House Bill 239 pushes for teen driving reform

By Ivy Potter -

In 2017 116 teens died in crashes on Ohio roads, and motor vehicle incidents remain the leading cause of death for teens. AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research found that two-thirds of those injured or killed in crashes involving teen drivers are people other than the driver. AAA is urging lawmakers to make Ohio’s roads safer by passing what they call “important lifesaving legislation” House Bill 293, which will modernize Ohio’s young driver licensing system. The bill, sponsored by representatives Gary Scherer and Michael Sheehy, proposes to make roads safer by ensuring teens gain experience driving in all seasons with an adult along to guide them during a year-long learner’s permit, and giving young drivers more practice driving at night with an adult driver by starting the nighttime driving protection for newly licensed teen drivers at 10 p.m. rather than midnight.

While the nighttime driving protection is not a curfew, exemptions for teen drivers will be made for those driving to or from work, school, or religious activities after 10. p.m.

A new AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study reiterated the importance of having an adult driver along to help guide young novice drivers. The study found that when a teen driver has only teen passengers in their vehicle, the rate of fatality increased 51 percent. While in cases where older passengers (35 or older) are present with a teen driver, overall fatality rates in crashes decrease 8 percent.

House Bill 293 passed out of the Ohio House Transportation and Public safety committee in late February, and is awaiting a house floor vote. The bill must pass the House and Senate by the end of 2018 in order to become a law.

By Ivy Potter