Distracted driver fines may help pay for driver's ed in Ohio

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The state of Ohio is proposing more fines for distracted driving, with the money going to help subsidize driver's education courses for those who can't afford them.

The Columbus Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1uadaN0 ) reports that the Drive Toward a Safer Ohio initiative is part of the public safety agency's budget and includes changes to driver training, driver testing and driver safety.

One part of the plan proposed by the Ohio Department of Public Safety on Wednesday would allow courts to levy an additional fine for distracted driving, much like additional fines are allowed for speeding in a construction zone. The fines would help subsidize driver's education courses for those who can't afford them. There are no estimates of how much those fines would generate.

Another component of the proposal would allow first-time drivers who are 18 or older to skip the maneuverability and driving test and instead take a certified advance-driving course. Ohioans younger than 18 would still have to complete driver's education coursework, which includes classroom instruction, behind-the-wheel training and required driving hours with a parent or guardian.

Some defer the driving education because they can't afford it, said Public Safety Director John Born. Anyone in Ohio 18 or older can currently take their driver's test without taking the driver's education training.

"So what ends up happening is they become a new driver with zero skills or education," Born told the House Finance Committee Wednesday. "We want to provide them an avenue to get the driver education that they need."

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