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Teens get advice on driving safe

CHESAPEAKE — It wasn’t an attempt to play Big Brother, but simply to get the teens to use some basic common sense. That was the purpose of the assembly at Chesapeake High School by BRAKES.

The organization was started by national racing star Doug Herbert who lost his two sons in a car accident in January of 2008, caused by the careless driving of one of the boys.

In a way to remember his sons and get other teens not to go down the same path, Herbert started BRAKES, an organization whose acronym stands for Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe.

Local BRAKES representative Arthur Suiter, a former Chesapeake school board member, spoke to the teens Wednesday morning.

“We’re not here to tell them how to drive, just to be responsible,” said Suiter, who also announced for Chesapeake High basketball games for 17 years.

“I’ve been involved with kids and I recognize the need, especially with texting, that is a major problem.”

There are 6,000 teens killed in vehicle accidents each year and 400,000 sent to emergency rooms with injuries from car, motorbike and truck accidents, the teens learned.

In a video Herbert told the Chesapeake students that his sons perished because one was driving in and out of cars when his vehicle slid across the roadway and hit another car head-on. The pair was only going to McDonald’s.

“Ninety percent of you between the ages of 16 and 18 will have an accident. That is an amazing statistic,” Suiter told the students. “Just imagine tomorrow that your best friend is dead. You never get over losing someone like that. If you are not driving responsibly, you will lose someone like that.”

Suiter asked the students to consider signing, with their parents, the “Teen Driving Pledge” and the “Backseat Driver Pledge.”

Among the promises in the pledges are to always wear a seatbelt; never drink and drive or get into a car with a driver who has been drinking; and drive without distractions such as text messaging or talking on a cell phone.

Suiter also brought a 565 Chevrolet big block dragster that he races. After the assembly he took the car out on the track and showed the teens what the $150,000 car could do in a controlled environment.

Those teens and parents who sign the pledge will be registered with the BRAKES organization.