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HB 204 - Graduated Driver's License

posted Oct 6, 2013, 10:23 AM by Rick Perales   [ updated Oct 19, 2013, 6:53 PM by Mark Robertson ]

Thank you for taking the time to research HB 204, amendments to the Graduated Driver’s License (GDL).  My intent with this proposed legislation is to save the lives of our youth, as well as others on our road systems, and unfortunately statistics are proving that the current Ohio GDL system of licensing is failing in certain areas.  While Ohio currently has a GDL system, HB 204 only seeks to update the current statute in a measured, practical manner to provide our inexperienced drivers more time to gain important driving experience under relatively safe conditions.  The following statistics bear out the problem, the proposed solution and expected results based from states that have enacted similar GDL legislation, and expert projections. 

The Process

We are currently in the process of vetting the bill in the Transportation Committee at the House of Representatives, prior to be voted on during formal session.  Once (if) approved out of the house, the amendment will go through a similar process at the Senate.  There is ample time to provide comments throughout this process.  Please check the State of Ohio House website,  If you have any questions, comments or suggestion, feel free to submit to, or (614) 644-6020.

The Problem

The number of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes is on the rise. A recent report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association reveals that the number of 16- and 17-year-old deaths in passenger vehicles increased dramatically over the past year. Motor vehicle crashes remain the number one killer of American teenagers and figures show that teenagers are far more likely than any other group to be involved in fatal crashes. Unfortunately, these tragic statistics are prevalent in Ohio as well. Ohio’s most inexperienced drivers, those between 16- and 18-years-old, remain more susceptible to deadly crashes than others on the road. Teen drivers not only lack the experience of older drivers, but they also tend to take greater risks, a combination that can be deadly and put everyone in danger.

GHSA Spotlight on Highway Safety

The Solution:

Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) systems have been proven to reduce crash risks for new drivers. Most importantly, GDL systems help lower the number of fatal crashes for our youngest drivers. GDL programs allow teenage drivers to safely gain driving experience before obtaining full driving privileges. By enhancing Ohio’s GDL program, we can build upon the steps that were made in 2007 when Ohio first established its GDL program (HB 343 – Rep. Tom Raga). By implementing better nighttime hours of operation, limiting the number of young passengers, promoting seatbelt use, and updating the penalties for teenagers who violate Ohio’s driving laws, we can save the lives of countless teens in Ohio.

National Evaluation of GDL Programs

What HB 204 would do:

·        Create a 10:00 P.M. nighttime driving restriction for 16- and 17-year-old drivers, with exceptions for school and work activities.

·        Reduce the number of passengers for the first year of driving.

o       Holders of a probationary driver’s license will be able to transport one passenger who must be older than 21 years of age for the first 12 months of driving. Exceptions will be made for family members or if a parent or guardian is present in the vehicle.

·        Require that a teenage driver guilty of a moving violation must be accompanied by a parent or guardian for a period of 6 months. Moving violations are evidence of driver risk-taking, which is especially dangerous for inexperienced teen drivers. Having a parent or adult guardian could reduce crash risk. An individual can be awarded driving privileges for school or work activities.

Supporting study:

·        Clarify Ohio’s law that would require every passenger in a vehicle being operated by a holder of a probationary license to wear a seatbelt.

Numbers Don’t Lie:

·        Sixteen-year old drivers have crash rates that are about three times greater than 17-year-old drivers, five times greater than 18-year-old drivers, and approximately twice the rate of 85-year-old drivers.

Source:  The “Graduated Driver License System” fact sheet here:

·        According to ODOT, 76% of nighttime crashes involving young drivers occur between the hours of 9:00 P.M. – 11:00 P.M.

Source: Ohio Department of Transportation (Ohio Teen Stats) 

·        States with nighttime driving restrictions show crash reductions of up to 60 percent during restricted hours.

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

·        Fatal crash rates are 21% lower when teen drivers are prohibited from having any young passengers in their vehicles.

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

·        Compared with other age groups, teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use. In 2011, only 54% of high school students reported they always wear seat belts when riding with someone else.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

·        More than half of teens killed in car crashes were not restrained by a seatbelt. Wearing a seat belt is the most effective way to prevent death and serious injury in a crash. 


·        Fatal crash risk increases 44% when 16-17 year old drivers have one passenger under 21, doubles with two young passengers and quadruples with three or more young passengers.

Source:   Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health:

·        Having a parent or guardian in the vehicle can reduce fatal crash risk. A 16-17 year old driver’s risk of fatal crash decreases 62% when an adult passenger age 35 or older is in the vehicle.


Opposing Views

Additional Info

Mark Robertson,
Oct 19, 2013, 6:49 PM