Senate Bill 226, Joshua’s Law, was drafted and introduced to the Georgia General Assembly by State Senator Preston Smith, after being approached by constituents, Alan and LuGina Brown. Their only son had died after a single-car vehicle collision while he was driving alone on a wet road.
While dealing with the grief and guilt of the loss of their child, they realized that the tragedy might have been avoided if he had known what to do in that particular driving situation. There are circumstances and problems contributing to the lack of teen drivers training, especially with families living in rural and lower income communities in Georgia.
- Availability of professional driver’s training schools in rural areas
- Lack of financial resources
- Misunderstanding by parents of the lack of availability of drivers education in the schools
- Lack of parental participation in their teen’s driving skills
Giving consideration to the fact that mandatory driver’s education would be difficult to pass, Mr. Brown reviewed these concerns and offered the following:
- Allow new teen drivers to receive their driver’s license at age 16 if they have completed a certified driver ’s education course—otherwise, they would wait until the age of 17
- Make driver’s education available to every teen through a 5% fee attached to all traffic violations in Georgia —creating an estimated $10+ annual revenue source
- Establish the Georgia Driver’s Education Commission that would define drivers education and consider the means of distribution of the funds to expand driver’s education to every Georgia teen
Passing with an overwhelming majority of 87% in the Georgia House and Senate, Legislators ranked the legislation as the second most important piece of legislation passed in the 2005 session.
The bill allowed revenues from the traffic fines to be collected beginning July 1, 2005, and accrue funds to allow broad disbursement in a manner determined by the Commission.