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When should Ohio allow teens to get their driver's license?

You probably thought about it as soon as your child turned 13 years old. They would soon be able to drive themselves around in just a few short years. It’s not that you don’t trust them, but you worry about their safety on the road.

Ohio has 7.5 million licensed drivers and seven percent of them are under age 21. That’s almost a half-million inexperienced drivers on the road. Nationwide, teenagers are tragically involved in three times as many fatal accidents as other groups.

There has been a recent movement in the Ohio legislature to give teenagers more on-the-road driving practice before allowing them to get their licenses. Most recently, a proposed bill to increase the permit holding period from six months to one year is being discussed by state legislators. That means the earliest your teen would receive their driver’s license would be 16.5 years old.

Ohio teens currently can receive their learner’s permits at age 15.5 and carry their permit for six months before trying for their driver’s licenses.

There is national precedent

Teens waiting longer to receive their driver’s licenses isn’t unheard of nationally. Vermont already has laws requiring teen drivers to have their learners permit for one year before taking their driver’s license test. However, a teenager in Vermont can get their learner’s permit at age 15, unlike Ohio.

States like Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New York don’t allow teenagers to receive their learner’s permits until their 16 years old and must hold their permit for six months before taking their license tests.

What’s interesting is that the states that force teen drivers to hold off on obtaining their licenses until at least age 16.5 are usually the safest states for teen drivers. It seems that Ohio is hoping to become a safer state for younger drivers by extending the learner’s permit period.

Preparing teens for the road

Driving is an important milestone for any adolescent. You might remember the sense of freedom that came with earning your driver’s license. However, your child also has a significant responsibility each time they get behind the wheel. The proposed bill would provide teens with a few more months of practice before heading out on their own.

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