Senate Bill 510 Changes Joshua’s Law, Teen Driving Restrictions

A new bill in Georgia could have a huge impact on teen drivers.

ATLANTA — Joshua’s Law is a 2005 law that changed driver’s license requirements for teens. But a new Georgian bill could still change things.

The 2005 law requires immediate family members to be the only passengers in the car for the first six months with a driver under 18. Then, for the next six months, a teenage driver could have other passengers in the car, as long as no more than one of those passengers is under 21.

Under Senate Bill 510, a new driver under the age of 18 could drive a car for the first year with another passenger in the car. This passenger does not need to be a family member or be 21 years old.

The idea behind the original law is based on data, which shows that the risk of accidents is higher for teenagers aged 16 to 19, especially if they have just obtained their license and are distracted.

A study shows that the risk of a fatal car accident increases by 44% if there is no one over the age of 21 in a teenager’s car.

Looking at traffic data from the Georgia Office of Highway Safety, the number of drivers aged 15 to 17 killed in car wrecks hasn’t significantly improved or changed in nearly a decade in Georgia. But looking at all crashes from 2019, of the roughly 74,000 young drivers involved in crashes in Georgia, 56% were distracted by another person or a cell phone.

The new bill to change the original restriction has bipartisan support and has already passed the Georgia Senate. It will be taken up by the House on Thursday.

Norman D. Briggs