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Unusual driving program teaches teens how to deal with dangerous situations

Posted at 6:13 PM, Oct 22, 2017

WEST CHESTER, Ohio -- Emily Crawley was expecting a boring driving class. She thought she'd be sitting in a classroom.

Instead, the Lakota West junior was surprised by some unusual hands-on exercises.

"I didn't know we'd be able to drive as fast as we did," she said.

Emily was one of the teens who took part in B.R.A.K.E.S. training -- that's Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe -- in Butler County Sunday. 

A parking lot was transformed into a unique driving course for practice practice in situations like collision avoidance/slalom, drop wheel/off road recovery, distraction, panic stops and car control/skid. 

"We can do things that mom and dad would never do with their vehicle, and help them prepare them for the what-ifs they may find down the road," B.R.A.K.E.S. Director of Operations Matt Reilly said.

Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens. In Ohio last year, 127 teenagers died due to car crashes, according to the state Department of Public Safety.

That's a statistic former drag racer Doug Herbert is all too familiar with. His two sons were killed in a crash in 2008. That's what led to him founding B.R.A.K.E.S.

"Awareness of safe driving and training is fading away for most high school curriculum," Reilly said. "Teens aren't getting the proper education behind the wheel."

The program started out with a class of 50 in 2008. Since then, it has gone on to train more than 30,000 teens across the country.

Emily's dad, Jere Crawley, called the program "tremendously valuable."

"We have a few teenagers who are driving or about to drive," he said. "We wanted to be able to get them the experience you get from the class with emergency situations, or some of the circumstances they might end up with in the real world."

Some of it was scary at first, Emily said, but she got used to it and got some valuable lessons.

"It was a lot of fun," she said. "We got to learn a lot of stuff that we hopefully don't have to use in real life, but we're prepared if we do."

For more information about the B.R.A.K.E.S. program, visit their website.