Panama City- Three local teenagers have died in traffic accidents this summer leading to pressure on the Bay County School District to reinstate drivers education courses.
NewsChannel 7 discovered Monday there's legislation that may have prevented the district from cutting the programs several years ago because of budget cuts.
It's called the Dori Slosberg Driver Education Safety Act. Passed in 2002, it gives county commissions in the state of Florida the right to charge an additional $5 on traffic violations, the extra money going to fund driver education programs in schools.
"There was only a handful of school districts in the entire state that were not utilizing the Dori Slosberg Act," said Bay County School District Safety and Security Chief Mike Jones.
Bay County is one of those Districts. Jones said county commissioners decided against the act on at least three different occassions right around the same time budget cuts forced school district officials to cut drivers education courses.
"In their defense, the economy is so bad why do we want to put another cost on somebody else. Our point of view was we're not penalizing every citizen, we're penalizing traffic violators," said Jones.
But now the issue is back in the spotlight after three Bay County teens died behind the wheel this summer, and a growing number of concerned residents are demanding the district reimpliment drivers education classes.
"You have to be creative nowadays to get the funding for the programs that you want, and this (Dori Slosberg Act) is definitely a creative way to do that," said Bay County School Board Member Steve Moss.
No word as to when Bay County could revisit the Slosberg Act, but for parents who want their teens to attend driving classes, the Bay County Sheriff's Office may soon have an option.
Sheriff Frank McKeithan is working on what's called the "Teen Driver Challenge," which would expose drivers to real-life scenarios. The sheriff''s office said it hopes to have the program up and running by the end of the year.