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About OTSO

Under the direction of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, the Ohio Traffic Safety Office oversees Ohio Driver Training, Motorcycle Ohio and Ohio’s Ignition Interlock program. OTSO is also responsible for administering federal highway safety funds for programs which are designed to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities on Ohio’s roadways.

Federal Grants

The Federal Highway Safety Act of 1966 directed the U.S. Department of Transportation to administer various highway safety programs. This grant program provides federal funds to eligible entities for projects such as traffic safety education, enforcement, and engineering. This program operates on a reimbursement basis and funds are used for highway safety support based on problem identification to reduce overall fatal and injury crashes.

The Ohio Traffic Safety Office (OTSO) administers the Section 402 State and Community grants, related National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awards and initiatives, and contracts for traffic safety activities. Competitive grant proposals are accepted and reviewed annually, with funds awarded to traffic safety projects that will have the greatest impact on reducing fatal crashes or that significantly improve traffic safety systems. Since partnerships are critical to the long-term success of a project effort, applicants are encouraged to develop broad-based support and commitment from officials and constituent groups toward addressing traffic safety concerns.

State agencies, local units of government, non-profit organizations, colleges, universities, educational service centers, hospitals, and churches within selected Ohio counties (based on the number of fatal crashes) can apply for NHTSA pass-through funding for projects related to various areas of highway safety. Eligible project areas are included in Ohio’s Highway Safety Plan.

Grant Priority Areas

Each grant proposal must focus on one or more of these priority program areas: restraint use, impaired driving, speed management, motorcycle safety, youthful drivers, distracted driving, traffic records, and engineering. In addition, competitive grant proposals must include an evaluation strategy that assesses the impact of proposed project activities on the selected priority areas. Based on the proposed strategies, each grant proposal must show how the effectiveness of the proposed activities will be measured. Each proposal is compared to the Countermeasures that Work to ensure projects selected for funding are evidence-based.

Ohio Driver Training

The Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) licenses driving schools as outlined in Ohio Revised Code Chapter 4508 Driver Training Schools, and inspects driving schools, including teen driver schools, driver training schools for those with disabilities and commercial driver license training schools to verify schools meet or exceed state standards.

ODPS also oversees the certification of remedial programs for Ohioans with traffic offenses and/or convictions. The available remedial programs serve adults and juveniles. For juvenile traffic offenders, there are two courses: one provides insight into changing unsafe driving behaviors, and the second course provides opportunities for juveniles to take an advanced skills course to further their comfortability with different strenuous driving environments.

Ohio Driver Training is also responsible for Ohio’s Distracted Driving Safety Course – a unique approach to combating distracted driving. The course is available for offenders who plead guilty or are convicted of a specific traffic violation while distracted. Offenders can take the 1-hour online course in lieu of paying a court fine of up to $150 for distracted driving.

Motorcycle Ohio

Motorcycle Ohio’s objective is to provide effective education programs to stakeholders while promoting awareness to other road users. Safety courses are offered for riders based on their skill levels and objectives at various training sites around the state.

Funded by motorcycle plate fees and class registrations, Motorcycle Ohio strives to offer affordable programs at just $50 per course. Students must have a validated motorcycle temporary permit, motorcycle license or endorsement before the first riding session. Upon successful completion of any course, the student will earn a 60-day Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) skill test waiver for a motorcycle license or endorsement. Courses begin as early as March and run through early November.

The division also manages the “Saved by the Helmet” award, which is given throughout the year to Ohioans who survive serious crashes while wearing a helmet. Recipients are nominated by an investigating officer or by someone with knowledge of the crash and are presented with a certificate of recognition and new replacement helmet at an informal award presentation. Motorcycle Ohio hopes that acknowledging riders who wear protective gear will help promote and increase awareness of the life-saving value of motorcycle helmets.