Mom of teen killed in car crash advocates for state law toughening learner’s permit requirements

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — A proposal requiring teenage drivers in Ohio to have a learner’s permit for an entire year is making progress.

It just got approval from a House committee at the statehouse and will eventually go under review in the House.

“You know kids don’t realize they can lose their life in a minute, and the impact, come on, I don`t have my child anymore. My husband and I live a very different life than what we did before,” said Stella Mayher of Strongsville.

Mayher has been a powerful advocate for stricter guidelines for teenage drivers since she lost her 16-year-old daughter Kailee in 2017.

She died after the 16-year-old driver of the car she was in careened off the road and slammed into a tree.

Under the legislation, drivers would still be able to get a temporary permit at 15 and a half years old, but would have to spend an entire year behind the wheel before getting their actual license. So they would be 16 and a half years old.

“It’s all I can do is hope that another parent doesn’t feel the way my husband and I feel today,” she said.

The bill is sponsored by two Ohio lawmakers, whose children were injured in accidents as teens.

The sponsors said the legislation has the backing of AAA and parent groups, concerned that accidents involving teenage drivers are increasing.

“We’re asking young drivers to have a little more time behind the wheel, a little more maturity by the time they’re driving all by themselves and we hope this bill achieves that,” said State Rep. Michael Sheehy.

The legislation would also limit nighttime driving. Currently, probationary drivers can be on the road until midnight. Instead, they would not be allowed to drive after 10 p.m., unless they have driving privileges for work, school or a church event.

“My daughter died at 10:30 at night and maybe if there was a restriction in place, she would still alive today,” said Mayher.

She is among those grieving parents who are hopeful that the bill will one day become law.

“This law is very near and dear to me, I would like for it to be called ‘Kailee`s Law’, just so she could be the face of safety for other children. I think once you put a name to a law, it gives it a bit more purpose and maybe kids might pay attention,” she said.

Critics of the bill worry it will encourage more teen drivers to wait until they’re 18 to get their license. They argue that they could then get a license without any formal training, while a 16-year-old would need a full year of training.

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