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Darton is teaching a drivers ed class

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By Jay Polk - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Devin Andre is learning a skill that perplexes even experienced drivers, parallel parking. Like many teenagers approaching their sixteenth birthday, one thought is on her mind.

"I can't wait to get my license," she said.

But in order to get her license when she turns 16, she'll have to take a class like the one that is being offered this week at Darton College. The course has two parts. The first is 30 hours of classroom work.

"They learn all of the different laws, as well as how they should maneuver the car and what they should be looking for when they drive," said Beth Nielsen-Smith, from Darton College.

That's followed by six hours on the road.

"I teach them about lane control. I encourage them that every time they move their can from one position to another that they turn on their turn signal. I request that they utilize their mirrors and check their blind spots, before they move the cars," said Glenda Roberts, a Driving Instructor at Darton College.

These teens have to take this course if they want to get their license at 16 because of Joshua's Law. Named after a Cartersville teenager who died in a 2003 crash, Joshua's Law took effect on January 1st, 2007.

Joshua's Law isn't the only piece of legislation designed to restrict teenagers driving. There's actually a proposal to actually ban teenagers from using these while on the road too.

Cell phone use including texting would be banned for drivers under age 18 under legislation pending in the Georgia legislature. Not surprisingly, driving instructors are in favor of the bill.

"That phone, in my opinion, is a distraction," said Roberts.

What is surprising is some teens are also in favor of it.

"I cannot use my cell phone and drive at the same time. It does not happen. So that law is completely fine by me," said Andre.

The goal of both pieces of legislation - and of this class - is to make teens safer drivers. But they can't do it alone.

Roberts said, "we always encourage the parents, in addition to what I teach them here, to give them as much driving time as possible."

Forty hours of driving experience outside of the class setting, including six hours at night, is required for teens to get a driver's licence. So with a little extra help, these teenagers can drive away with more skills than they came in with.

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