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Posted: October 21, 2009 11:16 a.m.

NCSO Traffic Unit provides free driving safety class for parents and teens

Space is limited

Changes in Joshua's Law for teen drivers put parents squarely in the passenger's seat. It requires that anyone who applies for a permanent driver's license must have a parent, legal guardian or responsible adult sign a verification form affirming that the candidate has completed 40 hours (with six hours at night) of supervised driving experience, if the candidate has successfully completed an approved driver education course.

Most parents don't feel prepared, or may not know what they need to do, to supervise a new teen driver behind the wheel. But parental involvement is key to reducing teen crashes and fatalities.

Teens want the practice time so they can get their license, but need to know how to communicate with their nervous parents.

There is a FREE course designed to fill this void. The Georgia Traffic Injury Prevention Institute (GTIPI) at The University of Georgia is bringing P.R.I.D.E.-Parents Reducing Injuries and Driver Error-to help Newton County parents prepare their 14, 15 and 16-year-olds to drive.

"P.R.I.D.E. is an excellent orientation to the driver education process and teen driving laws. It's designed to help young people become better decision makers, especially as new drivers," says Frankie Jones, GTIPI's Director. It will help parents and their new teen drivers learn what they need to do during those 40 hours of driving time," said Jones. "Our ultimate goal is to reduce risk-taking behavior and youth related car crashes."

GTIPI is working with Sheriff Ezell Brown and the Newton County Sheriff's Office to offer the free, two-hour P.R.I.D.E. seminar, a standardized UGA course offered statewide. GTIPI is funded by a grant from the Governor's Office of Highway Safety.

"Newton County is a (suburban/metro/rural) area, which offers unique driving situations and problems for first-time drivers," Sgt. Randy Downs said.

The Georgia Teens Ride with P.R.I.D.E. classes will complement the Newton County driver education program and will:

Help parents and guardians become more aware of their own driving behaviors,
Teach parents and guardians how to help their teens become safe drivers,
Help parents, guardians and teens learn what they need to do during the supervised practice driving time
Alter attitudes and driving behaviors of novice teen drivers.

The course will be offered Nov. 14 at Eastside High School. The class will begin at 9 a.m. sharp. A teen and at least one parent or guardian must register to attend. Call the Newton County Sheriff's Office at (678) 625-1404 or email rdowns@newtonsheriffga.org and request a registration form. Or, stop by the Newton County Sheriff's Office and pick up a form.

Note: The class size is limited to fifteen students. Please register as soon as possible. Deadline for registration is Nov. 4.


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