First Drivers Education Class Ready To Graduate - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

First Drivers Education Class Ready To Graduate

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By David Carroll

dcarroll@wrcbtv.com

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)- One down, many more to go for Chattanooga's new driver education program for teen drivers in the city. The first class is ready to graduate, and now the program is set to grow.

It's taken five weeks and thirty hours in the classroom, but these 34 students are the first graduates of Chattanooga's new driver education program. It's the result of years of planning, and a recent influx of funds from the city's traffic camera revenue.

Caroline Johnson, Drivers Ed Coordinator, says, "We have come up with this program to utilize funds to make roads safer, training our youngest drivers in the best defensive driving techniques available today."

The driving techniques are taught by professionals from Haman's New Drivers, long an effective but somewhat pricey program offered in Chattanooga for decades.  Funding from the city reduces the cost of a top quality driving program from four hundred, to only 50 dollars.

"This is the first of several stages. Once they get their learners permit, they are eligible for the Street Survival course where they can advance their skills level," says Roger Thompson of Haman's New Drivers.

Organizers admit they didn't know how parents and teens would respond to a class at a city recreation center in Brainerd.  The result is a pleasant surprise.

"The fact that they're coming from all over the city, and melding here, it's an interesting dynamic, but a positive one," says Thompson

As word spreads through the county and state, safety officials hope more traffic camera funds will be used for driver education programs where none currently exist.  And ultimately the big payoff might well be safer streets.

"I'm hoping very soon to see crash statistics diminish," says Johnson.

The next class at Brainerd Center starts in January, and is already filled.  Two others, at the Washington Hills Rec Center and John A. Patten Rec Center in Lookout Valley still have slots available.   And sometime next year, a possible expansion into the Hixson area is being considered.  For more info, go www.chattanooga.gov

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