Proposal to Have Driver Education and Driver Training Under One Agency

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.

Joe Sabbadino

Addendum to SC Needs a Tough Texting Law

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.

May this additional information be helpful to you. You can also go to

Joe Sabbadino

Consider Texting Information To Pass Texting Bill

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.

Joe Sabbadino

Letter from the President

Dear Driver’s Training Colleague,

I would like to invite you to look over our website and also to encourage you to join our association. I remember going to the conference in the 90’s and thinking about my role in making the roads safer for all of us, and I realized that I could help by becoming a small part in this wonderful association. I will tell you that we are a small association and we need to increase our numbers not to just say we have a lot of members, but to be able to share more ideas between the members of the association so that we can have a better impact on improving safety on our roadways.

If you have any ideas please contact me at or 803-364-2134.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Best wishes,

David E Smith
President, SCDTSEA

South Carolina Graduated Licensing (GDL)

We propose that the GDL law be expanded to require all teenagers (17-19) to successfully complete a certified Traffic Safety Education course before being eligible to apply for a SC driver license, since there seems to be major oppositions in changing the law to require Driver Education for teenagers 17 years of age.

Any certified Traffic Safety Education now has it those teenagers before 17 can get a restricted license. They do this by taking Driver Ed. or driver training. There is no assurance that 17-19 year-olds take a safety course before being licensed.

Any safety education before getting a driver’s license is better than none! Such education could involve controlling the speed and direction of the motor vehicle according to the requirements of the roadway; interacting safely and efficiently with other highway users in routine and difficult highway traffic conditions; controlling the vehicle properly in critical emergency situations caused by driver error, loss of traction, or vehicle failure; coping with highway crashes if directly involved or one of the first to come upon the scene; considering the requirements of physical, mental, and emotional fitness for operating a motor vehicle and refraining from driving when operator fitness is inadequate for safe driving; etc.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration spoke that such safety education “seeks to develop safe and efficient drivers who understand the essential facets of evolving traffic safety programs and who participate in the traffic environment in a manner that enhances the effectiveness of such programs.” Driving constitutes the greatest hazard to survival through which American youth must pass successfully to reach adulthood.

Consider since we invaded Iraq in 2003, we lost more than 4,300 soldiers, and this is totally unacceptable. Yet during that same period more than 40,000 teens age 15-19 have been killed in motor vehicle crashes. This is not simply statistics, but represents our nation’s DEAD KIDS. We say that 4,300 dead soldiers are not acceptable, but are we saying 40,000 dead teens are okay? If not, please do what you can to promote driver and traffic safety education for all of our South Carolina teenagers!

Throughout the nation crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers. In fact, teenagers are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as other drivers (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).

Then Governor Jimmy Carter was quoted to say “it is my view that efforts in highway safety matters should be multiplied, particularly with regard to education. Driver education in the public schools is an important element of our educational system, and it is through safety education that we can insure that we have highways free of unnecessary dangers” (Traffic Safety Education, October 7, 1976).

Insuring that teenagers take driver ed. or traffic safety before getting a driver’s license is an edge they need to help them drive and survive. May you make it so.

Joe Sabbadino

Vehicles Also Have Black Boxes

Crash information is provided by black boxes in planes — and also in cars!

Nothing is black and white about the black boxes.

Vehicle manufacturers started installing them in the mid-1970s to collect data to help manufacturers make vehicles safer. However, the purpose changed in 1999 when General Motors introduced a recorder that captured information about vehicle speed, RPMs, throttle position and braking to help for investigation purposes (Tim Evans, The Indianapolis Star, May 25, 2014).

It is also called EDR — “event data recorder” that gives information both before and after a crash. EDRs are now built into more than 90 percent of new cars, and the government is considering making them mandatory (Martin Kaste, All Tech Considered, March 20, 2013).

Would you like the information from your vehicle’s black box to be used against you in insurance investigations, or lawsuits, or even for criminal purposes? It is used in 70 percent of criminal prosecutions in Marion County in Indiana.

Marion County Deputy Prosecutor Tom Hirschauer says that the data “tells us exactly what the vehicle was doing at the exact moment of impact, and in the seconds just prior” (The Indianapolis Star, May 25, 2014).

Where is the black box? The data recorder could be installed in the car’s airbag. It could also be a number of electrical components that store data following a crash. If used in court, it is the strongest witness regarding what happened to cause a crash.

There is much concern regarding guidelines and rules for black boxes. Some pertinent questions could include:

  1. Should car buyers be informed of the black box?
  2. Should car buyers have the opportunity to opt out of black box use?
  3. Should black box accident information be personal or public?
  4. Should black box accident information be used only for scientific improvement of vehicle safety?
  5. Can police use the black box accident information to determine fault?
  6. Can lawyers obtain the black box accident information for lawsuits?
  7. Can insurance companies get/use the black box accident information to give discounts, raise rates or cancel policies?

We used to say that nothing improves one’s driving like having a police car following you. We now can say that nothing improves one’s driving like knowing that your vehicle’s black box is ready to record all the facts that may be used against you if a crash occurs.

Joe Sabbadino

Texting Law is Needed

Safe driving is no accident. It is because of responsible parents and teens, driver education/training, DMV licensing, good laws, and better law enforcement. And all of the above work for safety and help keep motorists from being recalled by their Maker.

Safety researchers say 80 percent of vehicle crashes are attributed to distractions. Such distractions are responsible for some 5,500 automobile fatalities annually, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the problem of mobile phone use and texting and talking behind the wheel has become epidemic.

Practically all driver safety specialists agree texting is the major distraction causing crashes. The three main types of distractions are visual, taking your eyes off the road; manual, taking your hands off the wheel; and cognitive, taking your mind off what you are doing. While all distractions can endanger safety, texting is the most alarming because it involves all three types of distractions.

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 a football field!

Most lawmakers agree “in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14; 24:6). May they listen to safety professionals and pass laws for better safety.

The June 2012 release by the Governors Highway Safety Association shows that many state lawmakers are listening. It was mentioned that 39 states, D.C., Guam and the Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers. A texting bill is needed in South Carolina to build traffic bridges for young people (and others) to keep their blood off the highway.

A problem to overcome is distinguishing the difference between personal liberty and public safety. A person may feel he has the liberty to drive into an oncoming lane and crash, but we have laws to hinder such unsafe driving.

Texting causes unsafe driving. One’s personal liberty should end where public safety begins and good laws are needed to limit liberty when it comes to public safety!

There is a maxim that states “justice is better when it prevents rather than punishes with severity.” William E. Gladstone said that “good laws make it easier to do right and harder to do wrong.”

A good law with tough enforcement can help to reduce deadly distracted driving behavior. As the seat belt law encourages more seat belt use while driving, a texting law will encourage less texting while driving. May our Senate leaders soon pass the texting bill like the House has done!

Joe Sabbadino

2015 SCDTSEA Conference

The 2015 SCDTSEA Conference will be held on Friday, November 20, 2015 in Blythewood, SC at the SCDMV Building. The theme will be Helping Make Safer Drivers.

Click here to download the conference schedule.
Click here to download the conference registration form.
Click here to download an SCDTSEA membership application.
Click here to download the conference poster contest details.


Time Event
8:00-9:00 a.m. Registration and visiting Exhibitors
9:00-9:15 Welcome/Challenge/Prayer – Dr. Albert Neal, SCDTSEA Chaplain
9:15-9:20 Conference Theme, Joe Sabbadino, SCDTSEA President
Conference Presider, David Smith, SCDTSEA President-Elect
9:20-9:50 Driver & Traffic Safety in South Carolina
Colonel Kevin Shwedo, SCDMV Executive Director
9:55-10:15 Sarah Clem, Public Affairs, State Farm Safety Projects
10:20-11:30 Distracted Driving
Carol Hardin, National Driver Education Keynote Speaker
11:30-11:50 Strategies to Prevent Underage Drinking & Driving
Terecia Wilson, Research & Safety Consultant
11:50-12:05 Teacher Motivation and Service
Terry Taylor, SCDMV Supervisor
SCDMV Office of Inspector General
12:05-12:55 Lunch/Visit Exhibitors – Prayer beforehand by Dr. Albert Neal
12:55-2:05 Driver Education Instruction: Using Print and Visual Media
Carol Hardin, National Driver Education Keynote Speaker
2:05-2:15 Poster Contest Results (Exhibitors judging)/Visit Exhibitors
2:15-2:35 Driver & Traffic Safety in Public High Schools
Dr. Christine Beyer, Driver Education Consultant
SC Department of Education
2:35-3:00 SCDTSEA special awards, financial report, and Elections

Oh, Please God, I’m only 17!

(Dear Abby)…If the column today is macabre or depressing, I apologize to those of you who look to me for a laugh. But I was deeply moved by a Kalamazoo teenager who asked me to reprint this fantasy which appeared in the Tiger Tattler, the school paper of Lawrence.


Agony claws my mind. I am a statistic. When I first got here I felt very much alone. I was overwhelmed with grief and I expected to find sympathy.

The day I died was an ordinary school day. How I wish I had taken the bus! But I was too cool for the bus. I remember how I wheedled the car out of Mom. “Special favor,” I pleaded, “All the kids drive.” When the 2:50 bell rang I threw my books in the locker. I was free until 8:40 tomorrow morning! I ran to the parking lot — excited at the thought of driving a car and being my own boss. Free!

It doesn’t matter how this accident happened. I was goofing off — going too fast. Taking crazy chances. But I was enjoying my freedom and having fun. The last thing I remember was passing an old lady who seemed to be going awfully slow. I heard a deafening crash and felt a terrible jolt. Glass and steel flew everywhere. My whole body seemed to be turning inside out. I heard myself scream.

Suddenly I awakened. It was very quiet. A police officer was standing over me. Then I saw a doctor. My body was mangled. I was saturated with blood. Pieces of jagged glass were sticking out all over. Strange that I couldn’t feel anything. Hey, don’t pull that sheet over my head. I can’t be dead. I’m only 17. I’ve got a date tonight. I’m suppose to grow up and have a wonderful life. I haven’t lived yet. I can’t be dead.

Later I was placed in a drawer. My folks had to identify me. Why did they have to see me like this: Why did I have to look at Mom’s eyes when she faced the most terrible ordeal of her life? Dad suddenly looked like an old man. He told the man in charge, “Yes — he is our son.”

The funeral was a weird experience. I saw all my relatives and friends walk toward the casket. They passed by, one by one, and looked at me with the saddest eyes I’ve ever seen. Some of my buddies were crying. A few of the girls touched my hand and sobbed as they walked away.

Please — somebody — wake me up! Get me out of here. I can’t bear to see my Mom and Dad so broken up. My grandparents are so racked with grief they can barely walk. My brother and sister are like zombies. They move like robots. In a daze. Everybody, No one can believe this. And I can’t believe it either.

Please don’t bury me! I’m not dead! I have a lot of living to do! I want to laugh and run again. I want to sing and dance. Please don’t put me in the ground. I promise if You give me just one more chance, God, I’ll be the most careful driver in the whole world. All I want is one more chance. Please, God, I’m only 17.