Gateway Motorsports Park played host to hundreds of teens and parents Saturday. The goal? Save lives.

“At this point we’ve trained 30,000 teenagers all over the country in 40 states,” said B.R.A.K.E.S. founder Doug Herbert.

Herbert is a retired NHRA world champion who started the non-profit after his sons, Jon and James, died in a car accident in 2008. It’s the first time the free program has been in the St. Louis area.

B.R.A.K.E.S. stands for ‘Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe.’

“It would have been real easy to crawl into a hole and just do nothing but I thought that wouldn’t have been fair to my boys. Because I want to make sure that their life will make a difference,” said Herbert.

With the help of several professional instructors, Herbert’s team hits a new city each weekend to teach teens what Driver’s Ed may not: how to handle the car if a wheel drops off the side of the road, dealing with distracted driving, using anti-lock breaks, avoiding surprise obstacles, even how to keep control of the car under slick road conditions.

“We’re not teaching them how to drive. We’re teaching them how to avoid crashes and stay alive,” said Herbert.

The proactive driving school is open to teens ages 15-19 and says teens who have taken the B.R.A.K.E.S. training are 64 percent less likely to be involved in a crash. According to the CDC, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers.

“I think this sort of defensive driving program should be mandatory for every 16 year old driver,” said Patrick Elsner, a parent whose 15-year-old daughter was driving the program’s courses Saturday morning.

Herbert is happy to do anything he can to make the roads safer for teenagers across the country.

“Giving them the tools to save their own life is probably the most rewarding, best thing I’ve ever been able to do,” he said. “Hopefully make the roads around the St. Louis area a little safer. And hopefully keep some of these parents from getting that phone call that I got that their kids aren’t coming home.”

B.R.A.K.E.S. still has a few openings for Sunday morning, August 13. Parents and teens who are interested are encouraged to signup on their website here, or simply show up in person at Gateway Motorsports Park around 7:45 am.

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