ATLANTA -- In Georgia, teenagers are eligible for a conditional drivers license at 16 and an unrestricted license at 18 - but how are those younger teenage drivers doing on the road?
The trend in Georgia is a positive one, and it bucks the national trend.
According to a new Governors Highway Safety Association study, the rate of death of 16 and 17 year old drivers nationally is at 19 percent, while in Georgia and 16 other states, the statistics for the first half of 2012 are down from a year earlier.
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On a year-to-year basis, 16 and 17 year old Georgia drivers are causing fewer fatal accidents. The Georgia Department of Transportation says that in 2011, there were 36 crashes 37 overall deaths while last year there were 21 fatal accidents with 23 deaths.
The main reasons, Georgia educators and driving instructors say, are tighter laws, strict requirements to get a license and the state of the economy.
"If you want to get a drivers license when you are 16 years of age you have to take some form of drivers education," said Barry Schrenk of Taggart's Driving School. "You also in addition to driver's ed, have to complete 40 hours of in-car experience - six at night."
In many cases that means learning with an instructor from the ground up, often unlearning bad driving habits the teens have seen while growing up.
"They started off in the back seat watching their parents drive," Schrenk said. "The parent runs a red light, speeds or changes lanes two or three times, and they follow the same thing."
In some cases the difference has to do with tight family budgets and fewer sets of keys getting into the hands of teens.
"A lot of people are not driving and not buying their teenagers cars right off the bat when they turn 16 year old and they get their drivers licenses," Schrenk said.