SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Nearly two weeks ago, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp issued an executive order that, in certain circumstances, waived requirements to take a road test before getting a driver’s license.
News 3 has learned from the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) that in the last two weeks, 19,483 teenagers throughout the state swapped their learner’s permit for a driver’s license, without taking a road test. DDS could not provide specific numbers for specific counties.
Frenchye Mike, the owner of Premier Driver Services in Savannah, says the decision is a disaster. She has taught defensive driving for years.
“I cringe, that’s so scary!,” she said when News 3 told her about the statistic. “The purpose of the driving exam is to make sure you have those … bare minimum skills to be an adequate driver, so you can establish some level of comfort behind the wheel,” she explained.
DDS says teenagers must meet other guidelines to skip the road test. They are required to have their learner’s permit for at least one year and one day. Other requirements, according to DDS, are outlined by Joshua’s law. Teenagers also need permission from a parent or guardian.
Mike says she understands the reasoning behind the governor’s order, but she is still one of many instructors who are concerned about teenagers and even some adults getting their licenses without a ‘last check.’
People over the age of 18 are allowed to skip the road test after passing a written exam. DDS could not provide the number of adults who have received their licenses in this way.
Mike says an increasing number of new, teenage drivers on the road — who have not taken the road test — is bad news for all Georgians, especially in Chatham County where traffic is intense.
“You’re talking about increased citations, increased accidents and already you have our hospital numbers. It puts us at risk,” said Mike.
To combat these concerns, Mike is offering online classes to people who want to prepare themselves for the privilege of driving. For less than $100, she offers a certification that can reduce insurance premiums, driving record points, and nervousness while driving.
“It’s definitely been a challenge, but Premier has been able to step up to the challenge and meet the needs of those who are ready to take that course,” said Mike.
Gov. Kemp’s executive order came after DDS halted commercial and non-commercial road tests in mid-March. As of May 6, commercial road tests have resumed. You must make an appointment.
Gov. Kemp’s executive order expires with the state of emergency. His office did not respond to our request for comment.
If you would like to utilize Premier’s services, call (912) 484-6344 or visit their website.