Ohio lawmakers consider major changes for teen drivers

Published: Tuesday, March 12, 2019 @ 4:58 PM

A new bill is trying to yellow light how quickly young drivers can ride solo behind the wheel.

The measure would change the length of time teens need learner’s permits.

The bill has just been introduced in the House and has yet to get a hearing.

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Right now, Ohio teens can come to the BMV to get their permit beginning at age 15½. They then only must wait six months to get a license.

RELATED: Teen drivers on of Ohio’s most at-risk groups

Ohio lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are signaling it’s time for change.

“We know the system we have today is not keeping teens safe,” said Cindy Antrican, public affairs manager for AAA Miami Valley & Northwest Ohio. 

House Bill 106 would extend the permit phase from six months to one year for drivers younger than 18. 

“I feel that that’s very important,” said Michael Bugajski of Dayton, who supports the new legislation. 

“It takes a long time to learn how to drive. Anybody can operate a vehicle, but to drive safety on the roads takes way more than a year, but I think it’s a pretty good start for a teenager,” he said. 

And his 16-year-old daughter actually agrees.

RELATED: Study: Teens involved in more crashes in summer months

“I feel like it’s more responsible. It makes the teenagers more responsible when they get their license,” Mikalah Bugajski said. 

AAA said the measure would allow Ohio to cruise into a more modern approach to driving, to give teens more experience behind the wheel to keep everyone safe. 

“It’s not a teen driver problem. It’s a danger to everyone on the roadway,” Antrican said. 

AAA said in Ohio, an average 8,300 people are hurt or killed in crashes involving young drivers every year. 

“In fact, two-thirds of crashes that involve teen drivers, the person who was injured or killed was someone other than the teen driver,” Antrican said.

RELATED: Ohio considering major changes for teen drivers

Overall, the goal is to get teens more training. 

“I feel like it’s probably a better thing to have the parents in the car so if you’re doing something wring they can be like, ‘you’re obviously doing it wrong,’” Mikalah Bugajski said. 

The proposal also would require new drivers to be supervised after 10 p.m., rather than midnight, for the first six month after they get their license.

Ohio lawmakers tried to pass a similar bill last year

House Bill 293 passed the House Transportation Committee last year but did not get a floor vote before the session ended. The bill would have extended the temporary instruction permit phase for new drivers to 12 months, up from six months, meaning new drivers would spend time on the road in each of the four seasons.

The bill would also have delayed issuance of the first license to 16 1/2 years of age and set the curfew for unsupervised teen drivers at 10 p.m., two hours earlier than the current law that requires parental supervision between midnight and 6 a.m.

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