Local 16-year-olds line up to drive

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Even as national figures show that teenagers are waiting longer to get driver's licenses, local driving schools say they are flush with teens eager to hit the highways.

Augusta Christian Schools student James Grayson, 16, gets ready for his second lesson from Jones Driver Education School.  Annette M. Drowlette/Staff
Annette M. Drowlette/Staff
Augusta Christian Schools student James Grayson, 16, gets ready for his second lesson from Jones Driver Education School.

They're bucking the national trend.

Recent statistics from the Federal Highway Administration show that the number of 16-year-olds nationwide who hold licenses has declined to less than 30 percent since 1998 --- down from almost 44 percent a decade ago.

Officials blame price spikes for insurance and gasoline, plus a variety of strict new state laws that require driver training for keeping some teens from sliding behind the driver's seat.

Locally, those same factors appear to have made little difference, though. In fact, since both Georgia and South Carolina began graduated licensing programs, which require young drivers to have a set number of hours of supervised driving experience, several driving schools say their classes are packed.

That was the case during a recent Friday afternoon at Jones Driver Education School on Columbia Road as 15-year-old Monica Rose waited for her turn behind the wheel. The Alleluia Community School student said she needed her license because her brother was about to graduate and move off to college. Some of her friends, however, have chosen to wait, she said.

"They have people who would be able to drive them so they're like, 'What's the point?' " Monica said. "They don't absolutely need it right now."

It was the same for 16-year-old Aquinas High School student Kea Midy, who couldn't wait to start driving her mother's Honda Civic, but who also had a cousin holding off on getting her license.

"She really just didn't need it," Kea said. "Her parents are able to drive her where she needs to go."

At Brock's Driver Education School on Belair Road, owner Don A. Brock said that typically, he holds one class a month, or two in the summer when teens are out of school. Since the Georgia Legislature passed the so-called Joshua's Law -- which requires 16-year-olds to take a government-approved training course and have 46 cumulative hours of supervised day and night driving -- teens have been rushing to get into the courses so they can apply for their license, Mr. Brock said.

"We have not seen a decrease at all," he said. "Actually, right now we might have a little increase because everybody wants to get their license when they're 16, and the state law requires that they have a driver's education course."

Beth Parks, the communications director for the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, said that it's likely the graduated licensing program her state instituted in the late 1990s has kept some teens from taking to the roads but that that's not necessarily a bad thing.

"When you were 15, it was a rite of passage," Ms. Parks said. "Now you have to have done all these things, and I really believe that it makes it harder. And it should be harder."

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15-to 20-years-olds, according to 2004 figures from the National Center for Health Statistics, which are the latest available. Graduated programs have been shown to reduce the number of fatal crashes involving 16-year-olds by an average of 11 percent, according to a study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

"It benefits us but it also makes the road a little safer, too," Mr. Brock said. "With the graduated license, it gives them time to get some experience."

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.

BY THE NUMBERS


Licensed U.S. 16-year-olds:


1998: 1,670,181


2006 (latest year available): 1,299,465

CRASHES


12.9: Percentage of all drivers nationwide involved in fatal crashes in 2006 between ages 15 and 20


7,463: Total of 15-to 20-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2006

Source: Federal Highway Administration

Comments (30) Add comment
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christian134
2
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christian134 04/05/08 - 07:44 am
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Uh Oh....Danger Will

Uh Oh....Danger Will Robinson..Danger...:-)

Logan1
0
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Logan1 04/05/08 - 08:48 am
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lets on about SENIOR

lets on about SENIOR CITIZENS, come on there worst drivers than teens. stop complaining.

christian134
2
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christian134 04/05/08 - 09:07 am
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Justin I will give you

Justin I will give you that....Danger Ole' Will Robinson....Danger...:-) Is that better?....:-) Actually I have a problem with some seniors just pulling out in front of you without looking one way or another...It is kinda like...Hey its me and I am coming ready or not...:-)

JohnQPublic
5
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JohnQPublic 04/05/08 - 09:09 am
0
0
No teenager should be issued

No teenager should be issued a drivers license without having successfully passed a drivers education class. Period. Stick to the topic.

longwayfromhome
0
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longwayfromhome 04/05/08 - 09:16 am
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The person writing this

The person writing this article should have checked out Josuha's law themselves, the Driver Ed instructor doesn't even know what he is talking about. The law does not say that they HAVE TO HAVE A DRIVERS EDUCATION COURSE. My son turned sixteen last year and we had to reveiw the new requirements. There are a lot of forms to fill out and guidelines but parents do not have to go through the expense of a drivers ed class.

christian134
2
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christian134 04/05/08 - 09:49 am
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Now coalminerpa try not to be

Now coalminerpa try not to be so testy after all it is a wonderful day rain and all.....Of course children need to have a course on driving but then again so should all of us periodically throughout our lives.......:-)

KSL
181380
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KSL 04/05/08 - 10:35 am
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Justin, I'm assuming you are

Justin, I'm assuming you are a teen driver and a teen poster. Here is a great hoorah for your school, or maybe the problem is on the receiving in. Check your post for grammar, spelling and context. I feel safer now that I know you are on the road behind the wheel.

dani
13
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dani 04/05/08 - 11:10 am
0
0
An ole lady was driving(?)

An ole lady was driving(?) down Monte Santo yesterday afternoon at less than 10 miles per hour. I was getting frustrated until I realized that , with any luck and if I live long enough, that could be me. So I poked along behind, gnashing my teeth all the while.

momma mia
1
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momma mia 04/05/08 - 11:46 am
0
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Hey, kathysue, you may want

Hey, kathysue, you may want to check your own grammar before calling someone out about theirs! I believe you meant to say "the problem is on the receiving END" not "receiving IN."

I am an adult drive and have had a license for 27 years now. I happen to agree with Justin that there is a problem with elderly drivers. Most of the teen drivers I know are very cautious, but I've seen many older people who just are not paying attention to what they are doing, are driving way below the speed limit, pulling out in front of people, etc. I am much more comfortable riding in the car with my teenage child driving than I am with my elderly grandmother!

KSL
181380
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KSL 04/05/08 - 12:23 pm
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momma mia, check the

momma mia, check the statistics. They don't charge teen drivers extra for no reason. Also, I do to make those kind of mistakes, but not because I don't know the difference. Care to check out the difference in my posts and Justin's? Oh, and "I am an adult drive," check your own posts.

KSL
181380
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KSL 04/05/08 - 12:36 pm
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If your teen aged driver is

If your teen aged driver is cautious, that is because you have been a good teacher. I was very much relieved when my sons could drive themselves versus riding with other teen drivers becuase I trusted my sons. Elderly drivers are like teenaged drivers. Some are good at it and others are not.

galaxygrl
1450
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galaxygrl 04/05/08 - 01:09 pm
0
0
I think the lobbyists got

I think the lobbyists got behind Justin's law and helped push it through to make more money for these driver's Ed companies because of declining revenues from DUI classes. My daughter is a high achiever academically and very involved in extra activities at school and at church. She did on-line classes and we logged her miles, but it was crazy how much Driver's Schools charge. It think it is an undue burden on poor people and forces those that can't afford it to drive without a license. I worked from the time I turned 16 and my parents would never have been able to afford $400 for a class. If we hadn't own a computer my daughter couldn't have even taken advantage of the on-line class. So maybe Driver's Ed should be back in school, it is is South Carolina!

rdpilgrim
0
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rdpilgrim 04/05/08 - 02:54 pm
0
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I think its safe to assume

I think its safe to assume kathysue is an elderly woman.

Grammar has nothing to do with driving, say something relevant.

KSL
181380
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KSL 04/05/08 - 07:46 pm
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What is your definition of

What is your definition of elderly rdpilgrim? If you read justin's comments you might question whether or not he had a good enough comprehension of the driver's manual. And you might also wonder if he will be able to earn enough money to pay for his car insurance. I really don't like being crashed into by a driver with no insurance. Your turn to say something relevant now.

KSL
181380
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KSL 04/05/08 - 07:52 pm
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By the way, rdpilgrim is a

By the way, rdpilgrim is a Greenbriar High student, or was.

rdpilgrim
0
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rdpilgrim 04/05/08 - 10:40 pm
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and how would you know i went

and how would you know i went to GreenbriEr

i think your definitely over analyzing the situation

and the reason car fatalities is the #1 cause of fatalities among young people ages 15-20 is what else are the going to die from?

KSL
181380
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KSL 04/05/08 - 11:45 pm
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What? In English please.

What? In English please. Line from a movie, in case you don't know.

KSL
181380
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KSL 04/05/08 - 11:51 pm
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I was not discussing the

I was not discussing the number one cause of fatalities among people aged 15-20. I was discussing car accidents. You are out of you league trying to argue with me. And you little stupid idiot, all I had to do was go back and read your past post to know where you went to high school. By the way, exactly what does "over analyzing" mean?

rdpilgrim
0
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rdpilgrim 04/05/08 - 11:52 pm
0
0
1. What makes you think i

1. What makes you think i attended greenbrier?

2. You are over analyzing the situation about justin's comments

3. What else are young people between the ages of 15-20 going to die from other than car crashes?

KSL
181380
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KSL 04/06/08 - 12:08 am
0
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You make me think you

You make me think you attended greenbrier. Your statements, idiot. All I am saying is that teenagers are involved in lots of accidents, hence the higher insurance rates for peple under 25. Ask your parents about that. I never said anything about fatalities. Can you read?

KSL
181380
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KSL 04/06/08 - 12:09 am
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Then again, maybe you didn't

Then again, maybe you didn't attend Greenbrier, you just root for them. Now that would be sad.

KSL
181380
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KSL 04/06/08 - 12:15 am
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Oh, durn, his parents told

Oh, durn, his parents told him to get off the computer and go to bed.

rdpilgrim
0
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rdpilgrim 04/06/08 - 12:30 am
0
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ha good one you don't even

ha good one you don't even know me, but way to be ignorant

KSL
181380
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KSL 04/06/08 - 12:33 am
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Don't know you, don't want

Don't know you, don't want to.

KSL
181380
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KSL 04/06/08 - 12:35 am
0
0
Have you figured out how I

Have you figured out how I know about the Greenbrier connection yet?

rdpilgrim
0
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rdpilgrim 04/06/08 - 12:44 am
0
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good job clicking on my user

good job clicking on my user name

and you just verified your ignorance... but who cares im through with this b/c this is getting off-topic

KSL
181380
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KSL 04/06/08 - 12:49 am
0
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Exactly how did clicking on

Exactly how did clicking on your user name verify MY ignorance? You are pathetic. I would never have told my child that. But then I would never have had to.

KSL
181380
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KSL 04/06/08 - 12:59 am
0
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Why don't we meet with your

Why don't we meet with your parents and show them this exchange of ideas? I'm willing. Do you think they would be proud to know that you are out there throwing insults out into cyperspace toward people you don't know anything about?

KSL
181380
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KSL 04/06/08 - 01:26 am
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past little pilgrim's

past little pilgrim's bedtime.

Logan1
0
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Logan1 04/06/08 - 08:06 am
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woah, kathysue your crackin

woah, kathysue your crackin me up about the grammar remarks. if you seriously look at the statistics senior citizens are the number one source of car accidents and yes alot of them are with teenagers. believe me and all my friends are very very cautious. I took jones driving school and they even mentioned senior citizens and there crazy driving ive had my license for a year and a half now and still havnt came close to a wreck because of how cautious i am. Also our insurance is so high because of the fact we are first time drivers but hey if you wanna blame it on wrecks you can. and yes i go to greenbrier also what does that matter.

p.s ghs kids can afford insurence :]

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