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Post: Proposed bill in Ohio could allow teenagers to use app for driving instruction

Proposed bill in Ohio could allow teenagers to use app for driving instruction

When it comes to getting a driver’s license in Ohio, part of the process for teenagers includes eight hours in the car with a certified instructor.

There are bills in the State House and Senate that if passed, could give families the option to use an app instead. Now comes the challenge and the delicate balance of convenience versus safety.

Get ready for the start of a potential Driver’s Ed. controversy. Mike Price is the owner of Jack’s Driving School in Mason. He says it’ll be hard for an app to substitute for the important experience of a certified Driver’s Ed. instructor.

“For the state of Ohio, every instructor goes through at least 60 hours of training,” Price said.

But if one Ohio politician gets his way, Driver’s Ed., as we know it, would significantly change. State Rep. Roy Klopfenstein is co-sponsoring House Bill 425.

He says why not look at ways to improve. “If the driver’s ed schools were perfect. I don’t think we’d be having this discussion at all,” Klopfenstein said.

If passed, it would allow a licensed driver who’s 21 or older armed with a new app, to sit in the car with newbies who have gotten their learner’s permits, potentially taking the place of the eight hours of in car instruction.

Klopfenstein says, “Look at the airline industry. You know how they train pilots? It’s on simulators, it’s on apps, it’s on programs. Certainly, we can come up with an app to make better drivers.”

Klopfenstein represents a rural District 82 in the northwest corner of Ohio. He says there are many areas like his in the state, where families have to travel an hour an a half to the nearest driving school and face six months or more on waiting lists.

Mike Belcuore, the man who overseas Driver Education in Ohio for AAA says these driver’s Ed. deserts are a concern, but replacing certified car instructors with an app could be a bigger concern.

Belcuore says, “It is a requirement for the driving instructor to be in a car which has a passenger brake, an extra rearview mirror so they can see all around the car. So if things do go wrong, the instructor has the training and the ability to control the car. If this application is approved and it takes the place of driving school. I believe you’re going to have, I fear you’re going to have more crashes.”

Before getting a driver’s license in Ohio, you have to be 16, have a learner’s permit for at least six months, complete 50 hours of behind the wheel training that a parent has to verify with a signature and spend eight hours in car with an instructor. Our experts, AAA Mike and Instructor Mike both see that instructor part as the most important piece on the way to a driver’s license.

Mike Price says, “As far as training is being able to grab the steering wheel and do what we need to do with it to keep you on the straight and narrow here. But that comes with training and I’ll be honest it’s not something that parents can react that quickly.”

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