(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The road can be a scary place, especially for new or inexperienced drivers. However, the St. Joseph Safety and Health Council is helping those new drivers be able to get behind the wheel with confidence.
In June, the Safety Council will offer students ages 15-19 in Missouri, and students ages 16-19 in Kansas an opportunity to enroll in a drivers ed course, the first drivers ed course to be offered in St. Joseph since 2014.
“It’s so important to learn the correct way to operate a motor vehicle, and learn the traffic laws that govern the traffic that’s out there," Sheldon Lyon, executive director of the Safety Council, said.
The course will consist of 30 hours of classroom education, 12 hours of observation and six hours of behind the wheel experience.
“It’s one thing to talk about it, it’s another thing to be able to put that into practice behind the wheel and with the stress of other traffic around you," Lyon said.
The classroom portion will be conducted Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon, or 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. for two consecutive weeks.
Missouri State Representative Galen Higdon of St. Joseph assisted the Safety Council on bringing the drivers ed course back to St. Joseph. Higdon said he believes it's obvious why this course is crucial for new drivers.
“If you go to law enforcement or whatever it may be that’s responded to those scenes and saw those horrific incidences where we had to go tell the mothers and fathers that their teenager is gone, that question would answer itself," Higdon said.
The Safety Council said traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for teens age 16-19.
“It’s important that we give them [new drivers] the information so that they can become safe drivers when they’re operating a motor vehicle," Lyon said.
The program is open to those living in Andrew, Buchanan, Clinton and DeKalb counties in Missouri, and Doniphan County, Kansas.
Lyon said there will be a provision for a percentage of the class who may not be able to afford the overall cost, making sure anyone is eligible to take the course.
"It doesn't matter what your income is, it's the fact that we need you to become a confident, educated driver," Lyon said.
Interested students can register for the course beginning December 6th by going online to the Safety Council's website. Class size is limited to the first 50 students who register.