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New law makes driver’s training mandatory for 17-year-olds to get licenses in Georgia

A new study shows fear is the number one reason teens aren't getting their driver's license.
A new study shows fear is the number one reason teens aren't getting their driver's license.(Source: Pixabay)
Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 5:55 AM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A new law will soon change the way some teenagers are able to get their driver’s licenses in the state of Georgia.

Right now, only 15 and 16-year-olds are required to take a driver’s education class before getting their first license, but soon that will also include 17-year-olds.

Beginning July 1, 2021, 17-year-olds will be required to successfully complete the Joshua’s Law component of Georgia’s driver training program, which is 30 hours of classroom or online instruction plus six hours of on-the-road training.

Frenchye Mike, the owner of Premier Driving Services in Savannah, says she is so happy to see the new law going into effect soon. Right now, she says many of their clients are 17 and 18-year-old drivers that were court-ordered to take classes after they received driving citations. She hopes requiring everyone under 18 to take driver’s education will help make the roads safer.

“It is an easy process, however, it is most needed. We are going to be driving for our lifetime and if you don’t get the bare minimum skills prior, it is going to lead to fatalities and accidents and it is really going to be unfortunate if you don’t have the education in place first,” said Frenchye Mike, Director/Owner of Premier Driver Services.

Many states already have this law in place but several states do not, including South Carolina which only requires courses for 15 and 16-year-olds.

According to the DDS, there is a range of approved options and costs that parents and teens can use to fulfill the requirements. The most economical will be choosing an Online Class paired with the Parent Taught Road Training. All options can be found at the DDS website here. The Alcohol and Drug Awareness Program is taught in most high schools and is also available online.

For complete teen driver training information including a practice knowledge test, please visit the DDS website at www.dds.georgia.gov.

One Hinesville police lieutenant, who oversees traffic enforcement, says the new law is another way to create safer roads for those young and old.

Lieutenant Scott Hensler says new, young drivers make up only around five percent of the department’s traffic stops. The top three violations include distracted driving, speeding during inclement weather and following another vehicle too close.

These are mistakes, Lt. Hensler says, that can be prevented by requiring 17-year-olds to take driver’s training before getting their license.

“The new drivers are more focused on what they just learned in their driver’s training, and they pay attention to it. However, they do make mistakes due to a lack of experience,” Lt. Hensler said.

The Hinesville Police Department wants to create more awareness in the community about traffic enforcement laws and how the traffic enforcement division operates. The police chief tells me the department will soon offer a Traffic Enforcement Awareness Program and encourages new drivers to sign up.

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