Driver's Ed Overflow

By Ben Wolf
Monday, January 29, 2007

Parallel parking for the first time can be a daunting task for teens. Perhaps more daunting is actually getting into a driver's ed class in Georgia.

"A lot of kids were all trying to get in at once so they could get their license on time, and there's so many kids at this school that it was hard to get in," said Lowndes High freshman Rachel Rogers.

The new Joshua's Law requires 30 hours of classroom instruction in addition to 40 hours of driving with a parent, something that's causing an overflow of students who need to find a driver's ed class.

"I know that the school board has entertained the idea of hiring another driver's ed instructor, having three, and that's just been in the talks," said driver's ed instructor Steve Lankford.

Roughly half of Georgia's 159 counties offer a driver's ed course through either a public high school or private company. That leaves many rural students with the option of traveling to another county or taking an online version.

"The online test is very difficult, and there has been a pretty good failure rate involved in the virtual test," added Lankford.

Despite the uneven supply and demand throughout the state, students still feel the law is needed.

"We'll have more experienced drivers, so everything will be safer and we'll know more of what we're doing," Rogers said.

Georgia has added a five percent increase to all traffic tickets to help fund driver's education, money the state says will be needed now more than ever.

The state is currently reviewing 83 applications for new instructors and ten applications for new driver's ed schools.