Ohio’s new driver’s license program seems to be working

COLUMBUS – Ohio’s graduated driver’s license program has saved 30 lives since being enacted in 1998, according to a new report released by the Ohio Department of Public Safety.

“The law was designed to improve the skills of novice drivers by requiring additional training and experience,” said Lt. Governor Maureen O’Connor, director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety.

According to this initial report, fewer 16- and 17-year-olds licensed under the new Graduated Driver License law were involved in fatal crashes, and fewer were involved in crashes involving alcohol use.

In addition to reducing the overall death rate, the driver license suspension rate of young drivers increased by 261 percent.

About the requirements. Ohio’s Graduated Driver License law, modeled after the standard developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, includes the following components:

* A curfew for driver license holders under 17, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian;

* Twenty-four hours of classroom instruction;

* Eight hours of behind-the-wheel training with a certified instructor;

* Fifty hours of driving time with a parent or guardian;

* A limit to the number of occupants permitted to drive with novice drivers; and

* Requirement to wear safety belts.

The law, which went into effect Jan. 1, 1998, was prompted by statistics that showed that although teens constituted a small percentage of Ohio’s driving population; they represented a disproportionately high rate of drivers involved in traffic crashes.

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