s training program for teens to earn their license, correct?

Doug Herbert, Founder of B.R.A.K.E.S. – One of our requirements is that the teenagers have at least 30 hours of driving because what we teach them is advanced driving. So, they really need to know how to basically operate the car before they come to B.R.A.K.E.S. so when they do come to B.R.A.K.E.S. they’re not going to be scared by what we’re teaching them – how to recover from a skid, how to use the anti-lock brakes, how to recover from dropping a wheel off the side of the road… So, it really is advanced driver training. It’s not Drivers Ed. We’re beyond Drivers Ed. Again, on the website, we’ve got some videos and some information that would give all the details about some of the things that we teach during the four hour advanced driving course.

ABOUT B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe), is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by NHRA Mello Yellow Series Top Fuel drag racer Doug Herbert in memory of his two sons, Jon and James, who were tragically killed in a car accident. The B.R.A.K.E.S. Teen Pro-Active Driving School is a free, defensive driving program. By training and educating teenage drivers and their parents, the program aims to promote safe driving in an attempt to prevent injuries and save lives. To volunteer, obtain more information or donate please visit

For more advanced drivers training for teens tips, visit the Secretary of State or

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