Category — Jeff Payne
Jeff Payne tells RaceDrive® Radio all about the Driver’s Edge Program which is designed for the young drivers of America.
Participants get taught in-car by professional race car drivers. There is no charge to participate in the Driver’s Edge Program.
This is Derek Ross here: The founder of RaceDrive Interactive Inc.
You might have been expecting our second show to be about some other Auto Racing topic ?
Well I figured that since this is National Teen Driver Safety Week – this is a perfect time to have our second audio program at RaceDrive® Radio be about
something that we are very passionate about: Teen Driver Education:
These programs are all being taught by professional Race Car Drivers who care about the youth of America.
Thanks for joining us – Here’s hoping you enjoy the show.
So we are sitting here with Jeff Payne of Driver’s Edge. Jeff thanks for taking time this morning. I know it is pretty early in the morning and we just finished a Driver’s Edge program here in Las Vegas. And we are here at the action central world headquarters of Driver’s Edge.
Yes the international headquarters of Driver’s Edge, my living room.
So a lot of people ask me I wear the Driver’s Edge hat at a number of motor sports events, they say what he is Driver’s Edge?
First I love the fact that you where the Driver’s Edge hat at events. I always think it’s cool because every weekend we spot one or two hats and we think that’s pretty cool – oh ya that’s us !
What is Driver’s Edge ? Driver’s Edge quite frankly is a program that was just born of frustration. Frustration of the fact that everyone is so quick to point fingers, to point blame because young drivers are being so reckless now.
Yet none of us have ever taken the time to teach them how to drive in the first place. So back in 2002, I came up with his idea to form this program that would get young drivers behind the wheel, for free and to show them all the things that none of us have ever been taught in traditional driver’s education.
Sort of a MTV type of approach in teaching kids how to drive. To stop killing themselves out there are on the highway. I get asked that all the time, what is Driver’s Edge ? Once you explain to them that it is a program designed to save lives, to get kids and show them what happens when they lose traction going into a skid, what panic braking is, what to do, in case there is an problem in front of them on the highway …
After – everyone says that sounds like a great program, the second comment is can adults do it to ? It’s one of those things that none of us have ever been taught in those situations.
I had my license 36 hours before I totaled my car. That shows the great job that my Spanish teacher did in training me, and what an idiot I was behind the wheel when I was 16 !
That lack of seat time and lack of mental decisions without that experience … People are always asking me – I’d love to do program like that with my kids, I’d love to do it but we just can’t afford that sort of thing. So you know – some other time I guess. When we have money will be able to come up to Driver’s Edge. What you say to them about that?
As a side note, as you know people fly or drive miles, to get to the program, just this past weekend we had people who flew into town for the event. Or drove eight hours. But then you’ll also find people everyone once in awhile, you talk to Parents – who said I tried to get my neighbors to go, but when they find out it is at the speedway – “oh that’s 40 minutes away we can’t go that far.”
So your child’s life and this once-in-a-lifetime education and other people will travel the globe to get its on the other side of town so we won’t do it ! It just blows me away!
Surprisingly everyone expects the class to cost money, the value of the cost is about $450 per head. From the outset, when we put this whole idea together, the idea was to keep it free to make it available to all young drivers, not all families have the means to do something like this.
At the same time I didn’t want to the program to be perceived as, ya, they are just using teen fatalities as a way to make money. Because this program isn’t about making money it is about making a difference. If you get the right partners involved in the right supporters, quite frankly the kids shouldn’t have to pay a fee. We should be able to do this the way we are doing this right now.
You have had some longtime partners in Driver’s Edge to keep the program going.
It’s amazing how it has worked. I don’t know if you know the whole back story?
No I don’t. And just before Jeff goes any further, I am one of the Driver’s Edge instructors. I remember when back in the early 2000’s when Jeff and I were working other Corporate programs and other motor sports programs, on the way into a hotel I would be pulling in my rack of computers and stuff …
Jeff would be doing the same thing, the luggage carts would become the mobile tech center. I remember you putting it all together, but no I don’t know the whole story.
We used to have a company out here in Las Vegas, called Autopian. It was designed to be a country club but not for golf but for automobiles. We had a lot of high end stuff with the hotels and a fleet of Ferrari’s and open wheel race cars.
We did a lot of high-end corporate training. Part of that was I always wanted to do this team program. There was no tragedy involved, it was simply born out of my frustrations of people pointing fingers at kids for been reckless on the highways.
So I’ve actually had – the nonprofit, the 5013 C since 1998. The first program wasn’t until June 2002. So for 1998, 1999 and all those years that we were talking of working together, I’d be working my day job and come home at night trying to put this Driver’s Edge program together. But it is hard to focus on that we spending all day working on something else.
So January 2002 I gave myself 90 days as my new years resolution, to find the funding to do the first pilot of event.
And sure enough, it was actually very cool. On the same day within 45 minutes of each other, I got two phone calls. One call was from Station Casinos out here in Las Vegas, the other was from Sprint – the local telephone company here at the time, both saying yup, we are in whatever we can do to help!
We hosted the program at Sunset Station, one of the local casinos here, Sprint was involved with funding and some other funding the I had sort of scraped together, and it was actually at the first event where I had talked Bridgestone into giving us some tires. I had asked a lot of people from the state of Nevada to come and check it out, and literally from that event the folks at Bridgestone saw it and said this is what you want to do ? We need to help you take this on the road.
The people from the state of Nevada said yes – we need to get to grant to help to expand this.
So literally from the one event that was in 2002, starting in 2003 we had a national tour with Bridgestone following along with their “Drive and Learn Programs” that they do around the country.
We received a grant from the state of Nevada so we were doing a half a dozen of events here in in this state and it has just grown and since then.
From a national standpoint if it wasn’t for the folks at Bridgestone who were sort of like a family, the program would not be where it is, and as you now know the Indy car Series is now a partner, CARMAX which has been awesome, EPIC, the Ethanol Promotional and Informational Council which came on board this year, which we think is pretty cool, we are trying to get more partners to expand the program.
But it’s really neat, the partners that we do have. We get approached by people quite often, you even see that at the program, they would like to get involved but 90% of the people have some agenda behind their interest in the program.
So it is awesome to see the folks that we are involved with, Bridgestone and the IndyCar Series are involved with the program simply because, we actually care about making a difference, we have a lot of employees with teens, it is the number-one killer of teens, how can we help you ? It’s nice to see that companies and people and groups do get it and do care.
I know that this weekend, the half an hour or 40 minutes, or whatever, to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, it is a great facility, and they helped you with your program this weekend, and I guess they help you with all of your programs here is Las Vegas ?
On a local basis they bend over backwards they donate everything to us, so instead of paying for the facility they donate it to us, which is awesome, if it wasn’t for them, we can’t do program without a site, it is one of the few areas in southern Nevada that is large enough to host one of our programs.
Right, because it does take up quite a bit of room. For those who haven’t been to a Driver’s Edge program, there is accident avoidance, an ABS Braking and Steering exercise and other modules that “I” haven’t even seen yet.
That’s right, because you are always in the car getting tossed around. It’s actually really cool the way we have it now, it’s a half-day program. We register a hundred kids, before the program, and we strongly encourage the parents to come out there as well, we do put them through four modules.
Two of them are behind the wheel. You just mentioned the exercises that we do. We do panic breaking exercise. An ABS breaking exercise . We do an evasive lane change maneuver. And we also do a skid exercise, that gives kids an opportunity to experience what really happens when the vehicle looses traction and goes into a skid.
But then we complement that with two static modules. One that is loosely based on Firestone’s Car Care Academy that they do around the country. We have one
of our instructors that talks to the kids about everything from tire safety to basic maintenance tips, to literally hand positions and seat, mirror positions, avoiding distractions, and everything else in the kitchen sink that we can get into this module.
But yet do it in an entertaining way that keeps the kids interested, but yet gives them good information, we present this in a different way that is to get them to understand how important it is to wear a seat belt, or “Ya”I never really knew I needed to check my tire pressure, it’s amazing the comments we get from kids.
What is one of the most important things you learn? I never knew the fluids of the car, stuff like that.
And there are the other modules like the law-enforcement component with Trooper Honea.
And that has actually been rewarding because, we’ve worked with law enforcement agencies, and Fire Department agencies around the country now, where they give their time and they come out and run this module, depending what city we are in.
They will bring out everything from fatal vision goggles, which are drunk goggles that the kids and parents can put on, to roll-over simulators, to Bat Mobiles – which are mobile alcohol testing units, all sorts of other props, just to interact with the teens and parents, without coming across as the man, yet been able to get their message out there as well.
We wrap up everything, we give the kids a pretest and a post-test. We actually follow up with the kids 12 to 24 months later because, the program is free, we want the kids to have a lot of fun, but the whole point of doing all of us he is about saving lives and making a difference.
And it’s not just to about get them in and then send them on the way and there ya go. We actually follow up with them, we collect the data, and whole point is trying to statistically show that “hey look” teens – are not all reckless and out of control, you can actually save lives and make a difference.
It was neat yesterday, it was uncharacteristically cool here in Las Vegas over the weekend, kids out there and families out there shivering away, not really dressed for the cool temperatures we had, but at the end the there was a whole gang of parents and teens around Trooper Honea. He was working with the vision goggles there at the end, and they continued to ask him questions as they were leaving, I thought that was great.
This was the perfect example, this weekend, the weather had been over 90 Degrees the past two weeks, we were looking to the great weekend, we had been on the road all weekend and finely home for a weekend, and all sudden you’ve got 25 to 30 mph winds , but you look outside during the registration part, and you have a line of kids you couldn’t even see the end of because it seemed like it was caught off by the curvature of the earth.
When you really stop to think about the, it catches me sometimes, wow they’re all spending about 45 minutes or so out there in line, they all came from the city or they flew in, but they came here because they actually think that somehow we’re able to make a difference their family’s life.
That just blows me away especially when you hear some of the stories these families have gone through, they’ve taken the time out of their weekend, and the kids, it’s even harder for the kids, they have their lives, they know how to drive, stuff like that, but yet here they are spending their weekend because we are doing something they feel that is that important and we can make a difference in their lives.
It was great I chatted to a lot of people this weekend who were? If you want to say repeat customers ? Their first son or daughter had come to program now they are bringing their second or third child to the program and based on what the first one who had come through the program, the word was you’ve got to do it!
It wasn’t mom and dad driving them along, no, you’ve got to get into the program! You’ve got to get registered, you’ve got to get to the website and make it happen! I know how it happens, but tell us, how does it happen? How do register for the program?
It couldn’t be any easier! www.DriversEdge.com or www.DriversEdge.org It lists our tour dates, we only have a few events remain in this year. We’re going to be in Charlotte and Orlando, and we have a few Las Vegas programs going on.
But our website in addition to the registration page we have a notification list. Depending on where you are in the country, we have about 50 cities listed, you just check the city that is nearby you, if we have a program schedule anywhere in the area we will send you we will send you an e-mail that Driver’s Edge is coming to your town.
And I have to say depending on cities that we go to, it just blows me away the response we get from people. We just had a Nashville Program back in August, the entire program fill up in 16 minutes. It is sort of like a concert going on sale.
We hear stories all the time from families, we were sitting at our computer waiting for registration to open. It shows how important this really is.
It is an epidemic out there. Car collisions are by far the number-one killer of America’s youth. Over 1200 16 to 20 year olds are injured or killed every single day. And it doesn’t need to be that way.
There was a huge waiting list for this weekend was there not?
Yes even in Las Vegas, where we have the ongoing programs, not only was the program full, last I looked we had 339 families on the waiting list. There were families that tried to register, who couldn’t, but they put their names down on the hopes of getting into this program.
So it just shows how important this is becoming. The education system right now as far as I am concerned, is not doing its job, all these kids are dying, it’s not just teens that are dying, they can cause fatalities for other drivers as well. Families are affected, and it doesn’t need to be that way.
You’ve handpicked your instructors, they are not just someone on the side of the road with a cardboard sign that says will work for food ?
No, in fact I’ve been really fortunate. Like I’ve known you for years. I’ve known as heck of a lot of guys who years ago in the Indy car Series and other sports car series in Racing in general from my background, so it was awesome when we first started the program, I asked a core group of guys if they wanted to help with this program ?
I was amazed at how many even just volunteered their time and to come to Vegas and to get this program off the ground. And now that we have expanded their is a core group of guys, the group of about 25 guys, who work the events, there are three or four who work them all, but then depending own their racing schedules and where we are in the country, it depends which other guys work the events.
Yes it’s not just the fact that everyone has professional driving experience, just because you’ve been a racing car driver, or have been in the Indy 500, doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily work the program because there is also a big difference between being able to race a car and truly been able to connect and instruct these kids who are out there on the program.
I feel really fortunate that, you are obviously included in this too, everyone that is part of the event, not only are they very talented from a driving standpoint, they are personable, they are passionate, they care about the program, they are able to connect to these kids and they are truly making a difference.
You! Are making a difference and saving lives.
Well I will tell I am glad to be a part of the program. It is a great feeling at the end of the day, and when the parents come up and thank you, we all look back and as someone who has been through it before, we all have our stories of what “we” went through. People saying I really wish I could do that. You know what? Wouldn’t it be just great? This isn’t just for them, it is for everyone but, it is great that in those formative years of driving, in those formative years of experience actually getting a chance to do some of
Anti lock brakes. I say that 99.9% of the groups in the car have never experienced an Anti lock brake stop before. Which he is just a great feature. So now that yesterday or after the weekend they have some of that experience.
Yes even more so own the skid exercise, as soon as the vehicle loses traction you see all sorts of different reactions from, just letting go of the wheel, to freezing and freaking out. Which is exactly what they would do if that were to happen to them on the highway for the first time. And that is the whole purpose of this program.
Giving them the opportunity to experience these situations here, and to realize the car did not roll over . This is what I need to do? That is where my eyes need to go ? So if that does happen to them on the highway, it becomes a little bit more instinctive, a little bit more calmer . Hopefully we can prevent tragedies from happening.
Just like you said, it is not at classroom they are actually doing it.
That is the thing that we hear most, there is one thing to tell someone to turn into the skid, or look where you want to go, or try ABS Brakes. But to actually get out there and experience that, that is when the light bulb goes on . It is also an eye opening experience too. You’re out there, you see how the program works. You get the cocky 18 year-old kid that thinks he knows everything, and rates himself at 10 on a scale of 1 to 10 on the driving ability standpoint.
Gets out there on the skid exercise and realizes, wow, I’m only going 25 miles per hour and I can’t control that..
OK maybe I am not as cool as I thought I was . Or the timid nervous girl, who has only had her permit maybe a few months, freak out about driving, maybe has had a friend in an accident or something, and all of a sudden you get them behind the wheel , you work with them a little bit, and then they realize ABS brakes? – I can stop like this ?
This isn’t as bad as I thought. It’s nice to have the reality check with the guys, build the confidence with the girls, bottom line they all walk away with greater awareness and respect for driving, and most importantly if anything ever happens to them out there after the program, they have had the opportunity to experience those circumstances in a controlled environment, instead of out there on the highway where the consequences can be deadly.
So the next steps for Driver’s Edge ? You have a few programs coming up? And wrap up 2008 …
We have Charlotte and we have Orlando. Orlando is the end of October. October 25th October 26, 2008. That will be our last national event of the year. It will be the first time we have conducted the program in Orlando, so I’m looking forward to that. We have Charlotte coming up this weekend. It is one of those cities that since we have put online has filled up, which just amazes me. Then we just want to make the program bigger and better.
We are constantly looking for new additional partners and additional funding. We are only limited by the funding for this program. We’re just trying to grow.
You were talking about the instructors as well, it is really neat to see that some of the folks that work with us now , talking about Raphael Matos earlier, he is the perfect example of the guys who have given their time and come out to the program, yet they are starting their racing career, he will be competing in the Indy car Series next year, and there are lot of kids out there, we have kids that we call DEGS.
Guys and gals both who come to the program, they think the guys are cute, or guys who are fans of some of our instructors. Really nice to see some of these guys know make it. Hopefully we will build the bigger fan base for them too.
The kids are going that’s the guy who spent time with me on the skid exercise . So it is really nice to see. But for 2009 and down the road we have a great partners right now .
Especially with Bridgestone who has been with us since the very beginning. The Indy car Series has been awesome the last couple of years. We just want to continue to expand those relationships, and bring new partners in who seem to get it and actually care. Together we can make a difference and save lives.
Check out the website. We always say, if so local community support is there, we will go to any town, anywhere to do an event. We had been approached by a lot of people, everyone from individuals, to school districts, to organizations to bring the program in their town, we will go anywhere. It is all about making a difference. Like I said, car collisions are by far the number one killer of America’s youth, and it doesn’t need to be that way. That’s all we are trying to do, is to save lives.
Exactly ! Thanks Jeff for taking the time today, we really appreciate it .
October 20, 2008 Comments Off on Jeff Payne of the Driver’s Edge Teen Driving Program on RaceDrive® Radio