Defensive driving course now required to park at Beaufort High

rheaton@islandpacket.comAugust 9, 2012 

Beaufort High School students who want to park their cars on campus this year must take a defensive driving course called "Alive at 25" before they claim a parking permit. The course, which costs $35, is designed to teach teens about the dangers of distracted driving.

Principal Corey Murphy said the course goes beyond what students learn in a driver's ed course. It teaches them, for example, how to respond to the pressures of driving and avoid distractions and peer pressure.

Murphy has received some calls from parents, and several were related to the course's cost or confusion over what the course is.

One parent came to Tuesday's Board of Education meeting to express her concerns. Cathy Bridgers, a parent of two Beaufort High School students, said that coupled with the $15 fee for a parking pass, it would cost her nearly $100 for her students to park on campus this year.

Bridgers added that the same course has been offered to teens who want to avoid adding points to their license after they've been cited for a traffic violation. Taking the course now -- before they're cited -- would eliminate that option, she said.

But Murphy said that won't be the case. He's been assured by law enforcement officials that students will be able to take the course again if they get a traffic ticket.

Also, the course fee can be waived for those that need financial aid, so that shouldn't be a concern, Murphy said.

The program has been required at Hilton Head Island High School for several years, district officials said Tuesday. Any controversy about ithas died down, they said.

It also used to be required at Bluffton High School, but principal Mark Dievendorf said it hasn't been since he took over in 2010.

Murphy said the number of fatal car accidents in the county last year prompted him to offer the program. Four teens died last school year in car crashes; two of them were Beaufort High students.

The course, for which students register online, will be offered at the school Aug. 18 and Sept. 8. It also will be offered at the Beaufort Police Department in September and October.

Murphy said he hopes the course will cut down on distracted driving and fatal accidents, as it's done across the state and country.

"It's just proven to save lives," he said. "That's the bottom line."

Follow reporter Rachel Heaton at twitter.com/HomeroomBft.

Related content:

S.C. Alive at 25

VIDEO: Beaufort High teens who died in crash remembered at memorial; April 23, 2012

Bluffton High, police unite to offer program to keep teen drivers safe; Aug. 27, 2008

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