In 2003, 17-year-old Joshua Brown was driving on wet pavement when his car hydroplaned and crashed. Nine days later, the teen died in a Georgia hospital. In response to the tragedy, Brown’s parents lobbied the Georgia General Assembly to impose stricter requirements on teen drivers.
In 2005, state legislators did just that when they passed Joshua’s law. In effect since January 1, 2017, Joshua’s law requires most 16- and 17-year-old drivers to complete a driver’s education program and to have 40 hours of supervised driving experience before they can apply for a full driver’s license.
Three steps to receiving a full driver’s license
In Georgia, teens may apply for a learner’s permit when they turn 15. To drive legally with a learner’s permit, a teen must have a responsible adult in the passenger seat. After having the learner’s permit for at least a year and a day, teens may apply for an intermediate license.
To receive an intermediate license, teens must first pass an on-road driving test. Then, when they have the license, 16- and 17-year-olds must comply with the following rules:
- Do not drive between midnight and 5 a.m.
- Have only immediate family members as passengers during the first six months
- Have no more than one minor as a passenger during the second six months
- Have no more than three minor passengers after the second six months
- Complete a state-approved driver’s education program
- Log 40 hours of supervised driving, with at least six hours in nighttime driving conditions
Finally, when teens turn 18, they may apply for a full driver’s license, provided they have not had a serious driving infraction during the previous year.
A safety-centric approach to teen driving
Joshua’s Law gives teen drivers both theoretical and practical knowledge of road safety. During the required supervised driving, teens also have an opportunity to experience a variety of driving conditions and situations. This encourages young drivers to master basic driving skills before they receive their full licenses.
Ultimately, Georgia’s safety-centric approach to teen driving is a key part of preventing the sort of tragedy that forever changed the lives of Joshua Brown’s parents.