Pennsylvania bill aims to improve road safety

| Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A bill on the governor’s desk is intended to increase safety on Pennsylvania roadways by applying tougher rules on the state’s most inexperienced drivers.

The House voted 188-6 to approve Senate changes to a bill to limit the number of passengers in vehicles operated by new teenage drivers. The vote cleared the way for HB9 to move to Gov. Tom Corbett’s desk for his expected signature.

For the first six months behind the wheel, teen drivers without a parent present would be allowed to carry only one friend under age 18 – other than family. Once the restriction period ends for junior drivers, he or she could carry up to three non-family passengers under 18.

Rep. Kathy Watson, R-Bucks, said her bill addresses many of the key components needed to reduce serious crashes.

“It represents a coordinated effort to see that our teens are safe on the highway, that parents are given the support they need and the tools they need to keep teens, their passengers and other motorists safe,” Watson said in a statement.

Also included in the bill is a stricter seat-belt rule for affected drivers. Failure to buckle up by anyone in the vehicle under age 18 would be a primary offense, meaning police would not need another reason to pull them over.

Another provision calls for teens with learner’s permits to spend more time practicing before obtaining full licensing privileges.

Existing state law requires a permit holder to complete 50 hours of behind-the-wheel training to get a junior license. The bill would boost the required practice time to 65 hours. Included is a requirement for five hours of driving in bad weather and 10 hours of nighttime driving.

If signed into law, the new rules would take effect in 60 days.

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

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