Lawmakers bring bipartisan teen driving bill back to the Statehouse

Ohio Statehouse Newsroom

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A year and a half ago two teenagers died in a car accident on their way to Alum Creek. Gavin Schlotterbeck, 17, was behind the wheel; his girlfriend Hunter McClelland was his passenger.

Not much is known about what exactly happened that day, but what has been determined is that he wasn’t on his cellphone and wasn’t distracted in that way.

It appears his vehicle left the road and he over-corrected bringing his car back onto the road but into the path of an oncoming Jeep. The resulting accident killed the couple instantly and injured the driver of the Jeep.

The official report has Schlotterbeck’s inexperience as the cause of the accident.

Every year inexperienced drivers cause accidents that harm or kill themselves and others on Ohio’s roadways. Often those inexperienced drivers are teenagers.

A bill that would double the length of time new driving permit holders would have to operate a motor vehicle under supervision had its first hearing Tuesday.

The bill is an exact copy of one introduced last year that was able to pass out of committee but died when then the General Assembly came to a close at the end of December.

The bill made it out of committee with strong support and no testimony in opposition to the legislation.

This General Assembly, the bill’s sponsors are not wasting any time and are hoping to get it through the House of Representatives as quickly as possible.

“Hopefully if we can get it through quickly and out of the House then the Senate’s gonna have time to get it into their agenda,” said State Representative Gary Scherer one of the bill’s joint sponsors.

Meanwhile, the bill has the support of families who have lost teens in accidents; families like the Schlotterbecks who are haunted by the accident that took the life of their son and his girlfriend.

“I think about that every day that there’s other families affected because of my son’s driving inexperience,” said Gavin’s mother Stacy Schlotterbeck.

It is not easy for her to talk about what happened to her son, or that he is no longer here. With another son now 15 years old and eager to begin driving, she is nervous.

“It’s very difficult, but as a parent, all we can do is prepare him the best we can,” said Schlotterbeck. “We can’t continually make him live in that shadow of his brother, as much as I would really just like to wrap him in bubble wrap and keep him at home and I’ll happily drive him wherever he needs to go;  I understand that that’s not gonna work.”

Schlotterbeck says she and her husband will be instituting their own parental rules on their son’s driving privileges, but that will only do so much to protect him.

“Ultimately, there’s gonna be other kids out on the road that don’t have those parental rules and so that’s why having these protections go through the legislature is so important.”

Schlotterbeck and the bill’s sponsors say the protections the bill carries are for the good of all Ohioans, not just the teens behind the wheel.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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