GREENSBORO, N.C. – Several dozen students spend Tuesday morning in Driver’s Education classes at Southeastern Guilford High.
"It is a very important part of what we do in training these young people to know the rules of the road, to know the laws they have to follow or are expected to follow, to understand the dangers of distracted driving," said Leigh Hebbard, the Director of Activities, Athletics and Driver's Education for GCS.
The sessions of classes may be Guilford County's last for the summer. State funding for Driver's Education has been cut from the proposed state budget.
Leaving schools to pick up the tab for the required classes.
"We've estimated it’s about $1.2-million, that includes the cost of the contract, including all the materials we have to buy for student," said Hebbard,
Highway Patrol Trooper Chris Knox is speaking to students later this week. He sees the need for the program.
"This is a foundation for learning this new skill, just like learning any other, just like learning a new language or new sport,’’ said Knox.
The importance of this program is underscored by the fact that what teens learn in the classroom can save lives when they get behind the wheel.
"They're 3 times more likely to be in a fatal collision that people that are 20 and above," said Knox. "We hear it over and over again of young lives that are lost in a traffic crash, and the bad thing is, we know it is 100% preventable."
An average of 5,300 students take the classes in Guilford County each year. Hebbard says it costs around $225 per student.
"This, for most of these students, is the first time they get behind the wheel of a real car and have an experience to drive, before they get out there on the road with the rest of us," says Hebbard.
Hebbard says it costs around $225 per student, but the state has only authorized school system charge $65 for the mandatory classes.
"We've looked for the County Commissioners to possibly come in and add some to our funding, and last thing is we would have to look internally,’’ he says.
Funding for driver's education has been included in the proposed budget from the state House, but it's not in the Senate version. Budget negotiations are expected to start soon between the two houses of the General Assembly.