Ohio Wants To Replace Driving Instructors With An App

Image: Ohio Traffic Safety Office
Image: Ohio Traffic Safety Office

Ohio-based Grange Insurance is developing a new driver training app which can turn any adult 21 years and older into an untrained and uncertified, but still allegedly capable, driving instructor. And the Ohio legislature is rolling out the red carpet for the app to become a legal replacement for time in a car with a real instructor. As it stands, students have to spend eight hours of in-car instruction, and the instructor providing those lessons has to have accumulated 60 hours of training on the process. If that already-dismal driver education system were to be replaced by an application on the don’t-be-alone-with-your-thoughts rectangle, I have some concerns.

According to reporting from Columbus, Ohio newsroom NBC 4i:

House Bill 425, sponsored by Representatives Roy Klopfenstein (R-Haviland) and Darrell Kick (R-Loudonville) and Senate Bill 218, sponsored by Senator Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) aim to do just that. The two identical bills would allow an eligible adult, 21 or over, to “act in lieu of a driver training instructor while using an authorized electronic device or application.”


Ohio’s driver education system hasn’t been updated in 25 years, and if you’ve ever driven through the state, that seems to check out. With driving standards seemingly falling extremely short in every state in the nation, Ohio’s drivers are similarly inattentive, and many blatantly and flagrantly flaunt the existing road laws they did commit to memory. Reducing the standards for driving education will only serve to increase the danger of our roadways. While it seems imperative that Ohio driving education receives a series of updates and moves to incorporate technology and better standards, this doesn’t seem to be the right way to go about it.

Rep. Klopfenstein claims that this move is merely an attempt to alleviate waiting lists for students trying to get driver education, as the state is lacking certified instructors.

“There’s a back log in the ability for new drivers to get their driver’s education,” he said. “To say this is to replace deriving education schools? No. It’s to enhance it, make it better.”

“Concern,” Manger of Driver Education and Operations for AAA Mike Belcuore said. “That was my first reaction.

Show me data, show me data that students are going to be safe,” he continued. “You’re asking for a parent, who is already probably nervous having their kid drive a car, to use an app to help them drive the car. Their focus isn’t going to be totally on the road.”

“I think there is a place for an app like this to develop and help and aide in training. But my big worry is—it doesn’t replace a certified instructor.”

Under the bills, the Ohio Department of Public Safety would create a rulebook to establish the kinds of requirements necessary to implement this new app-based instruction. The app itself would need to pass muster with ODPS in order to reach the wider market and act as a stand in for in-person teaching.

The House bill awaits its first committee hearings, while the state Senate has already fast-tracked this bill to committee.

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