JOHN: Honey, can I talk about the car first this time?
LAURIE: Of course you can, sweetheart. I’m sure you want to talk about the Chevy Trax, especially since it’s one of the first 2016 cars we’ve had to review…
JOHN: I liked the Trax…
LAURIE: Yes, you really liked the Trax. I mean, what’s not to like…
JOHN: And I don’t blame you…
LAURIE: You just can’t help loving the numbers! $24,000 fully loaded! And 34 mpg highway, 26 city. And here’s the thing that really gets me, Johnny. The Chevy Trax has a Ecotec Turbo 1.4 liter four-cylinder engine that’s so responsive. And speaking about responsive, how about the way the car handles…
JOHN: Are you going to leave me anything to talk about?
LAURIE: Why, that’s just it, honey. There’s so much to talk about with the Chevy Trax. Deep-tinted glass front and rear, front intermittent and rear windshield wipers, outside heated mirrors and a rear window defroster—great for those icy days—halogen headlamps and automatic on/off headlamp controls, and a 7” color touch-screen with a rearview backup camera…
JOHN: Honey, let me thank you again for letting me take the lead on this…
LAURIE: You’re welcome, darling. Now, what did you want to say?
JOHN: Well, you’ve covered most of it for sure. You did leave me some safety items to talk about, and besides the backup camera you already told them about, there are 10 airbags, remote start, keyless entry, rear door locks with child security, traction control, content theft alarm and a theft deterrent system. Plus, I thought the car was easy to get in an out of with lots of head and leg room, even in the back, and I would think it would make a great choice for a college student – easy to get around in, room for friends, good gas mileage, safety – just about all the things a parent would want their son or daughter to have. Good car, good price. At least I got a few words.
LAURIE: Johnny and I rarely step up on our soapbox but this week we’re stepping aside from our regular car review to talk to you about a program called B.R.A.K.E.S.
JOHN: B.R.A.K.E.S. stands for “Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe.” It is a life-saving Teen Pro-Active Driving School.
LAURIE: Kia Motors America is working with B.R.A.K.E.S. in this tremendous effort to bring awareness to teen drivers in ways that simply are not addressed in student driving courses.
JOHN: You know I am big on making cars as safe as possible, but if we can make drivers, especially young ones, safer drivers, then we are doubling or quadrupling our chances of avoiding accidents and that should be the goal of all of us. Thank you Kia, and thank you B.R.A.K.E.S.
LAURIE: This 501(c)(3) charity’s free advanced driver training course is being held at the zMax Dragway in Concord, NC, on November 14-15 and again December 5-6. Registration is online at www.PutOnTheBrakes.org/schedule. B.R.A.K.E.S.’ highly skilled professional instructors will provide four hours of intensive, hands-on, defensive driving education instruction for hundreds of teens in the U.S. Over 17,000 teens nationwide have already graduated from this program, which began in 2008. As Kia VP Tim Chaney explains it, “Kia is committed to working with B.R.A.K.E.S. to eliminate the epidemic of teen traffic fatalities. This program provides unmatched tools to help teens and their parents become better drivers and thus save lives.”
You know, Johnny, it’s a staggering fact that 660,000 drivers use cellphones and text while driving. A quarter of teen drivers respond to text messaging while driving. The result is, drivers under the age of 20 have the largest proportion of fatal accidents involving distracted driving, and this accounts for the leading cause of vehicle accidents among teens.
JOHN: Doug Herbert is the founder of B.R.A.K.E.S. In January 2008 he lost his two teenage sons in a tragic car accident. That’s when he redirected his loss into something to benefit other teens, that they might not meet the same fate. He said, “B.R.A.K.E.S. is committed to providing teens with the training they need to make safer decisions on the road and prepare for the hazardous conditions they will encounter.”
LAURIE: Among the things teens will learn in the training curriculum are accident avoidance, that is, what to do if an animal or object jumps out in front of a car, and how to make a split-second decision to help negotiate a quick, evasive lane change without losing control of the vehicle.
JOHN: Also, like you said, honey, demonstrating to teens the danger that cell phones, text messaging and other distractions pose while driving is a good thing. I see it all the time with adults when I’m driving and it’s really upsetting. Then, there are things you can’t control, such as what to do when one or more of the car’s wheels veers off the road surface and to the shoulder, and how to regain control. Anything that helps you avoid an accident or survive an accident is a very good thing.
LAURIE: I can remember several occasions when I would have benefitted from that knowledge.
JOHN: And here’s something that older drivers, such as us, had to learn ourselves, and that’s to do with the advent of ABS brakes. It took some time and effort for us to get use to the pulsating brake pedal effects of ABS brakes and how to control them. The B.R.A.K.E.S. panic-stop course instructs students on proper braking techniques to help stop a vehicle in the shortest distance possible while maintaining control. There are a lot of new cars today that incorporate braking in as short a distance as possible into their technology—again, all good. But you need to know the basics for yourself.
LAURIE: Another thing the school addresses is car control and recovery, and actually sets up a wet skid pad to simulate we-road conditions so that students learn how to recover from both oversteering rear wheel and understeering front wheel skids. So, honey, tying this up and together—we’re urging parents and grandparents to look into this terrific program because yes, it could save your child’s life. But another thing—you were saying about the Chevy Trax that you think it would be a terrific young driver’s car.
JOHN: Well, I know it would be after the young driver took the B.R.A.K.E.S. course.
LAURIE: Yes, a solid car at a great price and full of safety features and top safety ratings. If you listened to our weekly Thursday morning national radio broadcast of “Driving Me Crazy” last week on “Westchester on the Level,” on www.BlogTalkRadio.com, you heard our regular guest, John “Bugsy” Lawlor, NPR Radio’s “Car Talk” radio show’s Technical, Spiritual, and Menu Advisor, speak about B.R.A.K.E.S. You can go online and hear that broadcast on demand—well worthwhile—as Bugsy was one of the early advocates of teen defensive driving schools. Drivers Ed courses do not prepare a young driver for the dangers they may face on the road. So, help make your teen road-ready and look into B.R.A.K.E.S.
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John and Laurie are a married couple in their “sensational sixties” who talk about today’s hottest, newest cars—and still manage to go to bed without getting angry at one another at night.
John and Laurie Wiles have a combined driving history of ninety-five years. Laurie is one of only thirty-six journalists who are members of the prestigious New England Automotive Press Association (Tom and Ray Magliozzi, hosts of National Public Radio’s “Car Talk” among them.) Since 1998, Laurie has test-driven and reviewed over eight-hundred new model cars, trucks, and SUVs. John, a lifelong car enthusiast, has owned more than forty vehicles (so far.)
John and Laurie recently got the idea of combining on a weekly car review. Laurie explains. “One day, a gorgeous blue Porsche Cayman pulled in the drive. Johnny slides behind the wheel, cocks an eyebrow, and says, ‘The name’s Bond. James Bond,’ like he’s Sean Connery or something. The next week, a Chevy Camaro rolls in. Johnny gets one glimpse of that muscle car and shouts out, ‘Can you say N-A-S-C-A-R?’ Once I realized he wasn’t speaking in tongues, I realized his voice, together with mine, might be fun. After all, ‘sixty is the new forty.’”
John adds, “Men and women have very different opinions about cars and I think it’s good for people to get an understanding of what a couple think about a car, and what they like and don’t like. Of course, that doesn’t mean they have to agree on everything—you know, like the way it is in a marriage.”
Laurie, whose professional name is Laurie Bogart Morrow, is the author of a dozen books, including The Hardscrabble Chronicles (Penguin Putnam) and The Giant Book of Dog Names (Simon and Schuster). John is a retired program manager in the National Defense contracting industry and a teacher in the public school system. They live happily in Pinehurst, NC.