Getting a drivers license can be a thrilling, liberating experience for teens. It can also be a challenging one, as they learn not only to navigate a vehicle, but the laws and responsibilities that go along with it.
Parents of new drivers must also deal with these challenges as they help guide their children through the transition.
The Richmond Hill Police Department’s PRIDE (Parents Reducing Injury and Driver Error) Course is a free program that seeks to educate both new drivers and their parents.
The two-hour course covers provisional licenses and their stipulations, the science behind a collision, driver safety, new texting laws and more.
According to RHPD Cpl. Susan Willis, program coordinator and instructor, PRIDE is important for two main reasons.
“One, it addresses the parents and what their responsibilities are with the new driver, and two, it really hits on the safety issues that we and the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety promote,” she said.
Willis added, “There are a lot of stipulations with the new drivers’ provisional licenses and a lot of parents aren’t aware of those.”
Parents and teens are separated for one portion of the course. During that time, parents are given a lesson called “Coaching Your New Driver,” while the teen lesson is “Getting the Keys to the Wheels and Keeping Them.” Each group takes driving safety surveys, which are then compared when the class is reunited.
Kay Green, South Bryan Recreation director, attended a class with her teen. She found the program and the videos shown in class to be very effective.
“It was fabulous and very worthwhile, both for the parents and the young drivers,” Green said. “It was very informative and even a little scary, but the children need to realize they’re driving a weapon that could get them killed or kill someone else. I think it should be mandatory.”
Implemented in Richmond Hill in 2009 by RHPD Chief Billy Reynolds, the class has been gaining momentum, largely due to word of mouth recommendations from those who have taken it. The course is sponsored by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and the lessons were developed by the Georgia Traffic Injury Prevention Institute.
The next PRIDE course will take place at 10 a.m. this Saturday, August 20, at the Richmond Hill Police Department (120 Richard Davis Drive). Space is limited, so call Willis at 756-2837 or 756-5645, or email her at email@example.com to register.
Classes are generally offered once each month, with the exception of July and December. For a full schedule of upcoming PRIDE courses, visit www.ridesafegeorgia.com and click on the “Teen PRIDE” tab.