Young drivers protection bill clears committee

COLUMBUS – Ohio has taken an important first step to protect young drivers with the passage of House Bill 293 by the Ohio House Transportation and Public Safety Committee. HB 293, the “Young Driver Protection Bill,” sponsored by Reps. Gary Scherer (R-Circleville) and Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon), would make two crucial adjustments to protect teen drivers:

Lengthen the Temporary Instruction Permit phase from six to 12 months; and

Begin supervised nighttime driving protections for novice teen drivers at 10 p.m., rather than midnight. (This is not a curfew, but rather supervised nighttime driving).

In 2016 (crash data for 2017 has not yet been finalized), 124 people lost their lives on Ohio roadways in crashes involving teen drivers. “These enhancements will go a long way towards protecting everybody on the road,” said Theresa Podguski, AAA East Central director of legislative affairs. “Teen crash rates are higher than any other age group, and AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research data confirm that the impact of these crashes extends well beyond just the teens who are behind the wheel.”

Research shows that six months is not long enough for new teen drivers to become proficient defensive drivers. In fact, new teen drivers, ages 16 to 17, are three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash, according to research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The AAA study analyzed data of police-reported crashes of drivers aged 15 to 19, from 1994-2013 and found that:

While the overall number of teen crashes are down, the majority of people killed (66 percent) and injured (67 percent) in crashes involving a teen driver are people other than the teen themselves;

Nearly 50 percent of those injured were in another vehicle; 17 percent were in the teen driver’s car; and 2 percent were non-motorists (i.e., pedestrian, bicyclist); and

Nearly 30 percent of those killed were in another car, 27 percent were the teen’s passenger and 10 percent were non-motorists (i.e., pedestrians, bicyclist). “Teen drivers crash mostly because of their inexperience behind the wheel,” Podguski says. “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 now moves to the floor of the Ohio House for a vote.