Ohio teen drivers may be required to get a lot more experience behind the wheel

Politics

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A traffic safety study shows vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teen drivers in the United States.

In Ohio, lawmakers are proposing a bill for teens trying to get a probationary driver’s license will need more driving experience and clear several other hurdles.

H.B. 293, referred to as the “Young Drivers Protection Bill”, applies to prospective drivers under 18. One proposed step is to lengthen the temporary driver’s permit from six months to 12 months, along with requiring an adult in the vehicle after 10 pm except in certain cases like after school events and church. It would also change the driving age for a probationary license from 16 years old to 16 and a half years.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety said new teen drivers, usually 16- and 17-year-olds, are three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash.

Brock Dietrich’s daughter Sydnee Williams, 17, is one of those who died in a car crash in 2013.

“It was a preventable car crash, it just came from in experience driving. She had drifted off the side of the road on the highway on 161 and she didn’t know how to recover,” Dietrich said. “She overcorrected, lost control of the vehicle, went into the grassy median and the car flipped over two times, ejecting her from the vehicle because she also wasn’t wearing a seatbelt,” he said.

Dietrich said he is helping state lawmakers with a proposed law ensuring teens get more time behind the wheel with an experienced drivers. He visits high schools and talks with teens about his daughter and the need for more advanced drivers’ training.

“Four thousand teens die in car crashes every year and 400,000 teens are severely injured in car crashes, He said. “So it is so important that we keep our driving laws up to date with the experiences our teen are going through today.”

Mark Bloom with Better Ohio Teen Drivers has 25 years of experience helping teens learn how to drive. He said he is working with several high schools teaching advanced training.

“Driver’s Ed has a place with regard to rules of the road. Driver’s Ed does not teach you how to drive in difficult car situations,” Bloom said.

But he said it isn’t just teen drivers’ inexperience.

“When we have a room full of new teen drivers, I tell them, ‘your brain is still developing. Your brain hasn’t fully developed those three things tied directly to driving: impulse control, judgement and decision making,'” Bloom said.

Ohio Representative Gary Scherer is a co-sponsor of H.B. 293 and said the bill just passed out of the Transportation Committee and has not been scheduled for a House vote yet.

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