Originally created 01/17/04

New program offers lessons for teen drivers, parents



ATLANTA -- A new state program is designed to assist those who are terrified by the prospect of teaching a teenager to drive.

Georgia Teens Ride with PRIDE, or Parents Reducing Incidents of Driver Error, is a free course that takes only two hours and offers separate sessions for both parents and teens.

"We want to make sure this program is available to every single teen in Georgia," said Steve Davis, director of the Georgia Traffic Injury Prevention Institute in Conyers.

Frankie Jones, the institute's teen driving specialist, said 411 people across Georgia had been trained to teach the course and that many more volunteers were needed to reach the goal of at least four trainers in each county.

So far, about 500 Georgia teens and their parents have been trained, and most reviews based on follow-up surveys have been positive, said Jones.

"I was totally impressed with it," said Ellen Nowicki of Franklin, a mother of three who has since trained to teach the class. "It gives the parents something they can actually take and work with their kids on instead of using their own little bit of knowledge."

Jones said parents and teens seem more comfortable after they are separated in the course.

"We noted that the teens were more willing to talk, and so were their parents," Jones said.

A major part of the training involves the various components of the state's teen driving law, including the prohibition of teen passengers during the first six months of solo driving and the midnight curfew.

There is no official insurance discount for taking the class, but Davis said some agents had granted premium reductions. He said he was meeting with the Georgia insurance commissioner's office in an effort to spread the word to encourage such discounts.

Davis said PRIDE isn't intended as a substitute for driver's education.

On the Net:

Georgia Traffic Injury Prevention Institute: www.ridesafegeorgia.org.