Vanessa Dupre, an instructor at License to Drive, teaches Cooper Olinde the rules of safe driving on Tuesday afternoon. A new law that will require more driver's education for drivers 17 years old and up goes into effect today. (Michelle Higginbotham / American Press)
Jerry Summers, owner of the Summers Driving Academy L.L.C., teaches Victoria January, a 26-year-old student, about Louisiana traffic rules and regulations. A new law that will require more driver's education for drivers 17 years old and up goes into effect today. (Michelle Higginbotham / American Press)
Last Modified: Thursday, August 02, 2012 12:18 PM
Stephanie Gaugh, owner of local driving school License 2 Drive, said that in the last couple of weeks her business saw an increase in applicants who had completed a six-hour course to get a license but had not yet taken the exam.
Starting today, all drivers in Louisiana will not only have to take a classroom course, but will also have to have time behind the wheel.
Driver’s license applicants 17 years old and up previously only had to take a six-hour course and pass the exam to receive a license.
The new law requires that 17-year-olds must take the same 38-hour driver’s education course that 15- and 16-year-olds take — 30 hours of classroom time and eight hours behind the wheel.
Those 18 years and older will have to have eight hours of driving time in addition to the six-hour course.
“I think after Aug. 1 we’ll see an influx of people coming into the schools,” Jerry Summers, owner of Summers Driving Academy, said.
Driving school owners in the Lake Area are preparing for the change, although some say they’re unsure of how the change will affect them.
“A lot of questions haven’t been answered yet,” said Elona Sue Chesson, director of Parkview Baptist Driving School.
Of this, they’re all sure — more driver’s education for 17 year olds is a good thing.
“If you’ve never had a license, I think that’s a great law,” Gaugh said.
Summers agreed, saying some parents would wait until their children were 17 to save money.
“I think some parents thought a life was only worth forty bucks, which is a shame,” he said.
Chesson said she “can understand driver’s ed for 17 years old,” but she’s not as certain about requiring the driving time for adults.
She said the price of the 14-hour course is going to increase from the $30 Parkview charged for a six-hour classroom-only course to $250 because of the costs of gas, insurance and instructor fees.
“Some people cannot afford what we’re fixing to ask,” Chesson said.
Gaugh said that while the six-hour course took only a day to administer, the 38-hour course lasts five days.
Summers said that schools will have to work to accommodate the adults that will now be taking driving courses — one way to do that, he said, is to have the adults drive during the day and the youths drive in the evening, after school.
Summers feels the new law is a step in the right direction — toward safer roads and lower insurance rates.
“I would like Louisiana to be an example for other states,” he said.