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Parenting the Driving Experience

Your teen has reached an important milestone; a LEARNER’S PERMIT. It is our hope that acquiring mature driving skills and judgment will be a rewarding experience for you and your teenager. With your involvement, it can also be a safe experience. This 40-hour parent/teen driving guide provides suggestions for in-car lessons to help you assist your teen in making this step to adulthood more successful for both of you.

How do you teach a 16-year-old not to be a 16-year-old behind the wheel of an automobile? Unfortunately, there is no magic formula to prepare your teenager for the responsibilities of driving. Driver education at its best is a team effort involving schools, communities, students, and families.

Cars do not crash; people crash them.In 2011, there were 159 roadway fatalities in Georgia among persons ages 15–20. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death of teens in the United States (based on the latest mortality data currently available from the National Center for Health Statistics). In 2011, 2,650 16 to 19 year old drivers were killed and 292,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes nationally.

The Teenage & Adult Driver Responsibility Act (TADRA) was established in Georgia by a collaborative effort of highway safety advocates, legislators, law enforcement officials, educators, businesses and media in the wake of a high number of fatal vehicle crashes involving young, inexperienced drivers. TADRA involves an intense, three-step education process that allows the young driver to gain more experience behind the wheel. Additionally, it also requires that prior to the issuance of a Class D license you must have completed a cumulative total of at least forty (40) hours of other supervised driving experience, including at least six (6) hours at night.

All 16-year-olds applying for a Class D driver’s license must complete an approved driver education course and complete a total of 40 hours of supervised driving, 6 hours of which must be at night, with a parent or guardian’s sworn verification that these requirements have been met. Any Georgia resident who has not completed an approved driver education course must be at least 17 years old to be eligible for a Class D driver’s license and he or she must have completed a total of at least 40 hours of supervised driving, including at least 6 hours at night. The same verification in writing by a parent or guardian is required. This manual is designed to help you achieve the required driving experience to qualify for a Class D driver’s license.

The ability to move a car skillfully is not the same thing as the ability to drive safely. Steering the vehicle is a relatively simple skill that most people can master in a short period of time. Driving is a complex task requiring mastery of various performance skills. It requires processing and accurately evaluating risk in the driving environment, developing appropriate responses to minimize risk, and gaining experience to predict what action others may take.

This technical assistance guide provides you with a systematic approach to guide your teen towards remaining collision-free in both low- and high-risk driving environments. The suggested lessons in this guide follow a sequential learning pattern that progresses from the parking lot to neighborhoods, to light traffic, to rural highways, to expressways and then to city driving. Each lesson provides you with an estimated amount of time the teen will need to achieve mastery; however, because teens have different abilities and learning styles you need to spend as much time as necessary to allow your teen to master the skills before moving on to the next lesson. Research shows that in order for young drivers to remain collision-free, parents must model safe driving behaviors and invest in meaningful guided practice over a long period of time to turn these skills into good driving habits!

If neither parent has a valid driver’s license, a friend or relative can conduct the guided practice sessions. Because parents and guardians play such a significant role in the development of safe driving habits, parents should remain involved in the learning process as observers in the car during the guided practice sessions. Knowing your teen is a skilled, safety-conscious driver will give you peace of mind in the years to come.

In addition to sharpening your driving skills, it is our hope the guided practice sessions presented in this guide will provide your teen with a solid foundation to develop safe, collision-free driving habits that will last a lifetime.

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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