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'Up Front' Talks K.E.Y.S., B.R.A.K.E.S. and Teen Driving in Episode 71

Aug 17, 2020 04:33PM ● By Jason Huddle

Episode 71: KEYS, BRAKES and Teen Driving

Every year we lose over 2,300 teens to a driving accident and over 300,000 are injured, nationally. However, Cabarrus County houses a driving initiative and a safe driving program help to keep our young drivers safe. This week, we talk to Asma Warrich, of the Cabarrus Health Alliance, who also heads up the K.E.Y.S. program, which is a safe driving initiative for teens. We also welcome on, Doug Herbert, Professional racer and founder of the B.R.A.K.E.S. program, which teaches defensive driving techniques to teens. Herbert founded the program after losing both his sons in an auto accident. If you have a young driver in your circle, you want to pay attention to this week's episode. For more information on the K.E.Y.S. program, you can follow them on Instagram: @elevateyourself_trail, visit or sign up for the newsletter by emailing [email protected] From more information on the B.R.A.K.E.S program, visit

Jason Huddle  00:17

15 to 19 year olds account for 6.5% of all drivers on the road, an average of 6.4 teens between the ages of 16 and 19 are killed every day from motor vehicle injuries. That's 2364 teenagers dead and 300,000 treated for injuries every year as well. Cabarrus County has some numbers of its own.


Asma Warrich  00:39

Cabarrus County has one of the highest incidence rates for crashes involving young drivers in 2017. There were about 1390 crashes that involved a youth driver and this was actually an increase of 34%. Cabarrus County also ranks 11th out of 100 counties we have in North Carolina for youth involved crashes and 80 out of 100 for fatalities associated with youth drivers.


Jason Huddle  01:08

This week we're taking on the very important topic of safe teen driving with people from the Keys Program, a safe driving initiative through the Cabarrus Health Alliance, as well as the Brakes Program, an organization that is teaching defensive driving and how to avoid accidents to young drivers. If you have a teen driver, or are getting ready to have one, you don't want to miss this episode. This is Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine a presentation of CabCo Media Group and sponsored by Atlantic Bay Mortgage for Cabarrus Arena and Event Center, Cabarrus Eye Center, Cabarrus Health Alliance, Concord Downtown Development Corporation, Level Up Realty, New Hope Worship Center and Walk Cabarrus. I'm your host Jason Huddle. Hello my friends and welcome once again to another episode of Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine, Episode 71 I am your host Jason Huddle and we are talking today about safe teen driving. I have gone through this myself I'm getting ready to go through it again and I have another driver a few years down the road coming up as well. So this is an important topic to me and I know what it is to you if you have a teen driver, know a teen driver. You know how dangerous the roads are. And people are no respecters of age when it comes to driving stupid cutting people off, they don't pay attention to who they are doing this to and people with less experience the results can prove disastrous. So we are bringing in today Asma Warrich from the Cabarrus Health Alliance. She's heading up the Keys Program. She's going to tell you all about that. And also Doug Herbert who himself lost his two sons in an auto accident a few years ago and that inspired him to start the Breaks Program which is a nonprofit, defensive driving program for teens. So we're going to tell you all about that stuff coming up in this episode. But first, of course, we have shameless plug time. First, allow me to give you a little disclaimer. Last week, I talked about our program being available now on the Amazon Echo devices. That is true. But there's a few more steps that you have to go through. We are available through the Intune app. So what you have to do is you have to go on to your Amazon Alexa app, go in and enable the Intune app and then you should be able to call up our podcast. So if you were looking for the podcast last week and couldn't find it that way. Now you know how to access it. Also, I forgot to mention last week that the August edition of Cabarrus Magazine is online and in stands if you have not received that, please make sure you do that by checking out a where to find this tab on Cabarrus Magazine dot com. You can read the magazine online or you can go get a copy and if you want it delivered to your house, you can always go to Cabarrus Magazine dot com click on the subscribe now button and get the magazine delivered to you for a bargain basement price of $36 per year and that is today's shameless plug time. Asma Warrich with the Cabarrus Health Alliance and Keys Initiative is up next after the break stick around.


Commercial  04:24



Jason Huddle  05:41

Welcome back to the program. We are talking this week about safe driving for teens. And I am pleased to have on the line with me, Asam Warrich. She is with the Cabarrus Health Alliance and is in charge of the keys program initiative. If you've been listening to the program today, you probably caught the commercial during the break for the Keys Program and I brought on Asma to talk a little bit more about it. So first of all, Asma thank you so much for being on the program today.


Asma Warrich  06:31

Thank you, Jason. It's an honor to be invited on.


Jason Huddle  06:33

So Asma, tell us about the Keys Program. What exactly is it? And why did the CHA feel like it was necessary to get involved with this?


Asma Warrich  06:44

Yeah, of course. So I'll just start with what the Keys Program is. So Keys basically stands for keeping every youth safe. And it's the safe driving initiatives we have in Cabarrus County. We are currently in the second year of the initiative and we're looking looking to reduce the incidence of young driver related serious injuries, crashes and rates of impaired driving in Cabarrus County. So we're funded through the Department of Transportation, but as Jason mentioned, we`re housed at Cabarrus Health Alliance and we've actually, at this point been able to work with all of our traditional public high schools in the county so far, which is awesome. And we're looking to move into non traditional setting for this third year, but our program has several components. We release monthly newsletters to both parents in the county who have children out of 10 high schools and also a lot of our media partners. We do yearly trainings for our driver instructors in Cabarrus. County. We created a whole toolkit that supplements the curriculum that they're already getting as well. We do school events so we have a lot of lunchtime events. We do the don't text and drive pledge during lunchtime. We bring in national speakers who've had personal experiences. with young driver related crashes, we do staging events. I think last year, a few of our schools, we brought in actual cars from the junkyard of cars that had been involved in youth related driving accidents. And then we also have driving simulators at all of our high schools in the county so kids can just pop in, I think they're located in the media center, and test out some of their driving skills and we do our Instagram page. Feel free to follow us at elevate yourself trail on Instagram. We have a lot of cool content on there. And then finally, just working with our community partners in Cabarrus County to promote our five to drive campaign and if you've been listening to our commercial on it just promotes driving with no cell phones, no extra passengers no speeding, no alcohol obviously in wearing your seatbelt, regardless of if you're in the front or back See? So that's just really an overview of what our program is about. And to answer your second question, Jason, why we brought this program into the county. So it was around 2017, we were just looking at what new program we could bring into the county what needs we were seeing and we found some astounding statistics related to use driving and I'll just go through some of them with you. So um compared to other counties in North Carolina Cabarrus County has one of the highest incidence rates for crashes involving young drivers in 2017. There were about 1390 crashes that involved a youth driver and this was actually an increase of 34% from the last time they looked at it, which was in 2013. So obviously we were like, okay, this is astounding information. We need to do something about it. Cabarrus County also ranks 11th out of 100 counties we have in North Carolina, for use involve crashing and 18 out of 100 fatalities associated with youth drivers. Also it doesn't help that we border Mecklenburg County. So we see a lot of things fall into our county because of that. Mecklenburg County actually ranks second out of 100 in both fatalities involving youth drivers and crashes involving youth drivers. So we have..


Jason Huddle  10:22

Is that based on numbers or percentages?


Asma Warrich  10:24

They are, based on straight numbers of fatalities.


Jason Huddle  10:28

But still, I mean, obviously, one, one teenager, one young life loss due to a driving accident, no matter reason is too many for sure.


Asma Warrich  10:39

Right, right.


Jason Huddle  10:40

Sure. So so how are you guys getting this initiative out? Obviously, you're your partner with with us and we're pleased to do that. But how else are you guys getting the message out for teenagers to drive safe? I know you talked about bringing in some cars that have been been involved with youth involved in accidents were some other things.


Asma Warrich  10:58

Yeah. We're also inviting we've been inviting National Speakers who've had personal experience to come in. And we've been holding school assemblies with a lot of our high schools. With these national speakers. It's, I think, very different. Someone's telling you, Hey, don't text and drive. But when you have a parent who's lost a child, from texting and driving, and then really sharing their personal experiences and on how that's affected them, I think that's a hits home more so than just verbally trying to explain to your child, hey, don't do this. And we're also we do like the don't text and drive pledges during lunchtime and try to get a lot of kids involved in that as well. And then we do crash simulators. So there's actually a company based out of high point that we've been working with, and so we bring in the kids and they actually are able to sort of experience what it feels like to be involved in a crash, like pressure and all of that. So We try to get as hands on as we can with the kids


Jason Huddle  12:04

Wonderful. I think the texting and driving that's got to be at the top of the list as far as causes. Now, I have no scientific numbers in front of me to tell you that. But I think that's got to be at the top. And the sad thing is I see parents on the road every day, setting the example, by texting and driving, I can see him doing it. I see parents with their kids in tow. You know, we've been all over the road or not paying attention and having to slam on brakes. I see it almost every day where they're texting and driving at the same time. And I think we have to do better as as adults right to set the example for our kids.


Asma Warrich  12:41

Exactly and with texting and driving get it is a form of impaired driving in my opinion. I feel like we always jump to hates alcohol and some sort of drug use right as a form of impaired driving. But right now, texting and driving is also considered a form of impaired driving as it driving while being sleepy.


Jason Huddle  13:03

That's right.


Asma Warrich  13:04

So just as bad as you being intoxicated or on something. So, with all the advances in technology, we're definitely seeing that being a humongous issue. I mean, Jason, how many times have you been at a stoplight? And it's turned green and no one's moving.


Jason Huddle  13:20

Right, everday and I'm always the second car like I'm never the right. I won't go down that rabbit trail. But yeah, it's exactly right. And you realize when you when you finally do get going, and you get to go around that car and you kind of glance over and yep, they're on their phone. That's why they didn't see the green light and that can go that can go bad really fast. You know, what if they don't see the red light, and they keep going through the intersection? You know, that can be disastrous.


Asma Warrich  13:50

For sure. One of our National Speakers. His name is Joel Feldman, and he's huge in the don't text and drive initiative. That's happening nationwide right now and he actually lost his daughter, because there was a young driver who was texting and missed the stop sign. And his daughter was walking across the road when it happened. So it's so dangerous. It starts with the parents setting a great example on when they're driving to not use their phone and put the phone down.


Jason Huddle  14:21

I saw a powerful demonstration one time and it had these parents with these big poster boards of their children's last text before they were killed in an accident. And we get the thought in our head that well, if I'm just texting Kay, or, you know, something very short, it's okay to do that. Right. But most of these signs were very short one was a K or on my way, or something very, very brief. And that was their last text and they were killed. Literally within seconds of sending that text, casue they didnt slow down or they didn't see a stop sign. As you mentioned, something happened. So it was impactful on me to be conscious of that, not only when my children are in the car, but anytime, because now they're counting on us to right.


Asma Warrich  15:10

Exactly. And I feel like most of us nowadays have the ability of you can program them where when you're driving, anyone who texts you, they get a text back where that just lets them know, Hey, I can't pick up the phone right now I'm driving, but I'll get back to you as soon as possible. So there's definitely a lot of ways around it.


Jason Huddle  15:29

Wonderful Asma I appreciate you being on the program today. Once again, if people want to get more information on the program, please tell us where they can go.


Asma Warrich  15:39

Yeah, so obviously, you can go to our Cabarrus Health Alliance website and just look for the Keys Program there. We also do a monthly newsletters right now they're focused with the parents, but if you want to be added onto our listserv, just reach out to me. My contact information Asma spelled a s m a dot Warrich at And if you're interested in any of our initiatives or looking at any of our materials, just feel free to reach out to me and I am more than happy to share that with you.


Jason Huddle  16:15

Wonderful. We'll put all that in the show notes as well for you guys, as well watch with the Cabarrus Health Alliance and Keys Program initiative. Thank you so much for being on the program today.


Asma Warrich  16:24

Thank you, Jason.


Jason Huddle  16:25

Alright you guys stay tuned. We'll be back with Doug Herbert from the breaks program in just a moment.


Commercial  16:29



Jason Huddle  16:42

Welcome back to the program. We are joined now via zoom from the salt flats in Utah, by Doug Herbert. He is the owner and founder of the Breaks organization. First of all, Doug, thank you so much for coming on the program today.


Doug Herbert  18:31

You bet, yeah, I'm the founder of Breaks is a (inaudiable). So I'm not actually an owner, the, you know, charity is owned by all of our all of our supporters, really, but we're thankful to be involved and happy to be in Cabarrus County,


Jason Huddle  18:45

And we are so appreciative of you as well, Doug, for those of you that aren't familiar with the Brakes Program, Brakes is a great organization. Basically, they teach defensive driving and survival techniques like teach teenagers how to get out of a spin, how to react quickly driving techniques. And this organization was actually born out of tragedy. Doug lost his sons in a terrible accident in which they did they lose control of the car because of speed, is that correct?


Doug Herbert  19:14

Yeah, I mean, you know, speed and inexperience they were, you know, young, the 17 year old, my son John that was driving and was driving too fast and lost control of the car. And unfortunately, he and his brother, my other son, James, they both lost their life in that car crash. And so that prompted me to try and do something to make a difference and, and teach some teenagers, you know, some skills and hopefully get them to understand the dangers of driving and the responsibility that they need to take when they get behind the wheel of the guard to be safe and responsible driving the car because I don't want another parent to get that phone call that I got that their teenager is not coming home due to a car crash.


Jason Huddle  19:52

Right. Well, let me tell you, tell you a little story. That will, I will hope will encourage you a little bit more. I'm sure you've heard stories like this before, but my son, my oldest son went through the Brakes program several years ago. He's almost 21 now but before right before he got his license, he went to the Brakes program. And not too long after he got his license and his car you get that call that says, the first thing you hear is I'm okay.


Doug Herbert  20:21

Right okay.


Jason Huddle  20:22

But that's always a horrible thing to hear. In that you know that something bad is coming next but you're glad they're okay. At any rate, my son called me he said my tire blew out on the highway. I'm okay the cars okay, but I you know, I need you to come and help me out. And it turned out he was only about a two miles from home. He was on highway 49. And his tire had completely shredded like there was almost nothing left of it. And he had but because he had been through the brakes program, he knew how to maintain control of the car and was able to get it off of the busy highway safely. So there was no harm to him no harm to the car. And I attribute that completely to the Brakes program. So thank you very much for that.


Doug Herbert  21:09

Oh, that's great to hear. That makes me happy. I'm glad.


Jason Huddle  21:13

So Doug, tell us a little bit more about what teenagers can expect when they come to spend the day with you guys at breaks.


Doug Herbert  21:22

Well, the program is a half a day, you know, the programs only a half a day so they don't have to devote a lot of time to it. And like I said, the things are gonna learn are life saving skills. It's a matter of all we developed our curriculum based on the leading causes of car crashes. We work with the state troopers, North Carolina we work with, you know that I highway patrol there obviously, we work with University of North Carolina, UNC UNCC and Dr. Paul Friday over there to help us develop the curriculum and the driving exercises, you know, that are going to improve the skills of these teenagers and teach them something. So the number one cause of fatal car crashes. Actually, in most rural states, North Carolina is one that falls in that category is wheel drop off so they drop the wheel on the side of the road, is that due to distraction or whatever doesn't matter. Everybody's done that you drop the wheel on the side. Right, and then overcorrecting. That's the number one cause and so we have a wheel drop exercise, all the folks over the Charlotte Motor Speedway and the Smith family has been very nice and letting us use that facility for the last 12 years to train teenagers so that, you know, we've trained over 50,000 teenagers all around the country. So, really, really been impactful. And according to university, North Carolina, the teenagers that have been through the program, and you know, from having your son, the seniors that have been through having the program are 64% less likely to be involved in a car crash. So that's really impactful to me, but to go on about what we do. So it's a it's distraction, we have a distraction, besides teaching teenagers about the dangers of driving distracted. You know, when you're driving the car, you've got to pay attention to driving the car not talking on the phone or messing with the radio or GPS or whatever. So That's pretty important. We do that we do an emergency lane change exercise, which be simulating, having a kid on a bike come on front of you, or having a car change lanes into you that doesn't see you, something like that. We also do a panic stopping exercise to teach teenagers about the analog braking system and how it works and how you're supposed to operate vehicle with that. We also put the special tires on the car to simulate icy and slick road conditions to teach the teenagers about, you know what to do in case of bad weather. Like, how can you drive on an icy road? Well, really, you don't drive, it's ice, you can't drive you don't have any control. So we're teaching them all these things. And actually, part of the neat thing is we bring the parents with as you came and then found out, but a lot of times some of the biggest aha moments are with the parents, you know, because like when I took Driver's Ed, in the center of the steering wheel, it was a horn but you know, and now it's an airbag that comes out at 200 miles per hour. So things have changed a lot for the parents and some of the biggest aha moments a lot of times are with the parents. So it's it's a really it's just neat bonding experience, it's a really good therapy for me, I enjoy seeing the change that happens in these teenagers when they come for just a few hours that they spend with us. The instructors that we have are absolutely incredible. They're who I would want to teach my teenagers and that to me have the to do the instruction and they do neat things like teach the drivers for the Secret Service, how to drag the president around safely. So I mean, they're really really qualified, awesome instructors. And we're just really fortunate to have such a great team to be able to come out there and teach the teenager some licensing skills.


Jason Huddle  24:33

You talk about aha moments, I had my own aha moment. We brought my son they they taught us the how to adjust the mirrors you know, we've always been taught to adjust the mirrors in, they taught us how to adjust the mirrors on our on our cars so that there's no blind spot. You know, here I've been driving forever and I didn't realize that you could do that. I always thought just a blind spot with partial part of life and now I don't have a blind spot my car it's it's incredible.


Doug Herbert  25:00

It takes a little getting used to, doesn't it? But once you do. It's like wow.


Jason Huddle  25:03

Yeah, it's like a whole new world of driving. And I have done the I did the emergency lane. They let the they let the parents by the way, do some of the exercises. Not all of them, but some of the exercises and I did the emergency lane change and the panic break.


Doug Herbert  25:19



Jason Huddle  25:20

it was it was very eye opening. It's It's It's intense. I'll be honest with you. It's intense, but it was a it was very good for him. The coolest thing though, is the spin out where you guys put basically the huge big wheel tires on the back of the cars and and causes the cars spin out at like 14 miles an hour or something like that.


Doug Herbert  25:39

I mean, it's like driving a ice.


Jason Huddle  25:42

Teach them how to get out of the spin though, which is incredible.


Doug Herbert  25:45

How to avoid one hopefully, if they do get everyone how to get out of it.


Jason Huddle  25:49

Yeah, for sure. So, Doug real quick before I let you go, how can people get involved with Breaks or where can they find you guys in order to get there their child's schedule.


Doug Herbert  26:01

We would love to have parents sign up. We always are needing volunteers to help us either at the office or at the program classes. But the best place to get a hold of us find out more information is on the website, which is put on the brakes dot o r g. So put on the brakes. org, go there. There's videos, there's all kinds of information. It's a wealth of information resource for what we're doing.


Jason Huddle  26:20

Doug Herbert with Breaks. Thank you so much for being on the program today. Have fun out there in the salt flats racing on the salt flats today. What a day, its a good day to do it, it looks beautiful.


Doug Herbert  26:31

Oh, I'm telling you it is. I can just you've never seen anything like it. It's just as far as you can see, this is probably one of the only places on earth where you can actually see the curve of the earth. It's just such a huge area. It's unbelievable, so yeah, really neat. Happy to happy to have a wonderful place like this in the United States that we can go and visit and come out racecars.


Jason Huddle  26:53

Well have fun with that incredible view and we hope to talk to you more when you get back to this county. You guys have a great day. Thank you Doug.


Doug Herbert  27:01

Thank you


Commercial  27:08



Jason Huddle  27:25

I know this episode might have seen out of left field we've been talking a lot about COVID. We didn't have the Panthers preview episode, we've been talking about the schools. But there are other problems besides COVID-19. There are other issues besides the presidential election, things that hit us much more closer to home than who's in the White House, or when we'll go back to school, and that is teen driving safety. Without people like Asma and Doug, in our communities, helping to teach kids how to drive safely. Our numbers could be a lot worse. And I urge you guys, if you have a young driver that's coming up or is just getting their license, please stress to them the importance of of not texting and driving, of defensive driving techniques of making sure that they get home safely. We've all been there we were all 16, 10 foot tall and bulletproof. But unfortunately I even had some classmates in my school that never saw graduation because of an auto accident. That being said, I hope you have gotten a lot from this episode. We will be putting all the links in our show notes so you can get connected with both organizations if you wish. Until next week, You have been listening to Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine, a presentation of CabCo Media Group and sponsored by Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group, Cabarrus Arena and Events Center, Cabarrus Eye Center, Cabarrus Health Alliance, Concord Downtown Development Corporation, Level Up Realty, New Hope Worship Center, and Walk Cabarrus. I've been your host Jason Huddle. Until next week. Hug those teens tight y'all.

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