(The Center Square) – More and more Ohio teenagers wait until their 18th birthday to get their driver’s license, and the state plans to spend $4.5 million in taxpayer funds to try and change that.
Gov. Mike DeWine announced 34 grants through the Creating Opportunities for Driver Education program to increase driver training capacity at nearly 100 locations around the state.
The money – which can be used for training vehicles, instructor salaries, online education and administrative costs – goes to current and prospective private driver training businesses, educational service centers, school districts and career technical schools.
“We know many teens in Ohio are waiting until they are 18 to get a driver’s license either because they can’t afford training, they do not have a local driving school, or the wait list for training is too long,” said Andy Wilson, Ohio Department of Public Safety director. “The CODE Grant program is not intended to replace current driver training schools, but to increase capacity in an overburdened system and fill training gaps across the state.”
The original program called for $4 million in grants, but the General Assembly increased it to $500,000 in response to a high number of qualified applications. Grants were awarded based on available funding and community need.
“Ohio’s driver training programs help young drivers develop responsible road habits, while also laying the foundation for a lifetime of safe and confident driving,” DeWine said. “More students in underserved areas will now have access to this vital training, allowing them to contribute to a safer, more informed generation of drivers.”
Ohio 16- and 17-year-olds must take driver training to get a license. The training includes 24 hours of classroom instruction, eight hours of driving with an instructor and 50 hours of driving with a parent or guardian.