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City Council approves teen driver course by Cumming Fairgrounds
Car

A new agreement between the city of Cumming and Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office is hoping to make better drivers of teens in Forsyth County. 

The Cumming City Council unanimously approved having Street Survival Driver Training classes hosted at a city parking lot across Castleberry Road from the Cumming Fairgrounds. Sheriff Ron Freeman said the area is uniquely situated for the program, which gives young drivers extra instruction and hands-on experience.

“Traffic is not what we grew up with here in Forsyth County and the city of Cumming,” Freeman said. “There were three or four cars on the square when we went by; that’s not the case now. Our teens are facing new challenges when they’re behind the wheel, so this actually puts teen drivers behind the wheels of cars doing things that you don’t get on your driving test or you don’t get on drivers ed in the school system.”

Freeman said the program would be faster and more in-depth than other classes and taught by instructors with a background in law enforcement. The program will have two classes per year, along with two per year in Gwinnett. 

Instructor Brian Garrett, a retired FBI agent with more than 30 years of experience, said one of the first things students do on the program is hit the brakes as hard as possible to test, or see if drivers have, anti-locking braking systems.

“The ones that do have ABS, the first time that they do it, they get scared and lift off; they think that they broke the rotor,” he said. “We have exercises that involve … going in and out of cones, we also have accident avoidance, we also wet down the tracks where you get cars sliding sideways.”

Garrett said students usually begin timid but are more confident by the afternoon. 

The cost per student is $75, and classes last about seven hours, consisting of two periods behind the wheel and time for classroom instruction.

“Half of the students are on course at a time and half the students are in the class,” he said. “What that means is that for every student that there is one instructor. It is strictly driven by the number of instructors we can come up with on that particular day.”

Mayor H. Ford Gravitt said he had previously met with the sheriff to discuss the training and felt the location was a perfect spot. 

“I think this is a good project, and we all think about safety for our kids,” Gravitt said. “If I could have took this as a kid, I would have took it in a heartbeat.”

No dates for classes were given at the meeting.