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Teens, parents learn the rules of the road

PRIDE offers new drivers lessons in safety

POSTED: January 28, 2013 1:30 a.m.

There are a lot of free activities parents and teens can do together for two hours.

But how many of those activities have the potential to save a life?

Parents Reducing Injuries and Driver Error is a free driver safety course and takes only two hours to complete.

The course is offered throughout the year at 4 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of every month. Classes are held at the Lumpkin County YMCA, 365 Riley Road, Dahlonega.

Rather than a technical hands-on-the-wheel course, this course addresses driver attitude, knowledge and behavior.

Both parents and teens take the course together. It promises to help teen drivers learn about vehicle safety and what new drivers should do during supervised practice driving time. Parents also benefit from being sure they, too, know the rules of the roads.

Cpl. Jonathan Fitzpatrick, Teen PRIDE Instructor with the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office, said parents think the course is "awesome."

"So many laws have changed," Fitzpatrick said. "Parents are really not as informed as they would like to be. Plus you’ve got the possibility of (auto insurance) discounts, so parents are loving that even more."

Many insurance companies offer a discount on a teen’s insurance policy after completing the course. Parents should contact their provider to see if the discount would be offered under their plan.

Beverly Murphy took the course Tuesday afternoon with her husband and daughter.

She said she learned a lot about driving laws that she didn’t know before taking the course.

She assumed that a teen driver could drive after midnight so long as they were driving home from work.

"I always thought there was an exception for kids who worked past midnight," Murphy said. "There is no exception."

She said there were other rules covered in the class that she’d been misinformed about, too.

"A lot of times people get so busy and they think they know the rules," Murphy said. "They’re listening to their kids or even other parents who don’t have the information."

From a safety standpoint, she said the course helped to open her daughter’s eyes to the dangers of texting and driving.

Murphy said teens often feel invincible and the word "death" doesn’t always register. But seeing a video of a young man who was paralysed after texting and driving helps young drivers understand that some decisions have consequences that last a lifetime.

Seventeen-year-old Lacey Hallberg said she had to take the course after getting into a car accident.

Hallberg said she thought all of her peers could benefit from taking the course. The lesson that stood out the most to her was how quickly an accident can happen and how devastating it can be when it does.

In the class, they talked about children who had lost their lives in car accidents.

"It can be because of anything, drunk driving, texting," Hallberg said. "You could hit a kid. It just opens your eyes up."

Parents are required to attend with their children, which Fitzpatrick said, just ensures everyone in the family is aware of the rules. Plus, he said, parents and teens get the opportunity to bond and discuss what they’ve learned.

"It brings the parents back into the realm so that they’re aware of what to expect while they’re out driving," Fitzpatrick said.


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