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Ohio Lawmakers Consider Doubling Training Time For Teen Drivers

Peter Dutton

A bill in the Ohio General Assembly would further restrict teen driving, doubling the temporary phase when teens are learning from six months to a year. The legislation would also further restrict night-time driving.

State Rep. Michael Sheehy (D-Toledo), who co-sponsors the bill, says reducing traffic collisions requires a multi-pronged approach.

"Studies have indicated that teens who have longer period of time holding that permit, there's a greater likelihood that they're going to successfully operate the automobile in the state without having a collision," he says.

Sheehy also introduced measures in the past to make texting-while-driving a primary offense. But he says that it's hard to argue with the numbers for teenage driving.

"The statistics indicate that people, our young citizens, in that time frame, there's a dramatic increase, a 15 percent increase in injuries and fatalities," he adds. "So we're trying to extend the time they get supervision."

He and state Rep. Gary Sherer (R-Circleville) first introduced the bill last year, but it failed to get out of committee. But Sheehy says tweaks to the bill have improsed its chances.

"Originally, the nighttime driving, we wanted to restrict that from 9 p.m. until 5 in the morning. And we got some pushback," he says. "So we have changed the nighttime driving from 10 p.m. until 5 in the morning."

Sheehy adds that, while there are exceptions for work, church, or school-functions, he understands those restrictions could interfere with some teenagers' schedules.

"Will it impact certain families in a negative way for about six months? It's very possible it can be an inconvenience," Sheehy says. "But in the long run, it might mean that that child is going to be with you for the rest of your life."