Bill that could change driver license requirements for teens gets another hearing

COLUMBUS — House Bill 106, sponsored by Rep. Gary Scherer (R) and Rep. Michael Sheehy (D), proposes to save lives on Ohio’s roads by providing novice teen drivers with more meaningful experience behind the wheel. The bill will be up for its second hearing, where members of the Ohio House Transportation and Public Safety Committee will hear from bill proponents.

The hearing is Tuesday, March 26, in Room 114 of the Ohio Statehouse. Proponents expected to testifyi include Kimberly Schwind, senior manager public affairs for AAA Ohio Auto Club; Brock Dietrich a parent and affected family member; and Susa Hans, Ohio PTA president; others will submit written testimony and be present in the audience during the hearing.

“This bill is not about age or maturity,” Schwind said. “It is about valuable, behind-the-wheel experience. Currently, Ohio teens are not gaining the experience they need with an adult to become safe drivers. Consequently, young-driver crash rates in Ohio remain unnecessarily high. Nearly 38,000 injuries and fatalities occurred in Ohio teen driver crashes during the past 5 years. That’s an average of 20 injuries and fatalities every day.”

All Ohioans are impacted by this safety issues, since two-thirds of those injured or killed in teen driver crashes are people other than the teen driver, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

H.B. 106 would make Ohio’s roads safer by giving teen drivers more experience behind the wheel through two small — but important — adjustments to Ohio’s current licensing system.

  • Lengthening the Temporary Instruction Permit phase from six to 12 months.
  • Ensure newly licensed teen drivers are supervised while driving after 10 p.m., rather than midnight, for the first six months of licensure, with exemptions for work, school and religious activities. Note: This is NOT a curfew. Teens are NOT restricted from driving or being out after 10 p.m. They simply must be with an adult if they are behind the wheel.

The effort to modernize Ohio’s young driver licensing system started in 2016 when AAA formed the Ohio Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Coalition. After careful consideration, this broad-based coalition identified the two research-based adjustments to Ohio’s young driver licensing system as a way to save lives.

H.B. 293, also sponsored by Scherer and Sheehy, proposed the same two adjustments in the 132nd General Assembly. The bill passed out of the Ohio House Transportation and Public Safety Committee, but didn’t make it all the way through the legislature and died at the end of the session on Dec. 31. 2018.

H.B. 106 supporters include AAA, Akron Children’s Hospital, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Property Casualty Insurance Association, Better Ohio Teen Drivers Inc., DRVN, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Nationwide Insurance, National Safety Council, Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police Ohio Health, Ohio PTA, Safe Kids Ohio, State Auto Insurance, State Farm Insurance and other safety Club


Staff report