AAA is showing public support for action in the Ohio House designed to save young lives on Ohio roadways by modernizing the state’s young driver licensing system.
HB 293, the “Young Driver Protection Bill” sponsored by Ohio House Representatives Gary Scherer ( R) and Michael Sheehy (D) would make two adjustments designed to protect teen drivers:
- Lengthen the Temporary Instruction Permit from six to 12 months.
- Begin supervised nighttime driving protections for newly licensed drivers at 9:00 p.m., rather than midnight. (Officials note, this is not a curfew – newly licensed teen drivers may still be out, they just must be supervised by an adult if they are driving).
Ohio’s young driver licensing system currently gives teens just six months to learn to be safe drivers. Research indicates this is not long enough. AAA officials argue a 12-month permit phase would allow every new teen driver the chance to practice driving in all weather conditions with an adult to help keep them safe.
“Teen crash rates are higher than any other age group,” said Theresa Podguski, Director of Legislative Affairs, AAA East Central. “In Ohio, 124 people lost their lives in crashes involving teen drivers in 2016. AAA supports efforts to extend the amount of time teens spend on the road during their probationary period in an effort to protect them, their passengers and other motorists.”
Officials suggest supervised nighttime driving protections for newly licensed teen drivers would protect them from the most dangerous driving conditions while they are still inexperienced and adjusting to driving without adult supervision.
Ohio’s current limit is midnight, but 75 percent of Ohio’s young driver nighttime crashes occur between 9:00 p.m. and midnight.
The adjustment they say would help ensure new drivers can develop the skills needed to deal with risks associated with driving at night.
The Ohio Parent Teachers Association (PTA), Impact Teen Drivers, Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police, Ohio Health, the Ohio Public Health Association, Nationwide Insurance, State Farm Insurance, Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, InAlign Partners, DRVN, and others have joined AAA in support of this bill. AAA is working with additional traffic safety stakeholders to educate the community about the bill and overall teen driver safety.
Crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States – ahead of all other types of injury, disease or violence. In 2015, 1,972 teen passenger-vehicle drivers (15 to 18 years old) were involved in fatal traffic crashes, resulting in 2,207 deaths nationwide, of which 1,730 were teens, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
“Parents have a very strong influence on their teens and play an important role in helping them take smart steps to stay safe on the road,” added Podguski. “Parents and caregivers are urged to talk about safe driving behaviors with their teens to address the most dangerous and deadly teen driving behaviors: distracted driving, speeding, driving with passengers and nighttime driving.”
To keep roads safer, AAA encouraged parents to:
- Have conversations with their teens early and often about distraction and speeding.
- Teach by example and minimize risky behavior when driving.
- Make a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for teen drivers.
TeenDriving.AAA.com has a variety of tools to help prepare parents and teens for the dangerous summer driving season. The online AAA StartSmart program also offers great resources for parents on how to become effective in-car coaches as well as advice on how to manage their teen’s overall driving privileges. Teens preparing for the responsibility of driving should enroll in a driver education program that teaches how to avoid driver distraction and other safety skills. AAA also offers Junior Associate Memberships for new teen drivers to help keep them safe on the road in case of an emergency.
Michaela Madison Reporting
(Photo Courtesy of www.teendrivingaaa.com)