Concern about hit-and-run incidents on Pennsylvania roadways has spurred calls for action at the statehouse.
One House bill would put responsibility on passengers of vehicles that flee the scene of traffic incidents. Passengers would be regarded as legally responsible as the driver of the vehicle for reporting the incident to authorities.
Rep. Tina Pickett, R-Bradford, said leaving the scene of an accident without contacting police is unconscionable.
“It is the intent of this legislation to hold equally accountable those passengers who, by their presence in the vehicle, are involved in and knowingly witness a hit-and-run accident … yet decline to report the accident to authorities,” Pickett wrote in a memo to state lawmakers about the bill.
The standard would be applied for incidents that involve serious injury or death.
Penalties for passengers who fail to report hit-and-run incidents would be the same as those imposed against the offending driver. Specifically, offenders would face at least 90 days in jail for incidents that result in serious bodily injury. A minimum fine of $1,000 also would be applied.
Offenders would face at least one year behind bars and a minimum $2,500 fine for incidents that result in death.
The bill, HB279, is in the House Transportation Committee.
A separate, two-bill package in the Senate Transportation Committee would set up a hit-and-run advisory alert system.
Sponsored by Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Philadelphia, SB360 would require law enforcement to alert vehicle repair facilities statewide of serious hit-and-run incidents. The alerts would be distributed via a system developed by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
Information provided to repair facilities could include the vehicle make, model, year, and color, and extent of damage.
“The purpose of this legislation is to reduce hit-and-run accidents and enable quick identification and apprehension of motorists who flee the scene of an accident in which serious bodily injury or death result,” Williams wrote.
The second bill, SB359, would expand the state’s Amber Alert system to include hit-and-run advisory alerts.
Similar notification rules are in place in states that include California, Colorado, Maryland and Nevada.
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