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Ohio Department of Public Safety Announces New Traffic Safety Training Program Targeting Non-English Speakers in Ohio

The Ohio Traffic Safety Office (OTSO), a division of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, announced today that new educational resources are now available to various Ohio communities to help English language learners become licensed drivers.

The curriculum and train-the-trainer program is intended to help non-English speakers learn safe driving practices and prepare for the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) written and driving tests. It contains information about the requirements for obtaining an Ohio driver’s license, the importance of road signs and signals, and other basic road safety laws.

“Non-English speakers who are new to Ohio may not fully understand the rules of the road, increasing the risk of being involved in a crash,” said Ohio Department of Public Safety Director Andy Wilson. “Even the most basic driver education helps promote safe behaviors on our roads, which benefits all Ohio drivers.”

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A pilot program was first introduced at OTSO’s 2024 Ohio Traffic Safety Summit in Columbus and is now poised to roll out statewide. The training provides information that participants can share with English language learners or non-English speaking adults who want to learn to drive in Ohio. The trainings are conducted in English and the participants translate the materials to share them in their communities.

“Providing traffic safety education in multiple languages ​​helps remove some barriers for Ohio’s English language learners and integrate them into the community,” said Emily Davidson, OTSO Executive Director. “We hope this new training program can help create a safer and more inclusive environment for all residents.”

It is important to note that this curriculum is not a substitute for driver education, and those who present it in different language communities are not considered licensed driver education instructors in the state of Ohio. Teen drivers must still complete 24 hours of classroom instruction and 8 hours of behind-the-wheel training at a licensed driver education school. Adult drivers who fail the first attempt at the BMV driving test must complete the abbreviated adult program – which is 4 hours of classroom instruction and either 4 hours of behind-the-wheel training with a licensed instructor or 24 hours of driving practice with a licensed driver over the age of 21.

Resources are available at OTSO’s website for those interested in bringing this curriculum to their community. The curriculum outline, PowerPoint slides, resource guide and other educational aids are available free of charge to anyone who requests them.

This announcement follows a number of initiatives by OTSO to strengthen driver education, including almost $2.5 million in grants to fund driver education scholarships for eligible teenagers in 42 counties. Earlier this year, $4.5 million in funding was awarded through the new Creating Opportunities for Driver Education (CODE) Grant programs that support the expansion of driver education options in underserved areas.

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