Issue Background

Ohio House Bill 204 - Graduated Driver Licensing

Inexperience is  principal reason why motor vehicle crashes are the number one killer of teens.

Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Systems – when properly structured – are overwhelmingly proven to reduce crashes among new drivers.  Ohio’s GDL system lacks adequate protections in night and passenger restrictions to produce these reductions.

Motor vehicle crashes are, by far, the number one killer of teens.  In Ohio, 16- and 17-year-old drivers are heavily overrepresented in injury, fatal and total crashes.  Yet, teen driver safety concerns all Ohio motorists.

Over the past 10 years,  63 percent of all fatalities involving a teen driver were someone other than the teen driver:  a passenger, someone in another vehicle, a pedestrian or other non-motorist. 

Inexperience is  principal reason why motor vehicle crashes are the number one killer of teens.

Ohio’s current night restriction limits night driving after midnight for newly licensed 16-year-old drivers and 1 a.m. for 17-year-old drivers.  Only 20 percent of all night driving crashes happen after midnight, rendering the current system ineffective.  By lowering the night restriction to 10 pm, where teens are more than 2.5 times more likely to be killed, Ohio will instead address 65 percent of night crashes for newly licensed drivers.

The night driving proposal in Ohio H.B. 204 does not create something new for new teen drivers and their parents.  Prior to obtaining their probationary license, teens either drive to work or school activities with a supervising adult.  The proposal simply continues supervised driving after 10 p.m. for a limited time..

Parents of newly licensed Ohio teen drivers overwhelmingly support these proposed limitations in H.B. 204.  In an October, 2013 survey of newly licensed Ohio teen parents by the Center for the Study of Young Drivers, University of North Carolina, 90 percent of these parents think Ohio should limit driving after 10 pm for all beginning teen drivers, work or school activities exempted; and 81 percent favored limiting passengers, exempting family members, which is what H.B. 204 proposes.

Parents see GDL licensing rules as extremely helpful to them.  In numerous studies of parent opinions they are extremely supportive.  Parents see the limitations in law as the state helping them, not interfering.

Proposed Legislation

Numerous studies and crash data reports have demonstrated the need for improvements to Ohio’s current system, specifically regarding nighttime driving limits and passenger restrictions for newly licensed probationary drivers.

H.B. 204, Rep. Perales, is currently in the Ohio House Transportation, Public Safety, and Homeland Security Committee, where it has undergone three hearings. Two of the bill’s highlights include:

·         Setting a 10:00 p.m. nighttime driving restriction (not a curfew) for newly licensed16- and 17-year-old drivers.

·         Reducing the number of passengers that probationary driver’s license holders can carry during the first year of driving to one passenger, who must be at least 21 years old. Exceptions would be made for family members or if a parent or guardian is present in the vehicle.

 

Survey

AAA recognizes that parents play an important role in young driver training and recently surveyed Ohio parents to gauge their support for the proposed enhancements to Ohio’s GDL system. According to this survey:

·         90 percent of parents support a 10:00 p.m. nighttime driving limit for newly licensed 16- and 17-year-old drivers, with exemptions for work and school travel.

·         81 percent of parents support extending passenger limit restrictions to newly licensed 17-year-old beginning drivers, with exemptions for family members. (Currently, Ohio limits newly licensed 16 year-olds from carrying more than one teen passenger, but newly licensed 17 year-olds have as many passengers as seatbelts in the vehicle). 

The survey found that parental support for these changes was highly similar in the most urban and rural areas of the state.

“The AAA survey confirms my belief that the parents of teen drivers in Ohio realize that the provisions in this bill will help keep their sons and daughters safe by reducing the number of crashes among Ohio’s novice drivers,” said Rep. Rick Perales, sponsor of the proposed GDL legislation. “I have sponsored this bill because I am passionate about improving the safety of Ohio’s teen drivers, and am pleased that parents support this effort.”

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