One of the scariest moments of most parents’ lives is when their teenager gets a driver’s license and sets out on the open road. Parents inherently know the dangers of driving, especially for inexperienced kids.
Unfortunately, their fears are valid. Crashes remain the leading cause of death for teens. In addition, the number of Ohioans killed or injured in teen driver-related crashes is on the rise. Ohio Department of Transportation data shows an average of 23 injuries or fatalities occur every day in teen driver-related crashes. And AAA research found two-thirds of those injured or killed in these crashes are people other than the teen driver. Teen driving impacts us all.
An outdated licensing system
Ohio’s system for licensing young drivers hasn’t kept up with the latest research on teen driver crashes and how to prevent them.
Recent studies rank Ohio 49th when it comes to protecting teen drivers. Too many lives are lost on Ohio’s roads because the licensing system isn’t up to date.
Ohio’s young driver licensing system currently gives beginning drivers only six months to learn to be safe drivers. Research clearly indicates that’s not long enough.
A 12-month permit phase creates seasoned drivers by ensuring every new driver has the chance to practice in all weather conditions with an adult along to help keep them safe. Parents of teen drivers in states that already have a 12-month permit are supportive.
In addition, nighttime driving protections for newly licensed drivers would protect them from the most dangerous driving conditions when they are still inexperienced. Ohio’s current limit of midnight is much too late. The vast majority of Ohio’s young driver nighttime crashes happen before midnight.
How to modernize the system
The good news is, modernizing Ohio’s young driver licensing system requires only two small but important adjustments to bring it in line with current scientific evidence.
- Lengthen the temporary instruction permit period from six to 12 months.
- Begin nighttime supervised driving protections for newly licensed drivers at 10 p.m., rather than midnight. (This is not a curfew and includes exemptions for work, school- and church-related functions.)
House Bill 293, sponsored by Representative Gary Scherer (R) and Representative Michael Sheehy (D) and co-sponsor Hearcel F. Craig (D), proposes to do just that.
Modernizing Ohio’s young driver licensing system in this way will provide teens with greater protection, give their parents more peace of mind, and make the roads safer for everyone.
Thank you for helping to make Ohio’s roads safer.