By Ben Wolf
Monday, January 1, 2006
As the calendar flips to 2007, sixteen-year-olds in Georgia must do more before getting behind the wheel on their own.
"Now with this new Joshua’s Law, it's making formal education mandatory for every child after January 1, 2007," says Lowndes High Drivers Instructor Steve Lankford.
Before, sixteen-year-olds were able to obtain a driver's license with 40 hours of driving with a parent.
Lankford expects driver's ed courses to be crowded but says the extra time behind the wheel could save lives.
"I don't know if 40 hours with a parent is enough time for some kids. It could be for other kids; it could take them 80 hours."
Teen drivers welcome the new law with open arms.
"I feel better. I feel safer riding with my friends. They know what they're doing cause a lot of parents don't ride with their kids," says Lowndes High Sophomore Lynde Taylor.
"It does prepare you because it puts you in a controlled environment teaching you," adds Lowndes High Sophomore Elizabeth Tori.
The law was passed in 2005 by the state House and Senate after Joshua Brown of north Georgia was killed in a car accident on a wet road. His parents hope the tougher guidelines will curb the number of teens killed in car crashes.
A five percent fee was added to traffic tickets beginning in July of 2005 in order to fund driver's education.