Ohio takes steps to update licensing program for young drivers

COLUMBUS — Ohio took a big step this week to protect young drivers with the passage of House Bill 293 by the Ohio House Transportation and Public Safety Committee.

HB 293 is the “Young Driver Protection Bill.” Sponsored by Reps. Gary Scherer (R) and Michael Sheehy (D), the bill aims to make Ohio’s roads safer by giving teen drivers more experience behind the wheel. The original bill proposed two small, but important, adjustments to Ohio’s current licensing system.

  • Lengthening the Temporary Instruction Permit phase from six to 12 months.
  • Begining supervised night-time driving protections for novice teen drivers at 9 p.m., rather than midnight. (This is not a curfew. It is supervised nighttime driving)

During a hearing Wednesday, the committee passed an amendment changing the supervised night-time driving protection to 10 p.m. instead of 9 p.m. The current law is midnight for the first year of licensure.

“Data proves that six months is not long enough for new teen drivers to become proficient, defensive drivers,” said AAA Traffic Safety program manager Kellie O’Riordan. “Teen crash rates are higher than any other age group. AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research confirms that new teen drivers, ages 16-17, are three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash.”

In addition, the AAA Foundation analyzed data of police-reported crashes of drivers aged 15-19 from 1994-2013 and found the majority of people killed (66 percent) and injured (67 percent) in crashes involving a teen driver are people other than the teen themselves.

“Teen drivers crash mostly because of their inexperience behind the wheel,” said O’Riordan. “Humans learn complex skills by doing, rather than by being told. Knowing the rules and basic skills are necessary, but it’s not enough for a beginner to do well. Practical experience is essential for novice drivers.”

The bill will now move to the floor of the Ohio House for a vote.

By Kimberly Schwind

Special to the Inquirer

Kimberly Schwind is the senior manager of public affairs for the AAA Ohio Auto Club