BRAKES teen driving program will be held in Manheim

By on April 5, 2017
The BRAKES (Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe) teen proactive safe driving program will held May 6 and 7, and Oct. 7 and 8, at the Manheim Auto Auction. Two sessions — 8 a.m. to noon, and 1 to 5 p.m. — will be offered each day.

The BRAKES (Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe) teen proactive safe driving program will held May 6 and 7, and Oct. 7 and 8, at the Manheim Auto Auction. Two sessions — 8 a.m. to noon, and 1 to 5 p.m. — will be offered each day. The program is open to young adults county-wide.

The BRAKES (Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe) teen proactive safe driving program will held May 6 and 7, and Oct. 7 and 8, at the Manheim Auto Auction, 1190 Lancaster Road., Manheim. Two sessions &tstr; 8 a.m. to noon, and 1 to 5 p.m. &tstr; will be offered each day.

The four-hour hands-on program is geared toward teens age 16 to 19 who already have their learner’s permit or driver’s license and at least 30 hours of driving experience. Each teen must be accompanied by at least one parent.

The course starts with a half-hour lecture, and the balance of the time is spent driving with a trained instructor. During the program, teens will develop driving skills and experience relating to distracted driving, emergency braking using the anti-lock braking system (ABS), evasive maneuvering and skid control recovery.

Matt Reilly, BRAKES director of operation, explained that each instructor will be paired with three teens, who take turns navigating each course segment.

“The three-to-one student-instructor ratio is a very important part of the program. We want to ensure that each teen has the opportunity for hands-on learning,” he stressed, “We’ve been doing the program in Manheim for several years, and we’ve had multiple children from families go through it.”

BRAKES was organized in 2008 by Doug Herbert, an NHRA Top Fuel drag racer, after his two teenage sons were killed in a car accident. It is headquartered in Concord. N.C. Since the program was founded, more than 25,000 teens from 30 states have taken the course.

It was initially offered in Manheim in May 2012. At that time, the Manheim Lions Club partnered with several area businesses including the Manheim Auto Auction to host a BRAKES program following the loss of eight Manheim area children in teen driving accidents during the prior two years.

Since then, the BRAKES program has grown. Reilly said that Kia is now partnering with the program. Kia has donated 44 vehicles to BRAKES: a mix of the Rio, a subcompact sedan and hatchback; Soul, a crossover; and Forte, a compact coupe/sedan/5-door hatchback. Going hand-in-hand with Kia’s partnership is a partnership with Glovis America to transport the fleet of vehicles.

“That allows us to have an East Coast and a West Coast fleet, and to reach even more teens than before. We’re at a point where we can run two different schools per weekend (an East Coast and a West Coast) and train 400 teens per weekend,” Reilly said.

Since the BRAKES program’s inception he said that the format has stayed the same, but the basic curriculum has been tweaked slightly based on feedback from state police departments about the causes of teen accidents.

Fatal Vision Alcohol Impairment Simulation Goggles are now part of the distracted driving part of the course. Reilly said that there’s also a pair for parents to try.

“We like to engage parents and give them more tools to be better mentors when driving with their teens, so we’ve structured our talk with parents a bit differently,” he said. “They need to learn to step back from being chauffeurs for their teen drivers and let them drive.”

Although skid control recovery remains part of the program, it’s been revamped. Reilly explained that originally that area of the course was hosed down by a local fire company with water, but that used a lot of water and it did not provide consistent conditions. Now technology is being used to simulate the wet road condition. Reilly explained that plastic wheel covers are placed over the rear wheels of the car during that part of the course.

“The car becomes the adult version of a ‘big wheel’ &tstr; it’s very slick and mimics black ice. The benefits are that you don’t need the water and it’s easier on the tires,” he said, “Plus it’s made us a bit more eco-friendly, something that’s especially important in places on the West Coast, where they’ve been experiencing several years of drought. We also don’t need as much area for that part of the course.”

He said that in Manheim, the Manheim Auto Auction has been a generous partner. He also credits the Manheim Lions Club for initially bringing the program to Manheim and helping to foster interest and support for the program. Manheim Lions Club member Aaron Henderson said that although the organization is no longer involved in the BRAKES program, the program continues to be an asset to the community.

Reilly pointed out that having teen drivers who have taken the BRAKES program makes the entire community safer. That premise has been supported by a recent scientific study by Dr. Paul Friday of UNC Charlotte. His study indicates that BRAKES trained teen drivers are 64 percent less likely to be involved in a car crash in the first three years of their driving career than students that have not received BRAKES advanced training.

The BRAKES program is free, but a $99 refundable deposit is required to reserve a spot. Reilly said that all spots are reserved for the May 6 and 7 program in Manheim, however he encourages parents and teens to be placed on the wait list. In the event of a cancellation, the spot will be filled from the wait list. Plus those on the wait list will be notified when registration opens for the October session.

“The deposit is refundable, but some people decide not to have it refunded so that they can pay it forward,” Reilly pointed out. “That helps our organization grow.”

For further information, or to be put on the wait list for BRAKES’ Manheim session, visit

Rochelle Shenk is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at

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