Ohio student drivers might no longer have to practice with licensed driving instructors.

A bill in the House of Representatives would replace the eight hours of driving with a certified instructor with an app as long as a parent is in the car.

“Current law prohibits parents from providing eight hours of in-car instruction,” said Rep. Darrell Kick, R-Loudonville. “This legislation will change this prevision to allow it if the parents are using an electronic education device or application approved by the Department of Public Safety.”

Driving students must have 24 hours of classroom instruction, 50 hours of parent coaching and eight hours of in-car driving with a licensed instructor. The total cost can generally be upward of $300.

Kick and cosponsor Roy Klopfenstein, R-Haviland, said new technology is being developed to help with the parent coaching and the instructor training. The app would check if the correct number of practice hours is done, give advice on improving driving skills, and assess how well the skills are mastered.

The two said the software is expected to be able to be used on a smartphone and through a car’s computer system and would reduce costs for families.

“This change to driving instruction is completely permissive, and if any safety concerns arise, DPS maintains the ability to conduct evaluations of the application and would have the authority to approve or deny any application,” Klopfenstein said.

House Bill 425 has yet to be assigned to a committee. A companion bill, Senate Bill 218, also awaits committee action.

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