On April 13 and 14, 2013 the Foundation hired the not-for-profit organization B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe) to help fill the gap in Juneau for defensive driver’s training. The training was free to all participants. B.R.A.K.E.S. is a professional driving school, and registered 501(c)(3), whose mission is to prevent injuries and save lives by training and educating teenage drivers and their parents about the importance of safe and responsible driving.
The Put on the Brakes driver’s training course is unique in that participants spend three of the four hours oftraining behind the wheel of a car with instructors experiencing driving situations that put them most at risk. A course is set up in a parking lot that includes a skid control station, a distracted driving course, a sudden stop accident avoidance station, and a simulated driving under the influence station. The last station is done with golf carts and impaired driving goggles. Parents or significant adults for the teen are also an important part ofthe training and strongly encouraged to attend. Adults will be able to drive the course with instructors.
The course instructors are all professional drivers, and the school is approved by AAA. The course will be staffed by B.R.A.K.E.S. instructors and local volunteers. The course will be open to anyone with either a learner's permit or a license between 14 and 18 years old.
The following is a summary of the event, written by Carol White.
I don’t know if I have ever been part of an event that was as successful at meeting the need of the participants and the community at large. As we began working to secure the funding through grant applications and donations from organizations and businesses in the community, we were encouraged by the enthusiasm and encouragement we received. This is something Juneau needs so badly we were told over and over again. The enthusiasm continued with the glorious weekend we had for the B.R.A.K.E.S. training. Volunteers enjoyed standing in the sunshine, kicking cones back in place and watching the action. And was there ever action!
Ninety eight teens and at least that many parents participated in the free B.R.A.K.E.S. training. Although some of the teens couldn’t be described as enthusiastic at the beginning of the trainings (especially those at the 8:00 am sessions), all of them were excited and happy to have participated by the time the class was over. In reading through the comment cards they talked about how fun it was, how they wish it had been longer, and how they learned things they didn’t think they could have learned any other way. Parents were equally if not more pleased.
Here are a few highlights from the parent and teen comment cards:
When asked which of the 6 courses helped them the most they said the following
|The Driving Course that was most helpful was:||Parents||Teens|
|Wet Skid Pad||26||36|
|Driving Under the Influence||7||6|
|All of them||8||2|
These data points don’t begin to capture the excitement of the weekend! Everyone was speaking in superlatives – “this was the most spectacular event”, “This was an amazing course. I learned so much that will benefit me”, “the instructors were awesome” – and indeed the instructors were awesome.
If you read the bios of the instructors on the B.R.A.K.E.S. webpage, you find they are all professional drivers, and involved in everything from racing, to stunt car driving to driving instructing at some of the premier professional driving schools in the country. It was an amazing opportunity for Juneau youth to have access to this level of expertise, and the teens and parents could tell they were learning from people who really understood driving and respected the skill and what it takes to be good at it. Perhaps the most outstanding quality the instructors brought to the training was their approachability and relaxed fun way of interacting. It put everyone at ease and able to soak up the experience and what it had to teach them.
At the end of each session, the question most often asked was, “Are you going to do this again next year?” We, here at the Foundation would certainly like to, but unfortunately it boils down to funding. We will be working on securing funding, but if you would like to help by donating to this project, you can do that on our secure donation link.
The training would not have been possible without a generous grant from the Crossett Fund, the use of 16 automobiles donated from Mendenhall Auto Center, or the parking lot and classrooms donated from University of Alaska Southeast.
In addition the training was strongly supported from many businesses and organizations in Juneau including the Margaret Frans Brady Fund, Country Lane Inn Best Western, Juneau Emergency Medical Associates, Juneau State Farm Agents, Pavitt Health and Fitness Juneau Medical Society Heritage Coffee, Commercial Signs and Printing, Foodland IGA, Glacier Gardens, Shattuck and Grummet Insurance, Bullwinkles Pizza, Alaska Pacific Bank, Valley Auto Parts, Valley Dental Lab, Superbear, Nugget Alaskan Outfitter, Capital Copy, Costco, State of Alaska Department of Transportation, Tyler Rental, City and Borough of Juneau