Teens get behind the wheel, but not on the roads - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Teens get behind the wheel, but not on the roads

Dougherty County - 1.5 million Georgia teenagers are licensed to drive, but only one in three of those teens received formal driver's education. Right now, driver's education isn't mandatory in Georgia though that could change soon. A new national program called Safe America teaches safe driving by putting teens behind the wheel, but not on the roads.

Safe America brought driving simulators into Dougherty High School to help students become safer drivers by teaching important driving lessons. "Steering, braking, staying on the road, staying the lane, steering through cones. Actually, the same kind of feel if you were going through a driving course in an actual car at the DMV," said one student.

"These kids may never receive any driver's education. Either it's not available or it's too expensive. That's why Safe America has taken on the challenge of helping these teens," said Pat Wilder, Safe America.

The national organization is going school to school training students on the driving simulators. Two in five teen aged drivers are involved in a car wreck each year in Georgia. The main reason why,"speeding, inexperience, and distractions," said Wilder. The simulators help teens avoid these common and sometimes deadly driving mistakes.

"While it's not live street driving, this is the first step in the right direction to prepare them for street driving," said State Farm Insurance Agent Jan Cooper.

Jan Cooper says insuring a teen driver is always a risk. Driver's education lowers that risk, and that's why State Farm awarded Dougherty High $5,000 to grow the Safe America driving program - a program that will hopefully prevent these students from becoming the next traffic statistic.

A bill called Joshua's Law would require Driver's Education in Georgia. It passed the House and Senate and is waiting the Governor's approval.

posted at 6:15PM by kathryn.murchison@walb.com

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