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Ohio's Young Driver Protection Bill May Save Lives, Reduce Insurance Costs

Ohio's Young Driver Protection Bill May Save Lives, Reduce Insurance Costs
Pablo Hidalgo | Dreamstime

Tuesday, 19 December 2017 09:21 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Parents nationwide have been cautioned about the dangers of letting their teens text or have friends in the car while driving, and with good reason. Approximately 391,000 people were injured in 2015 due to vehicular accidents that involved a distracted driver.

However, Ohio is currently considering a bill that would address two less-discussed risks for teen drivers--their relative inexperience behind the wheel and driving at night.

The state’s Young Driver Protection Bill, in its current form, would extend the length of time teen drivers must have a permit before they can be licensed, and restrict the hours of the day in which teens are permitted to drive by themselves. Given that driving accidents are the primary cause of death for teenagers, accounting for over a third of such tragedies, this bill could have a significant impact on teen safety. In addition, it has the potential to reduce the significant burden of teen auto insurance costs on parents, by reducing the likelihood of accidents.

Importance of Driver Experience

Developing a new skill requires practice and, once you’ve spent enough hours doing something, even the most complex of maneuvers can become automatic. The so-called 10,000 Hour Rule has been fairly disputed, and you obviously don’t need to be a professional-caliber driver in order to safely operate a vehicle. But it’s reasonable to assume a person would require several months of consistent practice in order to perform a task as complex as driving a car at 60 miles per hour, while also checking for other vehicles, animals and ice on the road.

That reality is certainly reflected in the insurance rates offered to teens and inexperienced drivers. A 17-year old driver’s auto insurance rates are, on average, 511% greater than those of a 45-year old adult. And an adult with less than a year of driving experience would have to pay rates that are 214% higher than someone the same age that had been driving since they were a teen. However, Ohio teens are required only to complete 50 hours of supervised driving in order to obtain a probationary license.

By doubling the time teens have on the road with a permit, from 6 months to 12 months, Ohio’s bill aims to increase each young driver’s practice time, as well as the number and range of driving situations they can learn by experiencing. For example, while it isn’t a critical issue in every state, in Ohio drivers must understand how to handle a car in winter, when roads are icy and slick. Having these experiences while supervised, along with more time to ingest the basics of operating a vehicle, is expected to reduce teen accidents.

Risks of Night Driving

Arguably, nighttime driving restrictions are the most important part of the Young Driver Protection Bill. The legislation would require teens to be supervised when operating a vehicle after 9 p.m., rather than after 12 a.m., which is the current restriction.

Restricting driving in the dark is particularly critical, since nearly a third of fatal accidents involving teen drivers occur at night, and more than half (57%) occur before midnight. And although the number of teen deaths due to car accidents has dropped dramatically over the past few decades, new drivers are still three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than are experienced adults.

Through supervised night driving and increased time with a permit, Ohio’s bill has been projected to reduce teen deaths from car accidents by 13%, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Not only are roads expected to be more safe, both for teens and their fellow drivers, but insurance rates in the state may decline as well. Ohio drivers pay $1,236 per year, on average, for auto insurance, and that figure is affected by accident rates and losses throughout the state. As fewer teens are involved in accidents, the risk of driving should decline for everyone on the road, which should in turn reduce claims to insurers.

Maxime Rieman is Product Manager at ValuePenguin. Educating and assisting shoppers about financial products has been Rieman's focus, which led her to joining ValuePenguin, a consumer research and advice company based in New York. Previously, she was product marketing director at CoverWallet and launched the personal insurance team at NerdWallet.

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Ohio's Young Driver Protection Bill May Save Lives, Reduce Insurance Costs
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Tuesday, 19 December 2017 09:21 PM
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