With a little less than three months remaining until the
fall elections, state lawmakers in Pennsylvania could still discuss a handful
of highway safety-related bills that can be considered up to the end of the
regular session in late November.
bill is aimed at truck drivers who travel the state during times when wintry
precipitation is prevalent.
by Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Northampton, the bill would fine drivers who fail to
clear snow and ice off their vehicles.
said she introduced the bill last fall because she is tired of people who don’t
clean off chunks of the wintertime precipitation before they head out on the
bill would permit police to pull over drivers whose vehicles are not cleared of
snow and ice. Violators would face a fine of between $25 and $75.
would increase to between $500 and $1,500 for large trucks if a build-up led to
an injury or property damage. For cars that caused damage or injury the
fine would range from $200 to $1,000.
provision would not apply to snow or ice that accumulated on a vehicle while it
has been in motion.
2005 Christmas death of a woman driving on U.S. 209 in Nesquehoning, PA, brought attention to Boscola’s bill. Christine Lambert, 51, of Palmer Township, PA, was killed when ice fell off the roof of a tractor-trailer, the Pocono Record reported. The ice crashed through her vehicle’s window, killing her instantly.
Lambert’s husband and son were hurt.
Another highway safety bill was introduced early this summer
at the urging of Gov. Ed Rendell. The effort would affect people who have
become accustomed to the convenience and effectiveness of communicating by cell
Sponsored by Rep. Josh Shapiro, D-Montgomery, the bill would
ban hand-held cell phone use while driving in the state. Talking on a phone
equipped with a “hands-free” device would still be permitted.
Shapiro said restrictions are needed in Pennsylvania because
the use of hand-held cell phones contributed to nearly 1,200 crashes in the
state in 2004.
The measure would make it a primary offense to drive while using
a hand-held phone. Violators would be fined $250. Emergency calls would be
Currently, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York have the
only statewide laws restricting cell phone use in vehicles. No state prohibits
would all change under a separate effort offered by Rep. Robert Flick,
is pushing a bill that would forbid drivers from talking on cell phones – even
hands-free devices – while behind the wheel.
would face $10 fines. Young drivers would face up to $300 fines or community
service. As is the case with Shapiro’s bill, emergency calls would be exempted.
all drivers are subject to the cell phone restrictions and bans, another bill
focuses its attention on teen drivers.
by Rep. Katharine Watson, R-Bucks, the bill would restrict drivers 16 and 17
years old to one passenger under 18 at a time. Family members would be exempted
from the passenger restriction.
or local police also would be given authority to pull over young drivers for
not wearing a seat belt. Pennsylvania law now requires offenders to be pulled
over for another offense, such as speeding, before they could be ticketed for
failure to buckle up.
other provision in the bill would require aspiring drivers to spend more time
practicing. Existing state law requires a permit holder to complete 50 hours of
behind-the-wheel training, have their learner’s permit for six months before
taking a driver’s exam and have an adult at least 21 years old with them in a
bill would boost the training time to 65 hours. It would include 10 hours of
nighttime training and five hours of experience driving during inclement
also is addressed in a bill to keep repeat drunken drivers off the road.
by Rep. Tom Gannon, R-Delaware, the measure proposes mandatory jail time for
habitual drunken drivers and the forfeiture of vehicle involved. Offenders
would face a minimum two-year sentence.
drivers found guilty of driving while impaired face misdemeanor charges that
increase with added offenses.
bill would allow drivers found guilty of multiple offenses or with high
blood-alcohol levels to face felony charges.
bill – SB902 – is in the Senate Transportation Committee. Shapiro’s bill,
HB2821; Flick’s bill, HB2745; and Watson’s bill, HB2684; are in the House
Transportation Committee. Gannon’s bill – HB2598 – is in the House Judiciary