Free defensive driving program helps keep Kansas drivers safe behind the wheel

WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

A former drag racer is turning tragedy into a program that is saving lives. 

A defensive driving program known as B.R.A.K.E.S. made a pit stop in Wichita this weekend, teaching teens and their families how to be safe on the road. 

The class, taught by former and current law enforcement officers and drag racers, tackled topics like accident avoidance, distracted driving, and steps to take when pulled over by law enforcement. 

B.R.A.K.E.S. stands for Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe. It was established by Doug Herbert, a former drag racing champion, after his sons died in 2008. 

Herbert said it's now his mission to prevent other parents from receiving the same phone call he did when his sons were killed in the accident. 

Starting the program and teaching the classes helps Herbert cope with the deaths of his sons. 

"It is good therapy, and we're actually making a difference with these teenagers that are coming through the program and really teaching them how to deal with bad situations that they're going to come across on the road," said Herbert, "Until it really affected me, I didn't realize what a big problem it was, so I wanted to make a difference and make sure my boys' lives made a difference."

Instructor Travis Oldenburg has been with B.R.A.K.E.S. for six years and said the program makes a difference in the communities they visit. 

"As someone that's seen pretty bad wrecks, it's nice to hear that what we're doing is making an impact," said Oldenburg, "We want to train every teen."

Kansas Highway Patrol partnered with the program. Troopers were present at the event Saturday to instruct drivers about what to do if they get pulled over and to warn them about the dangers of not wearing a seat belt. 

"If we can go through and make our roadways a little bit safer in Wichita, and then when they can talk and teach the lessons they learned to a classmate or even other occupants in the car, we're going to be much safer as a whole," said Trooper Chad Crittenden. 

The event will continue on Sunday, July 28 at WSU at Hughes Metropolitan Complex at 29th and Oliver. 

Sessions are offered from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Each session lasts four hours. 

This is the first time the class will be offered in Wichita. The sessions are free. Click here to learn more or to register.

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