AAA urges lawmakers to make Ohio’s roads safer
Motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for teenagers, and the problem is getting worse. Moreover, teen crash rates continue to rise in Ohio, putting everyone at risk. In advance of Teen Driver Safety Week (Oct. 21-27), AAA encourages lawmakers to pass important lifesaving legislation that will make Ohio’s roads safer by modernizing Ohio’s young driver licensing system.
“Parents rely on the state’s young driver licensing system to guide them and their children through the learning-to-drive process, but our state’s young driver licensing system is failing families,” said Theresa Podguski, director of Legislative Affairs for AAA East Central. “It hasn’t kept up with the latest research on teen driver crashes and how to prevent them.”
Over a two year period, the number of people killed or injured in Ohio teen driver crashes jumped 15 percent, and in 2017, 116 teens died in crashes on Ohio’s roads. The increase is a problem for everyone in the state, as recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research found that two-thirds of those injured or killed in crashes involving teen drivers are people other than the driver.
Inexperience accounts for many teen crashes, and nighttime driving is especially dangerous for these novice drivers. House Bill 293, sponsored by Representative, Gary Scherer (R) and Representative Michael Sheehy (D), proposes to make Ohio’s roads safer by:
• Ensuring teens gain experience driving in all seasons with an adult along to guide them during a year-long learner’s permit.
• Giving young drivers more practice driving at night with an adult driver by starting the nighttime driving protection for newly licensed teen drivers at 10 p.m. rather than midnight.
The nighttime driving protection is not a curfew. Newly licensed teen drivers can still drive after 10 p.m., with an adult present. The bill also provides exemptions for newly licensed teen drivers driving to or from work, school and religious activities after 10 p.m.
A new AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study confirms the importance of having an adult driver along to help guide young novice drivers. The study found that when a teen driver has only teen passengers in their vehicle, the fatality rate increased 51 percent. In contrast, when older passengers (35 or older) ride with a teen driver, overall fatality rates in crashes decreased 8 percent.
H.B. 293 passed out of the Ohio House Transportation and Public Safety committee on Feb. 28, 2018 and has been awaiting a House floor vote. The bill must pass the House and Senate by the end of the year in order to become law.
A coalition of more than 50 organizations, including AAA, the insurance industry, law enforcement, hospitals, teens, and the Parent Teacher Association, is urging lawmakers to take action.