The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) came together today with Penn State Health at their Life Lion Hangar to highlight driver safety laws and urge motorists to put safety first.
According to early estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), national traffic fatalities in the first nine months of 2021 rose approximately 12 percent over 2020. In Pennsylvania, 2021 preliminary data shows deaths on our roadways increased by as much as 10 percent, including increases in fatalities in speeding crashes, distracted driving crashes, crashes involving a 16- or 17-year-old driver, as well as unrestrained fatalities.
Pennsylvania’s Highway Safety Law Awareness Week is next week, February 20-26, and this year features safety laws that impact crashes and fatalities each year.
Distracted Driving: Pennsylvania’s Texting-While-Driving Ban prohibits as a primary offense any driver from using an Interactive Wireless Communication Device (IWCD) to send, read or write a text-based communication while his or her vehicle is in motion.
Seat Belts: Pennsylvania law requires any occupant younger than 18 to buckle up when riding in a vehicle, as well as drivers and front-seat passengers. Children under the age of two must be secured in a rear-facing car seat, and children under the age of four must be restrained in an approved child safety seat. Children must ride in a booster seat until their eighth birthday.
Speeding: Pennsylvania law on speed restrictions requires motorists to drive at reasonable and prudent speeds for the current conditions. Drivers must drive at a safe and appropriate speed when approaching and crossing intersections, railroad grade crossings, when approaching and going around a curve, while approaching a hill crest, when traveling upon any narrow or winding roadway, and when special hazards exist with respect to pedestrians, other traffic, or weather or highway conditions. This law is sometimes called the “assured clear distance” rule because it requires motorists to operate at a speed at which they can stop within an “assured clear distance.” Drivers may be ticketed for rear-ending another vehicle because they violated this law by not stopping within the following distance they allowed.
Pennsylvania’s Young Driver Law: Pennsylvania licenses young drivers through a three-stage program, reflecting the driver’s gradual progression in skill, experience, and decision-making ability. The law has proven effective in reducing crashes and fatalities for 16- and 17-year-olds.
“In 2021, Life Lion responded to more than 1,950 motor vehicle crashes across central Pennsylvania, many of which involved traumatic injuries that resulted in transport to a hospital for further treatment,” said Keith McMinn, director of Penn State Health Life Lion Services. “Whether by ground or air, our first responders across the health system and Life Lion EMS are always prepared to provide high-quality, timely care – but many of these accidents are preventable. We encourage drivers buckle up and stay alert because this is one statistic we would like to see decrease.”
The U.S. Department of Transportation recently released their new comprehensive National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS), a roadmap for addressing roadway fatalities and serious injuries through the adoption of a “Safe System Approach.” Pennsylvania is in the process of updating the state strategy for reducing traffic deaths, which addresses safety across multiple contributing factors similar to the new national strategy. The updated 2022 Pennsylvania Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) – anticipated to be finalized later this month – will incorporate Safe System thoughts and practices.
For more information on PennDOT’s highway safety efforts visit, www.PennDOT.gov/safety. For more information on the Pennsylvania State Police, visit psp.pa.gov.
PennDOT’s media center offers social-media-sized graphics highlighting topics such as seat belts, impaired driving, and distracted driving for organizations, community groups, or others who share safety information with their stakeholders.
The public can join the discussion on social media using the hashtags #BeSafePA and #PATrafficLaw.
The Seatbelt Safety Program addresses highway safety issues including occupant protection, DUI awareness, safe vehicle, safe driving, aggressive driving safe communities and rail-highway crossing safety.
It’s a jungle out there. As traffic increases and lives get busier, it’s no wonder that dangerous driving behaviors are on the rise. Motorists have named aggressive driving – speeding, tailgating, red-light running and other dangerous behaviors – as the number one threat to highway safety. While you are driving…
As a reminder, with all the roadway construction in the area, please remember to drive safely in these work zones. Please reduce your speed and turn on your headlights. It is necessary for drivers in vehicles with daytime running lights to turn on the headlights to activate their taillights. Fines for certain violations can be doubled in these active areas.
Pennsylvania also has a STEER CLEAR law, which means motorists are required to move to a lane that is not adjacent to the scene of an emergency response, police stop, or a tow truck picking up an abandoned vehicle. If drivers cannot move over because of traffic or other conditions, they must reduce their speed. The law applies any time an emergency vehicle has its lights flashing and where road crews or emergency personnel have lighted flares or posted signs. Failure to move over or slow down can result in a summary offense that carries a fine of up to $250. In addition, fines will be doubled for traffic violations occurring in these areas. If that violation leads to a worker being injured, a 90-day license suspension could result. Note that when police are not present, the law allows road workers and emergency responders to report violations by motorists. Law enforcement can issue citations based on these reports.
Drunk driving is simply not worth the risk. Not only do you risk killing yourself or someone else, but the trauma and financial costs of a crash or an arrest for impaired driving can be significant. Violators often face jail time, the loss of their driver’s license, higher insurance rates, attorney fees, time away from work, and dozens of other expenses.
Don’t take the chance. Drunk driving is a serious crime. Remember: Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest.