Getting a driver’s license is a rite of passage for many young people. The freedom that comes from being able to drive yourself wherever you need to go is something teens may dream about long before they take their driving test. It’s often a happy day for parents as well, who may not have to adjust their schedule as much in order to shuttle their children to various activities.
A proposed new law in Ohio may change that a bit, though. Currently, teens can get a learner’s permit once they turn 15-and-a-half years old and obtain their license at age 16. If the new law goes into effect, they’ll have to wait longer. This measure has its critics, but supporters are hopeful that it will reduce the number of car accidents involving young people.
What does the new law say?
If passed, the new law would raise the age limit to obtain a driver’s license. Applicants would have to be age 16-and-a-half. Teens can still get a learner’s permit at the age of 15-and-a-half. This isn’t the first time that Ohio has looked into making a change like this. A similar measure in 2017 failed.
What do supporters hope?
The American Automobile Association (AAA) praised these efforts, along with the insurance industry. They claim that the number of crashes involving teenage drivers proves that young people would benefit from a full year of driving with a parent or guardian present. According to their statistics, drivers aged 16-17 get into in fatal crashes three times as often as adults.
One AAA representative pointed out the need for teens to have experience driving in different weather and road conditions. This is something she says is more likely when a teen has to drive in all four seasons of the year. Driving instructors echo that sentiment, but one says that she would rather have the learner’s permit age lowered to 15 instead of raising the age for obtaining a driver’s license.
Is there a downside?
There seems to be no official opposition to this measure, though the concern of some families is how this might affect teens who want to obtain employment. Even some business owners are concerned that they won’t be able to hire young people who do not yet have their driver’s license. Some families want their teens to be able to drive themselves to after school activities, and a law like this may have a significant impact on that ability.
Whether the bill passes or not, it is still imperative that young drivers obtain as much driving experience as possible before they drive on their own. The safety of other motorists or people that young drivers could encounter cannot be ignored. Anyone who suffered harm in a car accident caused by a teen driver knows that all too well.