Ohio bill would add restrictions for new drivers

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 10/1/2013

An Ohio House bill is intended to increase safety on the state’s roadways by applying new driving restrictions on the state’s most inexperienced drivers.

Ohio law now limits 16-year-old drivers, or probationary drivers, to carry one unrelated passenger of any age who is licensed. They must be off the road from midnight until 5 a.m. A 17-year-old is permitted to drive until 1 a.m.

Violations are a secondary offense, meaning police would need another reason to pull them over – such as speeding. Offenders face $150 fines.

No restrictions are placed on affected drivers for carrying family members.

A bill from Rep. Rick Perales, R-Beavercreek, would prohibit drivers who have been licensed for less than one year from carrying any additional teenagers.

The curfew for probationary drivers would also be moved up from midnight to 10 p.m. Exceptions to the night rules would be made for teens who work and participate in school activities.

Backseat passengers would also be required to buckle up with a probationary driver at the wheel.

Advocates say the changes are needed to minimize the distractions and outings for beginning drivers until they become more comfortable with being behind the wheel. Many affected drivers say the restrictions are unfair.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recommends that parents practice safe driving with their teens. The group advocates for 65 supervised practice hours for beginning drivers. It also advises that nearly 40 percent of young drivers’ fatal crashes occur between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. when outings tend to be recreational, which can result in more distractions.

The bill – HB204 – is in the House Transportation, Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.

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