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With Driver Education cut, teens look at other options behind the wheel

driver-ed

    Some parents put bumper stickers like this one on their child’s car as a warning to other motorists on the road.

By Laiken Owens
Intern reporter
     To get a driver’s license at the age of 16, the state of Georgia requires completion of an approved driver education course among other requirements.


    With budget cuts at Pickens High School near the end of the 2012-2013 school year, driver ed. classes are no longer offered. So now the question is, what can students do to complete their approved driver education course?
    With modern technology there are options like taking a course online. Danielle Mallard,  15, is following this path. However, Mallard said the online offering was not proving particularly useful.
    And online training certainly doesn’t offer any chance for real on-the-road instruction. Jordan Noland, 17, who took the classes when they were offered at PHS, said, “Taking easy online classes aren't efficient. I got important on-road instructions and the chapter tests from the book taught me a lot I didn't know.”
    According to www.teendriversource.org, “Motor vehicle crashes remain the number 1 cause of death for adolescents.”
    Classes with real road instruction are offered locally but at a cost to students or parents and some believe that public schools should find ways to offer the classes as part of high school offerings.
    “I think it should be required because it teaches you laws and your rights as a first time driver,” said PHS Junior Caitlyn Sams.
    Josh Holbert, 15, said, the cost of private classes imposes a burden on some students.
    “I don’t think it’s right, because some people don’t have $400 to spend on driver education,” he said.
    According to Georgia law if you wait until you turn 17 years old, then you aren’t required to complete the coursework. But, in reality, most teens want their license at 16 and so must pass off this requirement, often using the private schools.
    Regardless of age, you must meet other requirements, including a statement confirming you have completed 40 hours of supervised driving, a completed certificate of attendance at a high school or a high school diploma/ GED and some paperwork plus a $10 fee. Then you must pass a vision exam and a DMV road skills test.
    Emily Gibson, 14, said she intends to get her learner’s permit when she turns 15 and her driver license at 16.
     “Now my parents will have to pay for me to go to driver ed. school instead of taking a class at school,” the PHS freshman said. “Taking the course teaches driving that you can't just learn in a day, like you would a math lesson.”
    So after all the fuss of having to take driver education does it make a difference?
    Andrew Haygood, 17, said, “I think driver ed. gave me some valuable life skills that I am still using today.”
    However, 17-year-old Johnny Stecovich said, while the class helped, he got a pretty good education behind the wheel with his parents.
    Locally, private classes can be taken at South Cherokee/ Jasper Driver Improvement Clinic #2102, located at 1623B E. Church St. This includes the 30-hour classroom time and the 6 hours behind the wheel required to make it a Georgia approved course. For more information call (706) 692-1632, or go to www.SouthCherokee.com.

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