Nearly every American will one day obtain a driver’s license. It seems an almost inevitable right of passage. While there is some evidence that drivers are delaying getting licensed, it doesn’t mean that they won’t.
Tougher licensing requirements for first-time drivers under the age of 18 is cited among the reasons for putting off the acquisition of a drivers license into adulthood. In some states, holding out to age 18 allows an individual to get licensed without needing to provide proof of practice driving and may only be asked to complete minimal, if any, driver training. Until recently, the state of Ohio required no documented preparation and individuals over the age of 18 could obtain a license solely by passing a written and driving test. Drivers who failed the tests on the first attempt were given unlimited future attempts until they were able to pass.
Why Shouldn’t Things Be That Easy?
Why shouldn’t an individual that has 70% multiple-choice mastery of street signs and basic driving law and can drive relatively mistake free with a trooper in their car for less than half an hour be handed a license? Safe driving requires the ability to react to situations other than those found on the closed circuit of a driving test. What’s more, will this new driver maintain the same focus he or she had as they did when driving with a DPS employee in the front seat with them? If the driver has spent little time behind the wheel save for the few minutes of their driving test, the hopes that they can react safely to unexpected situations in the driving environment are slim.
These are the reasons why most states require first-time drivers to submit to driving instruction and to complete supervised practice hours. The mechanics of making a car stop and go and turn are relatively easy to master, but extending those skills into the ever-changing dynamics of the driving environment takes practice. It is still a curiosity that most states have different standards for adult and teen drivers. Is one untrained and unpracticed driver better than another simply by virtue of having had more birthdays?
Ohio’s Step is Small, but at Least It’s in the Right Direction
As was mentioned earlier, Ohio ranks among states with the lowest requirements for pre-licensing preparation and the new law that has just recently gone into effect does it represent a monumental shift. The new legislation does require a first-time adult driver who fails the driving test to take a four-hour drivers ed course. This move appears to be more punitive than profitable, but at least it pays lip service to the idea that Ohio legislators want the roads of their state to be populated by more competent drivers.
Ohio drivers education instructors applaud the new legislation as they see the results of poorly trained drivers on the roadway every day. Charlie Allen, an instructor at the Columbus Driving Academy opined that this law was a long time coming and is a step in the right direction. Ohioans of all ages, licensed or not, should agree. Better prepared drivers can mean nothing but improved safety for all residents of the state.