Beginning November 28, 2011 teen drivers will face tougher rules. H.B.-9, sponsored by Rep. Katharine Watson (R-Bucks), limits the number of teen passengers in a car operated by a teen driver to one person under the age of 18, the only exception being members of a teen driver’s immediate family.
Also included in H.B.-9 is an expansion of behind-the-wheel training from 50 to 65 hours, requires that 10 hours include nighttime and inclement weather driving, and primary enforcement of seat belts for teens and for booster seats. The primary enforcement allows police offices to pull over a vehicle for that violation without additional cause.
On Wednesday, the bill passed the General Assembly without debate and Governor Corbett is expected to sign the bill within the next 10 days.
Car crashes are the leading cause of death among 16 to 19-year-olds. “This age group’s fatality rate is four times that of adults,” said Ted Leonard, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania AAA Federation. “Inexperienced young drivers are prone to peer pressure, inclined to take risks, are distracted by young passengers and tempted to multi-task behind the wheel.” “It’s not only teen drivers, but their passengers and other drivers on the road who are at risk,” said Leonard. “That is why we strongly support this bill and urge Governor Corbett to quickly sign it into legislation”
Until yesterday, Pennsylvania was one of only seven states without the bill’s main provisions, although there is still one more barrier for Pennsylvania to cross; a ban on texting while driving. Efforts to ban texting while driving have yet to catch the attention of Pennsylvania legislature.
Rep. Josh Shapiro (D-Montgomery) has sponsored of a bill that would ban texting and the use of handheld cellphones while driving. Yesterday, Rep. Shapiro called attention to this issue during discussion of the teen-safety bill. Blaming the other party’s lawmakers, Rep. Shapiro said, “They continue to delay, and every minute they delay, another person is injured or, God forbid, killed.”
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