Should teen drivers be required to have learner's permits for a full year?

Posted at 12:39 AM, Jun 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-30 00:39:46-04

A bipartisan bill proposed Thursday in the Ohio House of Representatives would place two new restrictions on teenage drivers in the name of safety, according to the American Automobile Association.

If passed, House Bill 293 would extend the period a driver needs to have their learner's permit before earning a permanent license from six months to a full year. 

It would also penalize young drivers who hit the road between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. without an adult in the car. Nighttime protections for these drivers currently start at midnight in the Buckeye State, but AAA said 33 percent of teen drivers' crashes happen between 9 p.m. and midnight.

Julie Dunn, who owns Driver Ed Academy, said she's a fan of the first provision.

"The more experience they get with their parent, it's going to lower their risk," she said. 

Cheryl Parker of the Cincinnati AAA said statistics back up the need for new drivers to have a longer learning period before they become fully licensed.

"(Six months) isn't long enough," she said. "With all the threats to traffic safety today, it's not the same as when we were teenagers."

But the second provision put 16-year-old Joe Kroger, a junior at LaSalle High School, on edge. Kroger said he was working at three local pools over the summer in hopes of saving up for insurance and a car, and he thought the 9 p.m. limit might be too restrictive.

"Me and my friends hang out past nine; I work past nine; I do drama at high school and that goes past nine," he said.

Two of those activities would be covered by the proposed law: Any teenager traveling to or from work or a school event would be alright as long as they had written documentation to prove it. 

‘Hanging out,' though, isn't covered.

Whatever happens with the new law, Kroger said he's just excited to get on the road. 

"I'm ready to go," he said. "I planned it so I can drive to school this year."