A critical need in our state’s driver education and driver training programs today is a strengthening of the teacher selection, preparation, certification process, performance of the teacher, and structured learning experiences. The best way to search for ways to improve the instructional program is to have everything under one agency.
During the Southeast Region ADTSEA Conference, it was learned that all of the above is under one agency in Georgia and that the standards for teacher preparation and teaching courses are also same for high school and commercial school. In South Carolina the above is done by both the Department of Education and the Department of Motor Vehicles. The standards and regulations are also different in South Carolina.
A person can prepare to become a teacher in commercial school by taking 40 hours of instruction by a teacher without a college degree; to prepare to teach in high school a person needs a degree and 12 hours credit in driver and traffic safety education. A person can teach the full eight hours of commercial classroom driver education in a one day setting; to teach the full 30 hours of high school classroom driver education, it would have to be in a day’s hour or hour and half classroom sitting until the 30 hours are done. High school and commercial school both have to teach six hours of behind-the-wheel instruction, but there is no curriculum guide or mandate of what is to be taught. The Department of Education recently allowed driver education to be dropped if local school officials wanted it to be so (used to have a mandate that driver education had to be offered in each high school). All driving educators in high school or commercial school is certified by the SC Department of Motor Vehicles.
Perhaps a committee ought to be set up to study this further. It would be good to have a safety colleague or two from SCDTSEA to also be on such a committee. Maybe even take a survey of what other states are doing and what is working the best.
The desire is to see attempts for better quality teacher preparation and teaching measures for everyone involved in teacher driver and traffic safety education. More resources are needed to provide better standardization and supervision. One agency to be responsible for this tremendous task seems to be part of the answer.
Thank you for your consideration to improve the above situations. Please let us know of any attempts to this endeavor.
The desire is to share additional information to ban texting while driving. We shared earlier that Georgia’s texting law includes a $150 fine and 1 driving record point penalty. We feel more information about the Georgia’s law can be helpful.
According to national studies, approximately 22 percent of all crashes and 16 percent of all fatal crashes were caused by some form of distraction occurring within three seconds of the crash. A Georgia survey was given to drivers. Thirty-seven percent of drivers admitted to texting while driving.
Georgia also knew that studies compare the distraction caused by cell phones use to the slower reaction times of an impaired driver, and that the number one responsibility behind the wheel is paying attention to the roadway.
Effective July 1, 2010, Georgia law states that no person who is 18 years of age or who has a license shall operate a motor vehicle on any public road or highway of this state while using a wireless telecommunications device. Under this law drivers cannot write, send, or read a text message, email, or use the internet on any wireless device while driving. This includes texting at red lights or turn lanes. The rare exceptions are reserved for reporting crimes, accidents and emergencies. Prohibited behavior and texting during a crash would double the fine.
With distracted driving now playing a part in 80 percent of all car crashes, according to a recent Virginia Tech study, and responsible for some 5,500 automotive fatalities annually, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the problem of mobile phone use for texting and talking behind the wheel has become and epidemic.
Distracted driving comes in various forms, such as cell phone use, texting while driving, eating, drinking, talking with passengers, as well as using in-vehicle technologies and portable electronic devices. Any non-driving activity a person engages in that has the potential to distract him or her from the primary task of driving and increases the risk of crashing is a distraction. There are three main types of distraction:
Visual – taking your eyes off the road
Manual – taking your hands off the wheel
Cognitive – taking your mind off what you are doing.
While all distractions can endanger drivers’ safety, texting is the most alarming because it involves all three types of distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for up to 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field!
A new On Your Side survey by Nationwide showed that eight in 10 drivers support some type of cell phone usage restriction. More findings to consider follows: Distraction from cell phone use while driving (hand held or hands free) extends a driver’s reaction as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent (University of Utah). The No. 1 source of driver inattention is use of a wireless device (Virginia TEch/NHTSA). Drivers that use cell phones are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves (NHTSA, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent (Carnegie Mellon).
May some of the information within help you to approve the House’s texting bill that you are considering. A good law with tough enforcement can help to reduce deadly distracted driving behavior. It has been said that personal liberty ends where public safety begins.