Teens approaching driving age have a special option in Warren County, thanks to a grant from the Department of Highway Safety. The $135,000 grant was awarded last year to allow Warren County High School to become a licensed driver's education facility.
Instructor Scott Richardson said 37 students went through the program last year and received their certificates. Twenty-one are in the class this year, thanks to another $20,000 continued grant.
Mr. Richardson accompanies the students as they practice driving on the road.
"We drive to Augusta, through Belle Meade subdivision in Thomson, down country roads, a lot of places because you are supposed to take them through different road conditions," Mr. Richardson said.
The grant money purchased two Ford Crown Victorias for the class, as well as materials and books, computer software and several driving simulators.
"It was a whole lot of hoop-jumping, but the state came through with the money and we are very thankful for the program," Mr. Richardson said.
Through Joshua's Law, the state requires all teenagers younger than 18 to take a state-approved driver's education course. Most courses cost money and few are offered in schools after budget cuts were implemented the last few years.
The course provides the required hours in the classroom and on the road for each student.
"It's a great thing to be able to do," Mr. Richardson said. "Anywhere else, the parents would have to pay for all that. But here, it's free."