Teen driving program

A teenage defensive driving program is planning to expand their classes in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

A race car driver from North Carolina is planning to expand a free safe driving program for teenagers into the Midwest.

Doug Herbert created the defensive driving program in 2008 after his young sons, Jon and James, died in a car accident.

He founded B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe) program in their memory as a proactive defensive teen driving school.

The nonprofit organization has the mission of using educational classes to prevent injuries and save lives by training and educating teenage drivers and their parents.

The program is funded through private donations and can be held for schools or organizations.

Shawn Gigstad, who lives near Atchison, Kansas, serves as the Midwest event coordinator for the program. She said she hopes to schedule more classes in the region.

Gigstad said the program plans to expand their classes in Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri.

The teen-friendly course curriculum includes collision avoidance, drop wheel recovery, panic stop and skid control.

She said a study conducted on the class shows teenagers are 64 percent less likely to be in a crash after taking the course.

The program has received funds through grants from the Kansas Department of Transportation and the Missouri Department of Transportation.

She said the program has partnered with the Kansas Highway Patrol. Trooper Don Hughes in Topeka is a public information officer who has incorporated the class into talks given by the agency. A driver’s safety class is not mandatory in Kansas before applying for a license.

They will be holding two weekends of classes at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. The weekends are Aug. 8 and Aug. 9 along with Aug. 15 and Aug. 16. The morning class will be from 8 a.m. to noon and the afternoon class will be from 1 to 5 p.m. each of the days. Only one four hour class is required.

Any school or organization interested in a class can contact the program by phone at 704-720-3806. They can be contacted by email at register@putonthebrakes.org.