Statement of purpose The on-road examination (ORE) for licensure marks the transition from supervised to unsupervised driving, but also to a driver’s highest lifetime crash risk. The period pre- and post- licensure has been studied, yet the point of licensure itself is less documented. We describe license examination outcomes in relation to applicant age, sex, length of learner permit and completion of driver training.
Methods/Approach We utilized unique access to the State of Ohio’s de-identified administrative licensing data. We examined all drivers under the age of 25 who attempted the on-road examination (ORE) for the first time across the state of Ohio in 2018. This dataset contained age at the ORE, sex, an indication of completed driver training (mandatory for those under 18 years), and ORE outcomes. We derived length of learner permit and categorical age groups to examine the impact of age-defined driver training regulations.
Results Applicants aged 16 and 17 spent 6 and 9 months (respectively) in the learner permit, on average. Applicants aged 18 years had a shorter learner period and only 27% completed driver training before attempting the ORE. Fail rates were lowest for the youngest applicants, with a linear increase in fail rates with increasing age. About 40% of applicants aged 18+ years failed the ORE at first attempt, compared to only 23% of those younger than 18 years.
Conclusions Older applicants without complete training are more likely to fail. Almost no applicants finished training before attempting the ORE if they were older than the age set by regulation, which strongly indicates that participation in driver training is driven by statute.
Significance These results should be considered when states contemplate policy that mandates driver training. Future work that relates license examination performance and driver training to crash outcomes will determine their impact on young driver safety.
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