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(Columbus) – More than half-a-million dollars in grants awarded by the State of Ohio will help more teenagers in low-income families get access to free driver training. Two of those grants are going to programs within Pickaway and Highland counties.
The grants are being awarded through Governor DeWine’s Drive to Succeed Scholarship Program and Youthful Driver Safety Fund.
Twenty-five local governmental agencies will receive a total of $575,000 as part of the new Drive to Succeed Scholarship Program. Governor DeWine launched this community-based teen driver training scholarship program in December 2022. The program was developed to allow eligible teenage drivers to attend driver training classes at no cost to their families.
“Teen driver training courses can cost anywhere from $300 to $600 or more, which can be a huge barrier for some families,” said Governor DeWine. “By increasing accessibility to this important training for teenage drivers, we can better ensure their safety, the safety of their passengers, and the safety of others on the road.”
The 25 agencies below will each receive funding to use toward awarding scholarships.
“Every year, traffic crashes claim hundreds of lives in Ohio, and educating our youngest drivers is an important step toward preventing crashes,” said Andy Wilson, director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety. “We are proud that these grants will directly support hundreds of young people who otherwise wouldn’t have had the means to complete driver education and gain the experience needed to become safer drivers.”
In addition to the Drive to Succeed grant awards, Governor DeWine awarded a total of $50,000 from the Youthful Driver Safety Fund to five juvenile courts in Ohio. The grants will allow the courts to provide juvenile traffic offenders with advanced behind-the-wheel training to improve driving skills and reduce fatal car crashes involving teens.
Governor DeWine launched the Youthful Driver Safety Fund in 2020. The courts listed below will each receive $10,000 to offer advanced driver training to juvenile traffic offenders at no cost to their families.
According to research by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, new drivers under the age of 18 who complete the mandatory driver education under Ohio’s Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) requirements were less likely to crash than drivers licensed at age 18 who are exempt from these requirements. Ohio is one of only a handful of states with comprehensive licensing requirements for juvenile drivers 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.
Both grant programs are administered by the Ohio Traffic Safety Office (OTSO) within the Ohio Department of Public Safety. OTSO received overwhelming interest in the Drive to Succeed Scholarship Program, with over 70 grant applications submitted by agencies across the state.
“The incredible number of initial grant program applications demonstrates the enormous demand in Ohio for quality driver training programs,” said OTSO Director Emily Davidson. “Given the many benefits of earlier licensure for youthful drivers, OTSO strives for more equity in access to driver training.”
OTSO awarded grants based on the amount of funding available, the total number of proposals submitted, and the need of the community determined by area of the state, poverty level, and population.