Earlier this week, I read with sorrow about another American teen driver who was literally in the middle of a writing a text when her car went off the road and hit a tree. Officials are not releasing the contents of the text, but they know one thing for sure — she has lost her life due to distracted driving. Today, her school will have a moment of silence for her. Was it worth her life for one more text?
It is an unthinkable tragedy that this teen’s family must now grieve her premature death. In my work as an Atlanta personal injury lawyer I spend a great deal of my time with families dealing with injury and sadly, death.
The statistics are stunning as teen drivers have a much greater likelihood of injury or death in driving. Traffic accidents lead as the cause of death for teenagers in our country and in Georgia. Teens are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal car crash than the rest of the driving population.
How can we ensure that teens are safer drivers? In Georgia, we are making a good effort to protect teen drivers and others on the road with the passage of Joshua’s Law. Several years ago, the 2005 Georgia General Assembly passed Georgia Senate Bill 226. This legislation, known as Joshua’s Law, requires teens to get educated in order to receive a Class D license to drive at the age of 16. If they do not take the educational requirements, teens must wait until they are 17 years of age to be licensed.
There are four ways to comply with Joshua’s Law. These include: Method I requiring 30 hours of classroom instruction at a Department of Driver Services (DDS) and 6 hours of driving time with an approved school, along with 40 hours of driving with a parent; Method 2 requires the same amount of classroom time as Method 1, along with completion of the Parent Teen Driving Guide ; Method 3 provides for an on-line course with a DDS approved and 6 hours of driving at an approved DDS school, along with 40 hours of parent supervised driving; and Method 4 allows for an on-line course with a DDS approved school, along with completion of the Parent Teen driving guide.
Although a learner’s permit is not required for the on-line or classroom course, teens need a learner’s permit for one year and one day in order to receive a Class D license. A learner’s permit is also required for teens to get behind the wheel for their supervised driving hours.
The Georgia Driver Education Commission (GDEC) was established with the passage of Joshua’s Law. It monitors the programs involved with teen driving education and tracks the accomplishments of the program.
The GDEC says that national research indicates that several factors make teens more vulnerable to injury or death when driving. Some of these include failing to wear seat belts, speed, drinking, distracted driving, having teen passengers in the vehicle, driving at night and other factors. Although progress has been made, more work need to be done to protect teens and others on the road.
As a Gwinnett County auto accident lawyer, I represent families and victims of serious injury due to motor vehicle accidents. Please contact my law offices to talk with me free of charge to discuss your matter.