Lawmakers in the Ohio House moved a step closer to mandating more training and oversight for new teen drivers.
The House Transportation Committee voted 11-3 in favor of House Bill 293, which will extend the temporary instruction permit phase to 12 months, up from six months, and delay issuance of the first license to age 16 1/2 years of age.
It also would prohibit newly licensed teen drivers from driving without parental supervision between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. during the first six months that they hold an Ohio license. Current law requires supervision after midnight.
“I would never want to be one of those parents who got the knock at the door and learned their teen driver had been killed,” said Cindy Antrican of the Dayton area AAA Clubs.
House Bill 293 is backed by the Ohio Conference of AAA Clubs, Nationwide Insurance, Ohio PTA, Ohio Fraternal Order of Police, Nationwide Children’s Hospital and others. Ric Oxender, lobbyist for the Ohio Conference of AAA Clubs, said in written testimony that the current system doesn’t give young drivers enough supervised time behind the wheel in all seasons of weather before they get their licenses and they are most at risk of crashing after 9 p.m.
Lawmakers set 10 p.m. as the new threshold for supervised driving as a compromise. They also included a provision to drop the current requirement that teens traveling solo after hours carry documentation that they were out for work, church or school.
“There is carnage on our highways. Teen automobile crashes are occurring at an alarming rate, and in Ohio they are on the rise,” Oxender warned.
Robert Foss, emeritus director of the Center for the Study of Young Drivers at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, testified in favor of the bill as well. His research shows a dramatic drop off in crashes after the first 12 months of a driver being licensed.
Ohio went to a “graduated” driver license system nearly 20 years ago, requiring more training and placing limits on new young drivers.
Nationwide, 99,000 teen drivers were injured in vehicle traffic crashes and 1,972 teen drivers were involved in fatal crashes in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“Teen drivers have a higher rate of fatal crashes, mainly because of their immaturity, lack of skills and lack of experience. They speed, they make mistakes, and they get distracted easily — especially if their friends are in the car,” NHTSA said in a written release.