What is Joshua’s Law? A Guide For The Parents of Teen Drivers in Georgia
Joshua’s Law was passed by Georgia’s General Assembly in 2005. The full effect of the law was enacted on January 1, 2007. Since then, the number of teen fatalities in Georgia has decreased by nearly 60%. This calculates to over 180 teenage lives saved every year.
The focus of this blog is the elements if Joshua’s Law to guide parents through the interesting years of their teen drivers.
Teenagers behind the wheel; the right of passage for the teen becomes the bane of parenting.
Joshua’s Law targets teens ages 16 through 18. The teenagers in Georgia are allowed the time to experience real-road hazards and situations and the time to learn how to adjust their behavior.
The curriculum is teen-centric; it is taught in a method that makes it easy for a teen to learn without realizing they are learning. Experience and behavior adjustments will reduce the effects of inexperience, distracted driving, friends in the car and speeding.
As always, teenage behavior begins with the parents, the first point of reference. It is the responsibility of the parents to set good examples when behind the wheel in the years well prior to their child coming of age for a driver’s permit. There should be no hands-on calls from cell phones—certainly no texting, speed limits should be obeyed, seat belts should be fastened, and calm should prevail.
The driving habits of the parents set the tone for the habits of the teenager. If your rules are not followed and you snag the keys from your teen, they will understand why. There will not like it, but they will understand it.
All the above is the premise of Joshua’s Law.
The 16- and 17-Year-Olds
Beginning in 2021, Joshua’s Law was expanded to include 17-year-olds. Before receiving a non-restricted license, all 16- and 17-year-old drivers must:
- possess a valid instructional permit for more than 1 year
- complete a 30-hour certified driver’s education course
- complete 40 hours of cumulative driving time, at least 6 hours of which must be at night
- pass a road test with a score of at least 75%
- have a parent or guardian present
There are many choices for a driver’s education program, and the class held in the traditional classroom setting is recommended for teens. However, depending on the schedules within a family and life, there are classes via Zoom and online.
The 18-Year-Olds Obtaining a Class D License
The requirements for 18-year-olds are less restrictive. The over-one-year rule for the instructional permit does not apply. An 18-year-old can obtain a permit and a Class D license on the same day.
Valid registration and insurance card must be presented for the vehicle used for the road test. However, an 18-year-old will be subjected to the following conditions under the Class D license:
- no driving between the hours of midnight and 5:00 am—no exceptions
- the allowed passengers are immediate family members during the first 6 months
- during the second 6 months, other passengers can ride in the car, but only one passenger can be under 21
- after the first 12 months, up to three passengers under 21 can ride in the car
- during the last 12 months, there cannot be any major traffic violations on a driving record
Because of Georgia’s proactive measures in providing teen-centric education and experiencing real-world traffic situations, thirteen other states have passed similar laws. When considering the circumstances of Joshua’s accident, all cars manufactured since 2011 have electronic stability control systems.
The unfortunate circumstances of inexperience and stability control that led to Joshua’s accident have been mitigated by the programs and systems in place today.
The death of Joshua Brown has not been in vain.