Pennsylvania bill, law cover efforts to improve road safety

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Pennsylvania state lawmakers are taking actions and continue to look at ways to improve safety on the state’s roadways.

A new state law is intended to strengthen the state’s existing “Steer Clear” law.

Since 2001, all drivers in the state are required to slow down and to move into a lane not adjacent to an emergency response area anytime an emergency vehicle has its lights flashing and where road crews or emergency personnel have lighted flares, posted signs or tried to warn travelers. The maneuver is required when possible.

If motorists are unable to move over because of traffic or other conditions, they must reduce their speed.

Offenders face fines up to $250.

Despite the state’s efforts to reduce incidents in the affected areas, Sen. John Rafferty Jr., R-Chester, said the number of occurrences have continued to increase dramatically.

He cited numbers from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation that show violations of the law increased by more than 85 percent from 2013 to 2015.

The new law keeps the $250 fines for first offenders. The fine for repeat offenders, however, will double to $500. Subsequent offenses would result in $1,000 fines.

In addition, SB288 includes a 90-day license suspension for a third or subsequent offense. The license suspension would also be applied to any incident that results in serious bodily injury to or death of another person.

“This law is being strengthened to coincide with the seriousness of each violation to help protect law enforcement, tow truck operators, highway workers and other emergency personnel who put themselves in harm’s way,” Rafferty said.

The new law is now in effect.

Passengers rendering aid
The Senate Transportation Committee has advanced another bill that covers the duty of passengers in a vehicle to render aid to anyone injured in a wreck.

Pennsylvania law now requires passengers to provide aid to an injured person if the driver is physically unable to do so.

Sponsored by Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Lycoming, the bill would require passengers to contact emergency personnel and render “reasonable assistance” in cases where drivers “refuse” or “neglect” to offer aid.

Drivers found to be in violation of the rule would face up to one year behind bars. Passengers would face up to 90 days in jail.

Yaw’s bill, SB145, awaits further consideration in the Senate.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Pennsylvania, click here.

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