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Driver training school

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Posted: October 11, 2006 12:00 a.m.
Updated: October 23, 2006 4:18 p.m.
Statesboro High School students Mary Brammar and Katie Winskey are spending their Fall break away from school in a different kind of class.
    The two are part of a dozen students taking a driver's education course this week in preparation of obtaining their driver's license.
    Under a new state law, students turning 16 after January 1, 2007 are required to pass a state-certified driver's education course in order to get a license.
    Both Brammar and Winskey admitted they likely wouldn't have taken the course if they weren't required to, but said they've learned a lot already.
    "It really makes you think about things," Brammar said.
    The course, being taught by Bulloch DUI Risk Reduction, consists of 30 hours of classroom training as well as six hours "behind the wheel," said Vern Howard, one of the certified instructors teaching the course.
    Sonya Naylor, one of the classroom instructors, said they cover everything from what to do at a four-way stop to street signs and traffic laws.
    Naylor said she thinks the law requiring driver training is a good thing, even if the students don't always think so.
    "If I was them, I would have hated coming, but looking in hindsight, I wish I had of taught me all of this stuff," she said.
    Clark Harden is the instructor who takes the students on the road for their training in a specially equipped car designed for driver's education.
    "We make them pass other cars and then allow cars to pass them," Harden said.
    He also said he'll force the car off the road, at slow speeds, and see how the students respond and if they correct for that situation correctly.
    On Wednesday, the class heard from Gordon Lowe, a 20-year law enforcement veteran who lost his stepson in a drunk driving accident in 1993.
    Lowe spoke about the choices we make and how those decisions not only impact you at the moment you make them, but can affect people for months and years to come.
    "What you do today affects more than just yourself," he said, "Most kids and most adults have this circle around them as far as they can reach, and that's all they think about."
    Following Lowe's presentation, the students went to Georgia Southern where they attempted to drive a golf cart with "drunk goggles" on and Lowe in the cart with them trying to distract them.
    While the state law requires students to pass the course, there was no funding allocated for it, Howard said. The course at Bulloch DUI Risk Reduction costs $399.
    He said that they are willing to work with parents and others to work out a payment schedule or possibly reduce the rate, depending on the individual circumstances.
    "Because we're in the private sector, it's not all about the money," Howard said. "Our main concern is for safety. We're willing to help anyone who needs help."
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