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Practical rules keep teens safe at wheel

Graduated driver’s licenses, where teens earn more driving privileges as they age and gain experience behind the wheel, have been adopted by all 50 states in recent years.

Statistics back up those laws: Easing kids into driving and helping them to build skill and maturity make for safer roads.

But Ohio lawmakers have made proposals that push the limits of what is reasonable.

These include new licensing requirements for people who, in the eyes of the law, are adults.

As it stands, to get a license at age 16 or 17, the applicant must have completed a formal driver’s education course, with 24 hours of classroom instruction and eight hours of in-car training with a certified instructor.

An amendment to House Bill 204, introduced during a Tuesday committee hearing, would require that 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds also take that formal driver’s education course.

By that age, some young people are out on their own. They might be supporting themselves; they might even be supporting families. Requiring them to fork over several hundred dollars for a driver’s education course could be a hardship.

More defensible are stricter rules governing 16- and 17-year-old drivers….

HB 204 also would ban young drivers from being on the road between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless a parent or guardian is present.

Currently, 16-year-old drivers must be in by midnight; 17-year-olds by 1 a.m….

Obviously, if the state keeps all teen drivers off the road, none are going to crash. But the desire for safety has to be tempered by practicality.


The Columbus Dispatch