The Federal Transportation Bill signed into law last month brings with it $46 million for state incentive grants to fortify distracted-driving programs over the next two years as well as $27 million for states that adopt safety standards like graduated licensing programs and prohibiting cell phone usage while driving.

Teen drivers in Atlanta would be the group most directly influenced by a change to our existing state graduated drivers’ license programs. Currently, in agreement with the standards set forth by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, teen drivers must be at least 15 years old to obtain their drivers’ permit.  As well, new drivers must log at least 40 hours of practice driving, 6 of which must be completed at night before they are eligible to take the written and field driving tests to obtain a Georgia drivers’ license.  Once they have their license, teens may not carry any passengers for the first six months, no more than one passenger under the age of 21 for the second six months, and no more than three passengers in the car at one time until the driver reaches 18.

While Georgia hasn’t made any official announcements about changes to the current cell phone and driving laws or teen driving laws, some safety group representatives are optimistic about the potential of the new Federal funds, “We know that new drivers have more crashes than more experienced ones,” says John Ulczycki, group vice president at the National Safety Council.

As a father who has defended clients charged with traffic violations in Atlanta for more than 30 years, I understand firsthand the long lasting effects teen driving violations like speeding, reckless driving, and under 21 DUI can have on a young person’s adult life.  Be sure to continue reading my blog and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for the latest teen driving law updates.