Free Classes to Help Save Teen Drivers

11:19 PM, Aug 25, 2010   |    comments
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SANDY SPRINGS, GA - Getting behind the wheel these days is pretty scary for many of Georgia's 6.83-million licensed drivers.

But it can be even more frightening for the 8% who're teenagers, especially at the beginning of their driving experience.

"Um, nervous, excited and a little bit worried, but I think I'll be fine," says 14-year-old Luke Bryant.

He's probably not as nervous as his parents, Jon and Pat.

Luke and his 15-year-old brother, Garrett, are why the Bryant family drove from Cherokee County to Sandy Springs on Wednesday evening.

"It's a new experience for us; it's one of the things that we're the most tense about as parents of all the things we've encountered," says father Jon Bryant.

Making sure their sons get a good start is why the Bryants and several other parents brought their teens to a special driving class at the Sandy Springs Police Department.

Similar classes are offered all over the state thanks to the University of Georgia's Traffic Injury Prevention Institute and the Governor's Office of Highway Safety.

Teens and parents learn about Georgia's driving laws, especially the importance of seat belts, and sign a compact about how they will work together to make sure their teen develops good and safe driving habits.

One of the instructors, who runs her own private driving school, says one of the toughest hurdles for new teen drivers is when they encounter rude and aggressive experienced drivers during their on the road training.

"It's embarrassing for them," says Anita Himburg of the Johns Creek Driving School.

"I've had people make obscene gestures, cut them off with motorcycles, cut them off on the right hand in front of them, then make a left hand turn. I had one young man say, "I don't think I can do this'," she says.

"People need to give them a break," she adds.

The classes, which are free, are called PRIDE for Parents Reducing Injury and Driver Error.

To find one in your area, go to the website RideSafeGeorgia.Org

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