Home Politics Proposed legislation takes aim at Ohio’s youth drivers

Proposed legislation takes aim at Ohio’s youth drivers

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In a rare occurrence, a newly proposed piece of state legislation has the capacity to, at the very least, spark languidly strewn-about political dialogue from study hall-confined teens across Ohio.

The bill being considered—Republican-sponsored H.B. 204—seeks to lower the amount of accidents involving underage drivers by imposing tougher curfew, passenger and seat belt laws.

Under the proposed legislation, 16- and 17-year-old drivers would be prohibited from transporting even one non-family member as passenger, unless that passenger is a licensed driver and at least 21 years of age.

“I’m not the type to get the state too much into people’s business,” said Republican Rep. Rick Perales, the primary sponsor of the bill, “but the roadways are inherent to all of us. The stats are overwhelming for fatalities involving 16- to 17- year- old drivers. I have a responsibility to them before they enter the roadway.”

Perales’s bill would reign in the teenage driving curfew from midnight to 10 p.m., as well as require any legal backseat passengers to wear a seatbelt at all times.

Critics of the bill say that it is simply not pragmatic enough to be effective in curtailing the culture of reckless driving habits that currently afflicts Ohio’s youth drivers.

Perales, however, asserts that the proposed legislation is similar to any other law with respect to the fact that the burden of compliance ultimately does not rest on him.

“It’s like most laws; people can choose to comply or not,” Perales said.

Perales also stated that he wanted the proposed legislation to catalyze debate, and that the bill could ultimately be modified.

“It’s not firm. It’s open to adjustment,” Perales said.

The bill will undoubtedly be met by criticism from Ohio adolescents who view the current passenger laws as decidedly over-restrictive.

According to statistics from the Ohio Department of Public Safety, 107,564 people were injured in automobile accidents in 2009, of which 11,123 were teenagers between the ages of 16-20.

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