(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced today expanded access to teen driver training for low-income Ohio families through the new “Drive to Succeed” scholarship program.
Administered by the Ohio Traffic Safety Office (OTSO) and available via grants to local governmental agencies, teens selected for a scholarship by grantee agencies would attend an eligible Ohio-approved driving school in their area at little to no cost.
Funding to establish these community-based scholarships will be awarded by OTSO to local agencies through a competitive grant process. Local government agencies, such as police departments, sheriffs’ offices, health departments, and others may apply for funding. The proposing agency must be in an area with a population of 5,000 or more.
“The importance of driver training cannot be overstated, especially for our young drivers,” said Governor DeWine. “This new program aims to remove the financial barrier that may prevent some teens from enrolling in driver education.”
Data shows that young drivers under age 24 are involved in 31% of all crashes in Ohio. Youth-related fatal crashes have been steadily rising over the past three years with 296 fatalities in 2021 accounting for almost 24% of all fatal crashes.
For the first time in Ohio, recent research has shown that new drivers under age 18 who complete the mandatory driver education under Ohio’s Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) restrictions were less likely to crash than drivers licensed at age 18 who are exempt from these requirements. Ohio is one of only 15 states with comprehensive licensing requirements that include behind-the-wheel training at a licensed driving school, in addition to classroom or online instruction, parent-supervised practice driving, and learner permit holding periods.
Agencies that wish to receive a grant must submit their proposals before Jan. 21, 2023. The complete grant proposal and guidelines can be found online at Grants/Federal Programs | Ohio Traffic Safety Office.
This announcement follows a number of traffic safety initiatives for young drivers announced by Governor DeWine, including the creation of the Ohio Traffic Safety Council that focuses on youthful driving as one of the four current priority areas. Most recently, the Governor announced new localized traffic safety bulletins available online and to driving schools to help better prepare teens for driving.