SIDNEY — Rules for teen drivers are changing on Wednesday, July 1, to focus on experience rather than age.
The changes were passed by Ohio lawmakers in April as part of the state’s new transportation budget.
Probationary drivers under the age of 18 will have the following restrictions during the first 12 months with a license:
• No driving between midnight and 6 a.m., unless that driver is accompanied by a parent or a guardian. Those with valid documentation from work, school or church allowing for travel for activities between these hours are exempt.
This rule used to state that the driver had to be at least 17 years old to drive between those times.
• No driving with more than one non-family member in the car
This rule used to state that drivers that were 16 had to have a parent or guardian in the car if there was more than one non-family member.
AAA Shelby County offers a driving school for teens seeking a driver’s license. CEO Deborah Barga feels these changes are important. She gave the example of a teenager who gets their license at 17.5 years old, just because they are over 17 doesn’t mean they have much experience driving.
She said these changes are experience driven, instead of age, which will hopefully cut back on accidents during the dangerous time of night.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, Vermont is the only state in the United States that does not have a restriction on times probationary drivers are allowed to drive.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens.
The risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16- to 19-year-olds than among any other age group. In fact, per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash, according to the CDC.
“They’re a valuable asset. Anything we can do to protect our teens is good,” Barga said.
Sgt. David Robison of the Ohio State Highway Patrol said these changes are designed to keep teens and other drivers safe. He said that these changes will hopefully make teens more responsible drivers.
Robison also emphasized the importance of safety belts. Anytime anyone is behind the wheel they, and every passenger in the car should be wearing their safety belts.
The full transportation budget passed in April can be found at legislature.ohio.gov. For more information about how to stay safe on the road, visit nsc.org.
Reach this writer at 937-538-4825; follow on Twitter @SDNAlexandraN