By Jefferson Bryant
If you have a teenager approaching the driving age, then chances are you have heard of Cowboy Driving Academy. Operated by Brad Finley, CDA is the premier driving school for the Stillwater area, as well as Perry, Ponca City, Woodward, and Enid. What you may not know is that they have expanded their services far beyond driver training. Their new Parent Care Program is designed to help parents ensure that they have the tools to reinforce the skills that their new driver needs to stay safe.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that up to 50% of all new drivers will be involved in a collision in their first year due to what are called the “danger zones”, which include inexperience, reckless driving, distractions, drowsy driving, teen passengers, night driving, impaired driving, and improper use of seat belts. To combat these statistics, this new Parent Care Program was developed by Mike Pehl, a 30-year veteran crash investigator. There are two online courses aimed at teaching both parents and students the strategies everyone needs to stay safe. The courses include a pre-license course and a post-license course.
“When I was just a kid in high school, one of my friends was in a terrible, unnecessary car crash. That ‘accident’ left him paralyzed for life. Seeing my friend’s life changed forever changed my life forever. Driving safely was something I took seriously after that. It wasn’t fun and games. I knew it was life and death” said Pehl.
Soon after high school, Pehl began his career in the insurance industry, and eventually became an investigator. “I started to see that there were too many collisions that shouldn’t have happened. Too many collisions that wouldn’t have happened if the drivers had been prepared to make better defensive driving decisions,” Mike told us.
After a neighbor asked Mike to teach her son how to drive, he realized his true calling—to teach teenagers the skills and techniques to drive safely and to help parents become effectively involved in the driver training process.
Bringing Mike’s online courses into the fold with Cowboy Driving Academy creates a comprehensive training program that includes the professional driving school, the parents or guardians, and the new driver. This program is the first of its kind to add structure to the preparation of the driver before they get their license and then help maintain the training and defensive driving messages after they get their license.
The pre-license course is called “Coaching from the Passenger Seat.” Driving schools provide at least the first 6 hours of professional training as required by law, but after your student has their permit, they are required to have a minimum of 50 hours (40 day, 10 night) of seat time with a parent. This can be intimidating for parents, because we don’t want to impart our bad habits to our kids. The pre-license course gives you the tools you need to ensure that your guidance is in-line with the training they have received at Cowboy Driving Academy.
Once your student has passed the driving test and has their license, the second course begins. This is a series of videos that are 2 to 12 minutes long and focus on a specific danger zone every two weeks. The videos demonstrate techniques, tips and tricks, as well as real life videos and dash cam footage on how to avoid these serious situations and what to do when you encounter one. The learning techniques behind this type of program have been shown to decrease collisions in high-risk drivers by an average of 35% in the first year.
With your new driver armed with the skills they need to make good decisions while they are behind the wheel, you rest a little easier. But what about the instances when something does happen? To help you with those moments, there is Cowboy Benefits. Each student that goes through Cowboy Driving Academy receives one full year of Roadside Assistance. Roadside Assistance is just one of the products included in Cowboy Benefits, which is renewable, with six different plans from $10 to $30 per month. The plans include roadside assistance, pre-paid legal assistance, and upgraded plans also include telemedicine, identity theft protection, and even counseling services, all of which are available 24-7. Enrolling in the Cowboy Benefits program covers the entire household, so you know that everyone is protected from many of life’s unforeseen events.
Cowboy benefits is backed by one of the largest providers of these services in the world, which until now has focused on business to business operations, and allows businesses to offer these services to their employees. With Cowboy Benefits, you can now subscribe for your entire family, giving you the peace of mind we are all looking for.
With three teens of my own, I can attest to the benefits of a professional driving school. Our daughter is currently enrolled in Cowboy Driving Academy, and our oldest completed the program in 2016. Cowboy Driving Academy has exceeded our expectations, and will get the call when it is time for our youngest to begin his drivers training. Even though I am a hardcore gearhead and have been through several high-performance and racing schools myself, I did not feel comfortable being the only source of drivers training for our kids. Besides, a professional driving school yields significant discounts insuring a new driver.
Don’t think for one second that this is passing the buck on teaching your child, it isn’t. You are the biggest part of this equation, which is why the new Parent Care Program is so important. As I always tell my kids, better to be a part of the solution than part of the problem. On the road, there are not any do overs!