How Safe Is Safe Enough? Addressing Johua's Law
Joshua's Law and Teen Drivers Education
Consider, if you will, a young driver, having little experience; who is to say that a blanket age is the determinate in which a young person has the maturity to safely operate a vehicle on all too crowded roadways? 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 Purple Hurricanes. He had a bright and promising future ahead of him.
Tragically, July 9, 2003, Joshua's car hydroplaned on a rain slickened road and crashed into a tree, while driving only around 40 miles per hour. 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. When Joshua's Law was voted on before the 2005 Georgia General Assembly, it was passed with an impressive eighty-seven percent, with support from both the house and the senate.
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.
It is with almost certainty, that public safety personnel who work in emergency medical services can attest, sadly enough, when they 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. Educate yourself on the driving laws for young people. But most of all, lead by example, obey the traffic laws, and encourage safe and responsible driving behaviors. According to an article on Minlaw.com relating to fatal accidents involving teen drivers, "However, teen crash fatalities in Georgia area still high. In 2007, there were 300 fatalities involving young drivers in Georgia. Of these fatalities, 120 were teen drivers themselves." (Fatal). Because, at the end of the day, one can only question, as good as these current teen driving laws are, one still has to question, are they enough?
“Fatal Auto Accidents Involving Teen Drivers in Georgia.” MLN Law, Atlanta Attorneys, www.mlnlaw.com/articles/fatal-auto-accidents-involving-teen-drivers-in-georgia/.