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AAA East Central
5700 Brecksville Road
Contact: Brian Newbacher
Director of Public Affairs

New teen driving law will save lives
AAA/Ohio Teen Driver Coalition help win passage of passenger limits for new drivers; parents are key

December 15, 2006 – The fatal crash risk for teens, especially 16-year-olds, will be reduced in Ohio with the passage of Substitute House Bill 343 by the Ohio Senate this week, according to AAA East Central.

The new law, once signed by Gov. Bob Taft as expected, will limit the number of passengers in a teen-driven vehicle to no more than one passenger. Exceptions are made for family members and emergency situations.

The law also will extend the night-time driving restriction to midnight to 6 a.m. for drivers under 17. It also will require children in the backseat between the ages of 4 and 15 to be buckled or in an approved child passenger safety seat.

“Ohio is now one of 36 states to include a passenger limit with its graduated driver licensing system,” said Brian Newbacher, director of public affairs for AAA East Central. “It will be primarily up to parents to make sure their teen complies with the law. While it may present temporary inconveniences, other states have found passenger limits to be well tolerated.”

In Ohio, 1,173 lives were lost in crashes involving young novice drivers from 1995-2004; of which, 428 were drivers 15-17 years old, 386 were their passengers, 289 were occupants of vehicles operated by drivers at least 18 years of age, and 70 were non-motorists.

“The tragedy of teen driver crashes, according to new research by AAA, NHTSA and the Insurance institute for Highway Safety, will be reduced as a result of this law. There will be fewer opportunities for risk-taking and showing off in vehicles driven by new licensees,” added Newbacher.

With car crashes being the leading cause of death for teenagers, AAA set an ambitious goal in 1997 to pass GDL laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
AAA’s legislative efforts have helped save lives by requiring teens to get more supervised behind-the-wheel driving experience and phased-in driving privileges during low-risk times until a full license is granted.

Ohio’s GDL laws are now more comprehensive. AAA, in cooperation with the Ohio Teen Driver Coalition, focused on strengthening Ohio’s GDL law through Sub HB 343, sponsored by Rep. Tom Raga, and championed by Senator Gary Cates.

The new law will require the following:

  • Adds a passenger limit (no more than one non-family member) for 16-year-olds;
  • Extends the night-time driving limitation to midnight to 6 a.m. for 16-year-olds (with an exception for work with note from employer)
  • Requires children between 4 and 15 years of age to be restrained in either an approved child restraint system or in a seat belt.

The Ohio Teen Driver Coalition includes the family of Ray and Debbie Sanderbeck, Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety; Akron Children’s Hospital; Association of Ohio Health Commissioners; Caring Ladies Increasing Community Knowledge (CLICK); Columbus Children’s Hospital; DaimlerChrysler Corporation; Ohio Children’s Hospital Association; the National Safety Council, Central Ohio and Youngstown Chapters; Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Ohio Chapter; Ohio Conference of AAA Clubs; the Ohio Department of Public Safety; the Ohio Insurance Institute; Ohio State Highway Patrol; Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital of Cleveland; Think First Injury Prevention; Police Officer’s Safety Council of Summit County, and the Tri-State Trauma Coalition.

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Ohio Teen Driver Coalition - Working to Strengthen Ohio's Teen Driving Laws