Learn the background on Joshua’s Law and how it aims to prevent fatal teen car accidents
Every day, approximately 7 teenagers die in car accidents in the United States.
The parents of Joshua Brown, a Georgia teenager killed in a car accident in 2003, have dedicated their lives to reducing the number of fatal teen car accidents.
In this article, we’ll take a look at Joshua’s Law, including what the law requires teen drivers to do before they can receive a driver’s license and what impact the law has had on teen car accidents in Georgia.
Who was Joshua?
Joshua Robert Brown was born in 1986 to Alan and LuGina Brown in Cartersville, Georgia. He was a happy child and grew up to be a high-achieving teenager who excelled at football and baseball. But it was ultimately his extraordinary musical talent that got him accepted into a prestigious music school in Boston, which he planned to attend after graduating from high school.
Tragically, he was never able to fulfill this dream.
On July 1, 2003, Joshua was driving on a 2-lane highway in the rain when his truck hydroplaned and crashed into a tree. Joshua fought to stay alive for 9 days but ultimately succumbed to his injuries on the morning of July 9.
“You just can’t get over it,” said Alan Brown. “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t have a breakdown.”
How did Joshua’s Law get passed?
Within 1 year of Joshua’s death, Alan and LuGina created the Joshua Brown Foundation with the mission of helping save the lives of teen drivers. The foundation quickly raised $250,000 to provide driving simulators and training to Joshua’s former high school and developed a program to provide driver education for every teen in Georgia.
Wanting to ensure that teen drivers were better prepared for the hazards of the road before they received the license, Alan wrote Joshua’s Law, which toughens teen driver requirements. In 2005, the law, thanks in large part to Alan’s advocacy, passed with an overwhelming majority of 87% in the Georgia House and Senate.
Since its passing, Alan has helped pass similar laws in 13 other states.
Joshua’s Law requirements
Joshua’s law is really quite simple. If you’re 16 years old and you want to receive your driver’s license, you MUST first complete an accredited driver’s education course. There are 4 ways you can accomplish this:
|Method 1||Method 2||Method 3||Method 4|
Alternatively, you can wait until you’re 17 years old and complete 40 hours of supervised driving (6 of which must be at night).
Impact of Joshua’s Law on teen car accidents
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle crashes are the 2nd leading cause of death for U.S. teens. The risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among teens ages 16-19 than among any other group.
Some factors that cause or contribute to teen accidents include:
- Distracted driving. In 2019, 39% of teenagers reported texting or using email while driving.
- Peer passengers. Teen drivers are almost 8 times as likely to get into an accident with 2 or more peers in the vehicle.
- Speeding. Roughly 30% of teen accidents involve speeding.
- Alcohol and drugs. Roughly 17% of fatal DUI accidents every year involve teens.
- Fatigue. Teens have a higher risk of drowsy driving because they’re new drivers and often sleep-deprived.
- Poor road conditions. Poor road conditions include everything from potholes to traffic signs that are obscured in some way.
- Lack of knowledge/experience. Most teen accidents happen within the teen’s first year of driving.
Many teen car accidents are preventable. According to at least 1 estimate, by teaching teens how to be safe drivers before they receive their license, Joshua’s Law saves roughly 22,000 lives every year in the U.S.
“I strongly believe that if someone had taught Joshua what to do when he hydroplaned, he’d be here today,” said Alan Brown. “That’s the burden I live with.”
If you or your teen has been involved in a car accident in Georgia, you may be able to receive compensation. Consider using our free legal directory to reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney today.
See our guide Choosing a personal injury attorney.