How Safe is Safe Enough?
Joshua's Law and Teen Drivers Education
I would like to pose a few questions to you, to get you thinking and hopefully leave you with a desire to help make a difference.
1, First question, do you have or have you ever been a teenage driver?
2. Second question, since the inception of "Joshua's Law" and the texting and driving laws, how have the statistics of teenage driver deaths changed?
3. Third question, are the current laws enough?
Joshua Robert Brown, was an average all-American teenage boy. He enjoyed hanging out with his friends, he was close to his family, he went to his high school prom, he was making plans for his senior graduation, and was then heading to Boston to attend music school. Born and raised in Cartersville, GA, Joshua was the quarterback for the Cartersville Canes.
Tragically, July 1, 2003, Joshua's car hydroplaned on a rain slickened road and crashed into a tree. Nine days later, Joshua succumbed to the injuries sustained in the accident, and lost the fight for his life.
Devastated, his parents blamed Joshua's lack of driving experience for his accident.
As published on the website, Joshuabrownfoundation.org, C. Alan Brown, Joshua's dad, said that when he was a young child, Joshua told him that "someday his name would be known worldwide." Mr. Brown stated that the family thought he was referring to his music. Mr. Brown, a native to Calhoun GA and having a background in politics, lobbied GA lawmakers emphatically to impose tougher sanctions for teenage driving; making drivers education accessible to ALL teen drivers and giving some control of teen driver education to the parents. In 2005, "Joshua's Law" was adopted by the GA General Assembly, and January 1, 2007, it was officially a GA law.
Joshua's law states that all 16-year-olds applying for a Class D driver's license must complete an approved driver education course in both public and private schools AND complete a total of 40 hours of supervised driving, 6 hours of which must be at night. The additional 40 hours must be supervised and documented by a parent or legal guardian.
According to the GA Department of Driver Services, in 2005 (2 years after Joshua's death), 136 drivers aged 15-20 were killed as a result of a crash in GA. In 2008 (one year after Joshua's Law was passed in GA), a staggering 3,500 drivers aged 15-20 were killed nationwide. To date, motor vehicle crashes are ranked as the leading cause of death in 15-20 year olds.
I'm sure my fellow public safety personnel who work in emergency medical services can attest, sadly enough, when we encounter crash sites, all to often it is young drivers involved. While texting and driving laws are not specifically targeted to teen drivers, texting and driving is also attributed to countless fatal accidents involving young drivers.
There are many valuable websites out there. If you have a teenage driver, plan to have one, or just know one, educate yourself. Educate your young drivers. Because, as good as these current teen driving laws are, one still has to question, are they enough?