Teens need driving courses to hit road

Claire Rives, 15, can't wait to get her driver's license.

The process for Claire and other teens to get a license in Georgia is a bit more complicated than it used to be. Joshua's Law, approved in 2005 and implemented in 2007, requires 40 hours of supervised driving, six of which must be at night, and a driver's education course for teens to drive at age 16. If they don't take the course, they can't get a Class D license until they're 17.

Claire wanted to drive at 16, so she took the class this spring and is working on her driving hours.

Ashleigh Lee, 17, a recent graduate of Evans High School, chose to wait and forgo driving at 16.

"My family is kind of tight with money, so we didn't really have the money for the classes," she said.

In addition, she had friends who drove and she didn't feel ready to drive at 16. At 17, she feels prepared. She knows the laws from getting her permit and takes shortcuts to avoid tricky spots such as Washington Road when it's congested. There are other restrictions on new Class D drivers: For the first six months, they can have only immediate family members as passengers, no friends. That's so they will pay attention to driving.

"I don't like the six-month rule," Claire said, but she understands why it's in place. "People are talking, texting."

Reach Sarah Day Owen at (706) 823-3223 or sarah.owen@augustachronicle.com.

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