Sheriff's seminar to teach safe driving

COVINGTON — The Newton County Sheriff's Office is hosting a free driver's education seminar to help Newton County parents prepare their teens to drive.

Sponsored by the Georgia Traffic Injury Prevention Institute at the University of Georgia, P.R.I.D.E. — Parents Reducing Injuries and Driver Error — will be presented on May 7 and May 21 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. both days. Classes will be held at Peachtree Academy on U.S. Highway 278.

Changes in the law for teen drivers require that anyone who applies for a permanent driver's license must have a parent, legal guardian or responsible adult sign a verification form affirming that the candidate has completed 40 hours (with six hours at night) of supervised driving experience, if the candidate has successfully completed an approved driver education course.

Organizers say most parents don't feel prepared, or may not know what they need to do to supervise a new teen driver behind the wheel.

"But parental involvement is key to reducing teen crashes and fatalities," said NCSO Traffic Unit Deputy J.L. Redlinger. "Teens want the practice time so they can get their license, but need to know how to communicate with their nervous parents."

He said this course is designed to fill that void and prepare 14-, 15- and 16-year-olds to drive.

The course will:

• help parents and guardians become more aware of their own driving behaviors;

• teach parents and guardians how to help their teens become safe drivers;

• help parents, guardians and teens learn what they need to do during the supervised practice driving time;

• alter attitudes and driving behaviors of novice teen drivers.

"P.R.I.D.E. is an excellent orientation to the driver education process and teen driving laws. It's designed to help young people become better decision-makers, especially new drivers," said Frankie Jones, GTIPI's director. "It will help parents and their new teen drivers learn what they need to do during those 40 hours of driving time. Our ultimate goal is to reduce risk-taking behavior and youth-related car crashes."

GTIPI offers these two-hour P.R.I.D.E. seminars statewide. They are funded by a grant from the Governor's Office of Highway Safety.

A teen and at least one parent or guardian must register to attend. Call the NCSO at 678-625-1469 or email jredlinger@newtonsheriffga.org or rdowns@newtonsheriffga.org and request a registration form. Or, stop by the sheriff's office at 15151 Alcovy Road and pick up a form.