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Syracuse's Branch Driving School celebrates 45 years

One who teaches driving, actually spends much of the time being driven. Add this to Branch's Driving School (BDS) President and Chief Financial Officer Deraux L. Branch's drive, and make that twice driven. Deraux is the second generation Branch to drive the school his father Andrew N. Branch and mother Fanny W. Branch started in April of 1963.

This Sunday April 20 join the Branch family as they celebrate 45 years in business in Syracuse. The business was started as a part-time enterprise to supplement dad's full time job in the research department at Upstate Medical Center.

Is this anniversary a big deal? Consider the numbers: more than 350,000 have learned to drive at Branch's Driving School. There are eight locations, a fleet of seven cars including a standard utility vehicle (SUV) and 22 employees.

"SUV is a different animal," Deraux said, 'it's a different feel."

Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin Walsh has noted in his talks to area high schools that his department rarely saw rollovers before SUVs came out on the market.

Branch awarded city school driver's ed contract

This year Branch was awarded the Syracuse City School Districts driver's education contract. They overtook their competition because of programming and service Deraux said. The School District's point person, John Hohm, who teaches at Corcoran, agrees. He teaches driver's ed in the summer, but with the collaboration with Branch the school's will be able to offer driver's education on a year round basis.

"Branch is providing year round exposure," Hohm said, "the opportunity offers lifelong values, as well as accident avoidance, lower costs."

The first eight-week session is already underway. Seniors and juniors who attend the four city high schools are given priority on a first come, first serve basis. The benefits of the course include a 10 percent discount on auto insurance, drive after 9 p.m. at 17 years old, and an education that will last a lifetime. Deraux said he takes all drivers on the highway and has them passing18-wheelers and teaches them about cruise control. Off the highway he takes students through drive-throughs, to gas stations for fuel and how to get air.

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