Joshua’s Law applied to today’s teenagers

How a law seen as a nuisance by teenagers can save lives.

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Photo used with permission from Danielle Scott.

Every day, an average of over 2,000 teens die on the road each year according to CDC statistics. Joshua’s Law is a series of requirements that are intended to make teen drivers safer.

Alyssa Freyman, Associate Editor

Many students today find it difficult to obtain a Class D driver’s license in Georgia, and they wonder why the process isn’t simpler. The answer lies in Joshua’s Law.

It all started in 2003. A teenager named Joshua Brown was a senior at Crown Point High School. While driving on the highway on a rainy day, he hydroplaned and crashed into a tree. On July 9, he died at the age of 17 after sustaining injuries from the car crash. His parents, Alan and LuGina, blamed the accident on Joshua’s inexperience. They believed that they hadn’t spent enough time with Joshua in the car, so he wasn’t prepared for the accident. From then on, Alan and LuGina tried to convince the Georgia Legislature to pass a law for driving safety. Preston Smith, a Georgia State Senator at the time, had introduced Senate Bill 226, also known as Joshua’s Law.

This law became active on January 1, 2007, and comes with a list of requirements a teenager must complete to get a Class D License. A teenager may apply for a Learner’s Permit at the age of 15 and must have it for a year and a day before taking the test for a Class D License. Teenagers as old as 16 year olds must take 30 hours worth of a driver’s education course to get a Class D License. Once a teenager has turned 17, they are not required to take a driving education course, although it can help reduce insurance premiums. A parent or adult with a driver’s license must be in the car with the teenager, no matter the age, for 40 hours, 6 of those hours being at night. When taking the road skills test, teenagers must pass with a minimum score of 75%.

When a person has received their Class D license, they are not allowed to drive between midnight and 5:00 am. Only immediate family members are allowed to be in the car with the teenager for the first six months. Once they have reached six months, they can have one other person in the car that is not immediate family. After twelve months, three people that are not immediate family members can be in the car.

Drive Smart, a drivers education program, says that Joshua’s Law has been adopted by 13 other states, and “teen driver fatalities have decreased by 60%”.

Alan and LuGina Brown are still at work, continuing to draft laws that will help new teenage drivers have more experience and reduce fatalities. Over the course of one year, there are approximately 2,000 teens die behind the wheel. Although many students complain about its requirements, Joshua’s Law could save your life.