Approximately 300 additional Effingham County high school students will now have the opportunity to take a free, state-approved driver education course thanks to state grants recently awarded to both Effingham County and South Effingham high schools.
The two grants provided $274,400 to the school system and are being used to fund the salaries for two additional driver education instructors and to purchase two new vans. Driving simulators are being ordered for each school and should be in place by January. The grant money may be used to purchase textbooks.
“The district has historically had a long commitment to providing driver’s education training to students,” said Greg Arnsdorff, assistant superintendent of instruction and technology. “However, like many programs, we sometimes have a limited capacity to provide for as many seats as a program like driver’s ed may demand.
“The announcement of the grant opportunity allowed us to move forward in committing to serve more students with the hope of recouping some of our costs. The result is a win for the nearly 300 students.”
New legislation called Joshua’s Law, effective Jan. 1, requires that 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, six 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 driver’s license and must also complete the same amount of supervised driving.
“Driver’s ed is not a requirement of the curriculum but an elective provided by the district,” Arnsdorff added. “Our program is configured to optimize the number of students who receive the core driver’s education training. Teachers provide 30 hours of classroom instruction.
“While some supervised driving experience is provided too, our approved program requires parents to conduct and certify the required six hours behind the wheel time for students,” he said. “Through this model we can serve 10 more classes of driver’s education this year. We’ll also be looking to integrate the virtual instruction using a driving simulator to increase student options to access driver training.”
The grants are provided by the Georgia Driver’s Education Commission.
Arnsdorff thanked Judith Shuman and Ronni Edenfield, instructional supervisors at ECHS and SEHS, for their work in a successful proposal and to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and the Commission in meeting the need to provide Effingham’s youth the knowledge to make better decisions on the road.
“We need to do everything we can to keep our young driver’s safe,” Gov. Sonny Perdue said. “These grants help make driver education more accessible and affordable for Georgians that are learning how to drive.”
or more information about the laws concerning teen drivers, go to the Driver Education Commission Web site at http://www.gateendrivereducation.dds.ga.