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Best of Colorado Springs 2015 - 2017

Meet Tom Antkow, Owner

After attending the State University of New York at Farmingdale, Mr. Antkow began his career in the field of driver safety in 1973 as a professional driving instructor with Fitzgerald's Driving School, one of the largest commercial driving schools on Long Island.

Tom Antkow

Mr. Antkow continued his education in this field by successfully completing certification courses at The Center for Safety at New York University, mastering the five-step Defensive Driving Techniques program offered by Harold Smith, and obtaining pre-licensing classroom instructor status by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. As a result of his experience and expertise, Mr. Antkow was promoted to Senior Instructor where he had the responsibility of training new instructors in defensive driving techniques. Conducting behind the wheel training for students from the general public, as well as those attending driver education programs at six area high schools, was also part of Mr. Antkow's day to day duties. In 1974, Mr. Antkow became the Adaptive Driving Instructor for Fitzgerald's, specializing in the instruction of disabled students requiring special equipment.

After a career spanning over 35 years, Mr. Antkow has been personally responsible in evaluating and training well over 20,000+ students, clients, and patients in the art of defensive driving tactics as well as enabling disabled drivers to find a means of regaining or maintaining their independence with a special expertise in brain function and spinal cord injuries. Mr. Antkow currently is the President and CEO of Driver Safety Consultants, Inc. and Colorado Driver Safety Institute. As current President of The Driving School Association of the Americas (DSAA), and a certified State BOST third party tester and a certified EDAP Defensive Driving Classroom Trainer for Colorado DOR/DMV, Mr. Antkow's  skills, knowledge, and experience are second to none. Further Credentials include specialties as a Certified Clinical Driving Evaluator dealing with "the Spectrum" as well as ALL issues of aging. As a member of the steering committee for DRIVE SMART, Colorado Springs Tom is a guest speaker at several area High Schools.

Mr. Antkow has appeared in feature articles in the Woodmen Edition and the Colorado Springs Gazette. He has also been featured on the local ABC affiliate Channel 13, appeared as a guest on Channel 10's "Talkline", was the subject of the news on KOAA channel 5 evening edition and KRDO "Good Morning Colorado". Tom has been a guest on KRDO radio with "CK in the Morning", as well as Joseph Machelli's afternoon and Richard Randall's morning program on KVOR radio AM 740 as a traffic safety specialist. Mr. Antkow has had shows on AM 1300 KCSF radio and as a part-time host on KVOR AM 740 for Cumulus Radio Corp.

Dedication

Driver Safety Consultants is dedicated to the memory of Thomas Antkow's beloved daughter Melissa, who died tragically on December 22, 1999 as the result of an automobile accident. Tom Antkow spent nearly 22 years teaching people how to drive safely, but none of his expertise could help him cope with the car crash that killed his 23-year old daughter Melissa.

Melissa Antkow

Melissa Antkow was struck in Phoenix by a 16-year-old girl driving a Dodge Ram just before Christmas 1999. The teenager ran a red light at an intersection and broadsided Melissa's car.

Every day, Tom Antkow thinks about the different things that could have kept his daughter from that intersection.He thinks about them when he's in his car when he's sitting in the living room when he glances at Melissa's picture next to the urn that holds her ashes.If she had been a few seconds late to pick up her two boys from daycare; if only she had paused a few moments before entering that intersection.

"It's amazing to me ... someone so vibrant is suddenly gone in an instant," Antkow said. "After that, I could have done one of two things: I could have given up, or I could crusade for my daughter's life," he said. Crusading for Melissa's life meant teaching driver safety courses again. Now he's giving driving lessons to teenagers like the one who caused the crash that killed his daughter. He says he has committed his life to keep others from making deadly mistakes while driving. After years of teaching people how to handle perils of the road, Antkow knows precisely what caused the crash that killed Melissa: inexperience. "If (the 16-year-old driver) had more experience, more training, more awareness - that accident never would have happened," Antkow said. Antkow estimates he has trained more than 6,000 students and disabled drivers since he started teaching defensive driving in 1973. In the late 1970s, Tom founded the Southwestern School of Driving in Phoenix. He headed the Adaptive Driving Program at Sharp Rehabilitation Center in San Diego and then formed a driver safety consulting business there. He later switched careers, entering the wine business in California. Two years later, he moved to the Springs to live near Melissa and her family. She ended up back in Phoenix after divorcing her husband. Just three months after the crash, he founded Driver Safety Consultants in Colorado Springs in his daughter's memory. He trains young drivers, offers refresher courses for seniors, and evaluates the needs of drivers with disabilities. Antkow is still haunted by the crash that killed his daughter. He wears a crucifix and a ring of Melissa's on a gold chain around his neck. It's the same crucifix she was wearing in the last photo taken of her. In the photo, she's smiling, with braces on her teeth. It's a smile that was rare in her photographs because she had always been self-conscious of her slightly crooked front teeth, Antkow said. Another photo of Melissa taken years earlier is attached to the glove compartment of the red Ford Contour Antkow uses for his driving courses. In the photo, her lips are slightly upturned, but she's still hiding her teeth. Sometimes, when he's giving lessons, Antkow glances at the photograph and swears Melissa is smiling at him.