Teens learn the rules of the road - KMSP-TV

Teens learn the rules of the road

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COBB COUNTY, Ga. -

ATLANTA, Ga.--It's the busiest time of year for driving instructors in Atlanta. Thousands of teenagers are trading in their chemistry and biology books, and learning how to drive during their summer break.

Local driving instructors put their life on the line and put a lot of trust into the new drivers they're teaching. Nathan's Driving School wants to remind you to take it easy, give them space and be patient when you see a student driver behind the wheel.

"People just don't use their signals. You would think it was a new invention, but they've been around since the 1950's," Nathan's Driving Instructor Dan Reilly says.

Dan has just about seen it all on the streets of Atlanta. From the good stories, "With the new teenagers, it's really fun with them because everything is new to them. Sometimes they'll say, 'Oh wow, this is my first stop sign' or 'Wow this is my first traffic light,' or 'This is the first time I've ever made a left turn.'"

Then there are the not so good stories from Dan, "People cutting you off is probably the biggest thing. It's like they want to show how good they are to this new novice driver out here on the road."

Dan has also had a few close calls in between the good and bad times. "Most people don't realize that the first instinct for a new driver is to hit the brakes and people will tailgate us. They will just get right on our bumper and even though it says student driver in the back, they will get right on your bumper," Dan explains.

Dan says some students get on the road, only to panic. "We've had students just get on the highway and just basically stop the car because they got so nervous all of a sudden on the highway."

While the trick as an instructor is remaining calm, Dan says some days you can't help but laugh. "I had one student one time where he would pull into traffic very slowly and we'd come around the corner and I'd say, 'You have to get into the flow of traffic.' So I said to him one day, 'Give it some gas' and he pulled right into the gas station," Dan laughs.

Mom and dad, remember...you're always setting an example, good or bad. "The kids do love to rat our their parents on the things that they see that their parents don't do and sometimes those stories are fun to listen to with the young folks," says Dan.

Over the years, laws and requirements for new drivers have continued to grow tougher and tougher, hopefully saving lives.

"Traffic accidents are the number one killer of teenagers and it's such a tragedy when we read about or hear about a kid dying for no reason at all," adds Nathan Lewit, the President of Nathan's Driving School.

Joshua's Law was named after a Joshua Brown, a teen driver who died in 2003. His parents helped to require new drivers to complete a driver education class approved by the Department of Driver Services. There must be a total of 40 hours of supervised driving, at least 6 hours at night. If the class is done online, parents must keep a log, approving those 40 hours.

There are strict rules once teenagers earn their license. Drivers ages 16 to 18 are not allowed to be behind the wheel between Midnight and 5 A.M., starting July 1st, no exceptions to that law are allowed. There are also passenger restrictions limiting how many people can be in the car with a teen driver

Aside from new drivers, Nathan's also works with drivers with disabilities, or people recovering from strokes or heart attacks, that are easing back onto the road.

Another popular class is the Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction Program-- which is commonly known as the mandatory DUI school. Starting July 1st, to get your license back, drivers must finish that DUI class within 120 days of the conviction, or risk not getting it back at all. The law also changed and now punishes adults caught giving alcohol to minors with the same, strict requirements as a DUI.

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