Lowndes County Sheriff donates cars for driver's education

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By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
March 6, 2018

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- Driver's Education students in Valdosta have received new wheels to train in.

Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk donated three cars to the Lowndes High School Driver Education program. It's a partnership the sheriff started more than 15 years ago.

On Tuesday, he said it's a great way to get kids comfortable and safe behind the wheel.

Paulk said while the cars have too many miles to be in service, they can still be useful for the driver's education program, and can help the school keep up with new generations of drivers.

While the rules may sound simple to those new behind the wheel, the sheriff's office is still making sure they're enforced.

"Drive the speed limit, pay attention. First of all, don't get on that cell phone, don't text, don't be a distracted driver. That's what causes a lot of our accidents, and serious accidents," Paulk said.

Driving instructors said as generations change, so do teaching methods.

"Kid's understanding of road rules has changed because of all the handheld devices we have and electronics, they're not paying attention when you drive. It's kind of boring in the back seat, but it's actually hurt a little bit," said Steve Lankford, a Lowndes County Driving Instructor for 16 years.

With congested streets, more cars are leading to more change.

"We're not teaching a four second gap. When I was growing up, it was a two second gap," Lankford said.

The biggest speed bump, though, is still cell phones.

"We're trying to teach them that yes, you may have a cell phone in the car but you can't answer it. You need to come up with a certain ringtone for your parents, that way if they call twice you pull over," Lankford said.

Even with potential dangers down the road, parents are still encouraged to get their kids behind the wheel.

"Ask them to put their phone down and pay attention to what's going on, and when they turn 15, put them in the car. It's going to be like a light clicking on, when they get comfortable they're going to get better," Lankford said.

The sheriff's office and driver education instructors both stress that cell phones are one of the leading causes of serious crashes. Sheriff Paulk advises anyone with safety questions about their teen driver to contact the sheriff's office.

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