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December 28, 2006 Issue

Just in time for Christmas
Law changes for teen drivers Rules of the road changing for teens

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Just in time for Christmas

• Six new SPLOST purchased fire engines pulled into town Thursday

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

All little boys want to be firemen when they grow up.

At least one Jefferson County commissioner got to live that dream, if only briefly, last week.

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On Thursday, Dec. 21, Commission Chairman William Rabun drove one of six newly acquired fire trucks bought by Special Local Option Sales Tax money into the city of Louisville.

Those six engines were driven from Winder into the county and parked in front of the courthouse, arriving about 5 p.m.

Two additional fire trucks, one for Wadley and one for Avera, will be delivered in approximately five months, according to county administrator Paul Bryan.

Rabun, who drove Louisville’s fire truck in, said, “It drives better than my automobile.” Rabun said the new fire trucks and their equipment will not only increase fire protection but may help reduce the ISO rating, which in turn will reduce fire insurance premiums for the residents.

“These wonderful fire trucks before us today are here because of the vision of the fire departments and fire association with the county,” Rabun said. “And because the citizens of Jefferson County recognized the need for this enhanced fire protection by voting yes to the SPLOST referendum in June, 2005.”

The total cost for the eight trucks is $1,620,912, with a down payment of $560,000, according to Bryan.

“Each city was allowed the same amount for purchase of a truck,” Bryan said. “Anything outside the purchase amount is the responsibility of the city.”

The balance for the trucks is to be paid over the next two years, the administrator said.

County Commissioner Johnny Davis was pleased with delivery of the vehicles to the county.

“This is one of the greatest investments with the SPLOST money the county could make,” he said.

Commissioner Gonice Davis agreed, emphasizing how the trucks and the equipment on them will assist in lowering the county’s ISO rating.

The ISO rating is a standard means by which insurance companies factor premiums to homeowners for fire insurance coverage. A one-point reduction in the rating could generate significant savings to a homeowner.

“I don’t know if it would always be significant,” said William Toulson Jr., an insurance agent with Bargeron Insurance of Louisville. “It would depend on several factors, the age of the home, its size. All of those could impact the savings to a consumer. But it definitely would affect their premiums and lead to some reduction.”

Larry Cheely, the fire department chief in Wrens, said he is most appreciative to the voters who approved the SPLOST funding of the equipment and vehicles.

“Second,” he said, “we appreciate the county commissioners. We’ve got some good fire engines and good equipment.”

Wrens Mayor Dollye Ward said she is impressed with the new items. “It’s something we’ve needed for a long time,” she said.

Chip Evans, 37 of Bartow, has been a volunteer firefighter with Bartow Fire Department for 16 years. He drove Bartow’s new truck into Louisville for the presentation at the courthouse.

He pointed out various pieces of equipment that came with the truck.

There were pike poles, long yellow fiberglass poles with hooks on the end. Evans said the device is used to tear out ceilings, move power lines and move other items, such as tin roofs, that would be too hot for the firefighter to move otherwise.

There’s an onboard generator, a positive pressure ventilation fan, a ground mount for a deck gun, a ventilation saw, two fire extinguishers, foam for a chemical fire, hard suction hoses to pull water from a pond, air packs and various tools to help the firefighters with numerous tasks.

Evans said this vehicle and the equipment on it complies with current ISO standards.

“This (truck) is 35 years newer than the newest truck we’ve got,” Evans said, adding the most recent truck prior to this is a 1971 model.

Brandon Davis and Troy Stewart, both volunteer firefighters with the Stapleton Fire Department, expressed their gratitude for the fire truck Stapleton received.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Stewart said. “We appreciate the citizens voting for us to get this.”

Davis agreed. “We’re glad the citizens wanted to help us,” he said. “It’s nice to know you’re appreciated.”



Law changes for teen drivers Rules of the road changing for teens

By Keyon Wilson
Apprentice

Vehicular crashes are the leading cause of death for kids ages 15 to 20, according to a report by CBS Evening News anchor, Thalia Assuras.

According to her statistics at least 15 children die every day on the road largely because of inexperience behind the wheel, excessive speed, too many passengers in the car, or alcohol.

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The Teenage and Adult Responsibility Act is designed to help address those particular issues by concentrating on the known primary killer of young people--traffic crashes.

Now teens have to prove that they are ready for taking on the responsibilities of the road when setting out for their licenses.

Sara Saulsberry of the Georgia Department of Driving Services in Swainsboro spoke at an assembly at Jefferson County High School in September.

Discussions centered on the Joshua Law, teen death rate and the license obtainment process.

The Joshua Law, or Senate Bill 226, goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2007.

The idea for the law was proposed by the parents of Joshua Brown.

He was one of 123 Georgia teens who died in one of the many car crashes in 2003. The law requires 16-year-olds planning to acquire class D licenses to take a driver’s education course before the road test. Parents must sign and verify their child’s successful completion of the course. According to SB 226, the legal guardian or parent who signs and verifi es that a minor has successfully completed the course for an instruction permit or driver’s license may give written notice to the department. The written notice has to be signed and verifi ed before a person authorized to administer oaths.

However, with the added step to the process of Class D license obtainment; this may cause complications for some.

Parents are required as well to assist their teen in completing the 40-hour driving course. The course or similar courses are offered at many different school campuses both public and private; some of which charge for training. East Georgia College, Swainsboro, is offering the course for teens at $300. Their course includes 30 hours online and six hours driving. Sandersville Technical College, Sandersville Campus, offers the course as well for $290.

They have begun a class and it is being held on Saturdays.

The class is held in a classroom. The next class has not been scheduled.Susan Sports, public information officer of the Department of Drivers Services, stated that 17-year-olds do not have to take the driver’s education course. Still, they are required to have 40 hours of driving with a parent or guardian, six of which are at night. The parent/guardian has to verify this as well.Currently the course isn’t offered locally. Jefferson and Glascock counties do not have the course available for their local teens because of a lack of funding. Jefferson County Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Donnie Hodges said that school officials are aware of the law and hope the state, or the Joshua Brown Foundation itself will help. “We’d like to be able to offer it, but we don't have the funding,” she said.Glascock County Assistant Superintendent Jim Holton said funding was their concern as well.

“We’re not offering anything now,” Holton said. “We’re basically getting zero dollars; we’re not getting enough to do a program with.”Funds have to be available for the trainers as well as the equipment used in the course.

Jefferson County EMS official, Mike Bennett, hopes that Jefferson County can provide services to its teen citizens and their parents soon.

“We probably will start sometime (soon) with a couple of pilot courses,” Bennett said. Plans include inviting staff from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety when the course begins.

“This will give the parents and the teens a chance to interact with the people from GOHS.”

The virtual course is also available on-line for interested teens. However, according to Ms. Sports it will not serve as a substitute for the driving segment. The actual driving portion is still necessary.Although the law is designed for protection purposes, some don’t quite agree with it.

According to Jefferson County High School sophomores Shankeil Tarver and Dontavian Stone the law is unnecessary. They believe it will cause more unlicensed teens to drive. Kim White, an educator at Jefferson County High School has a different view.“I think it’s great because I’m for any law which provides more protection for teenagers,” she said. Despite the law’s complications, it may offer a comfort to some parents.

The law’s aim is to help reduce the rate of vehicle-related deaths of teenagers. In 2003, teenagers accounted for 10 percent of the U.S. population and 13 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths. The teen death rate was 22 teens per 100,000 for 16-year olds. For 18-year olds it was 34 teens per 100,000. A constant 22 teens per 100,000 remained until age 25, according to a report by Child Trends Databank.

The National Safety Council and the group End Needless Death on our Roadways reported in 2005, the death rate among Georgian teen drivers between ages 16-20 as 90 teens per 100,000 registered teenage drivers. However, before driving, an individual must have some class of license. TADRA established graduated licensing for Georgians between the ages of 15 to 18, with three separate classifications.The first step toward receiving a full license is the instructional permit (class CP).

This is granted to 15-year-olds once a written examination is passed. After an Instructional Permit has been held for a total of 12 months and a day and a comprehensive road test has been passed, individuals ages 16 through 18 have the privilege of receiving their Intermediate License (Class D). This license has restrictions; once individuals reach 18, their license needs to be updated to Class C or the restrictions will still apply.

After getting licenses, students have to keep working to keep them. School officials are to monitor behavior and attendance and report poor performance to proper authorities. Severe misconduct in any way can result in the suspension of the license.For more information on licenses visit The Department of Drivers Services’ agency website, www.dds.ga.gov.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Joshua's Law?
Senate Bill 226, also known as Joshua’s Law, was passed during the 2005 General Assembly. Beginning Jan. 1, 2007, all 16-year-olds applying for a Class D driver’s license must complete an approved driver education course and complete a total of 40 hours of supervised driving, 6 hours of which must be at night, with a parent’s or guardian’s sworn verifi cation that these requirements have been met. Any Georgia resident who has not completed an approved driver education course must be at least 17 years old to be eligible for a Class D driver’s license. He or she must have completed a total of at least 40 hours of supervised driving, including at least 6 hours at night. The same verifi cation in writing by a parent or guardian is required.

2. Where can I find an approved driver’s education course?
http://www.dds.ga.gov/teens/DTschools.aspx

3. Who conducts the 6 hours of night training?
Parent or Legal Guardian

4. What if my child is 17 years old. Do the same rules apply?
No, but they must have 40 hours of supervised driving (6 of which must be at night)

5. When does the law change take place?
Jan. 1, 2007

6. Will the parent/guardian be able to get an insurance reduction when my child completes a state approved Driver’s Education course?
Only a Certificate of Completion from a State Licensed School providing 30 hours of classroom instruction and 6 hours behind the wheel instruction would be eligible for a reduction in insurance premiums.

7. What is the cost of a driver’s education course?
Costs are determined by the schools.

8. What if my child just moved in to the state of Georgia?
Any 16-year-old must have taken an approved Drivers Education Course to be issued a license in Georgia. If you have taken a course out of state, please contact DDS.
Source: http://www.gateendrivereducation.dds.ga.gov/faq.html




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