Grants made to the high school driver’s education programs are helping provide textbooks and more hands on experience for student drivers.
Kim Morgan, the classroom driver’s education teacher at South Effingham High School, said the grant will help in many areas, including the purchase of simulators for additional hands-on experience, upkeep, the cost of a second vehicle and support for a third driver’s education instructor.
“Before, we serviced between 200 and 225 students in driver’s ed,” Morgan said. “We are now able to service 100 to 125 more students.”
Morgan said since Joshua’s Law took effect, there are more students who want to take the class, and the students are younger than those who took the class before the law took effect.
“This used to be a junior/senior class; now it’s primarily a sophomore class,” she said.
Morgan said under the current law, in order for a student to be eligible for a license at 16 he or she must complete a driver’s education class, along with driving time.
She said because of time constraints, students in the class must complete driving time with a parent. Parents have 13 checklists of skills they are required to cover with their child, and the parent must log 40 hours of the student driving.
“It’s a lengthy process,” Morgan said. “It’s trying to ensure that we have safer young drivers.”
Morgan said the requirements under Joshua’s Law are only applicable for students who want to get a license at 16. At age 17, the class and logged driving time are not required.
She said it’s good for the students who have a wide variety of experience when they enter the class.
“The more they practice, the better they’ll be,” Morgan said.
Morgan said approximately four students are taken out driving at a time, every day if possible. Students do not drive in inclement weather.
Jake Mobley, a teacher at SEHS, took Kyle Parish and Erin Pack out for driving time. The students checked the car before getting in a buckling up. Parish slowly pulled out of the parking lot. Mobley spoke softly complimenting and giving suggestions as the two students took turns driving.
Both Parish and Pack said they are glad to get the experience the class offers.
Mobley said riding with students can be adventuresome.
“Some days are better than others,” he said. “You never know what you’re going to get.”
He said he uses positives to help guide students as they are driving by telling them what they are doing well and explaining areas they should work on.
He said he knows some students are nervous and he doesn’t want to worsen that while they are driving.
“Safety is first,” Mobley said.