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Pennsylvania Graduated License Program Aimed at Saving Teen Lives

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports automobile accidents are the number one cause of death for teens. Last month we urged teenagers in Pennsylvania to focus on driving carefully and following the laws when taking to the local highways to help prevent other teens from becoming a statistic.  Last Thursday, the USA Today, also hoping to get the message out that teen drivers are at risk on America’s highways, published a special report entitled “Making Teen Driving Safer.”

Although the USA Today points out that nationwide deaths for 16- and 17-year-old drivers declined between 2007 and 2010, the special report hones in on the fact that every day, an average of 11 teenagers die in car crashes in the United States.  The teen driving section is, in part, sponsored by Allstate Insurance that is sponsoring the “Save11” campaign to encourage Congress to pass the STANDUP Act.

The Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection (STANDUP) Act, according to the Save11 Facebook page, is a national law currently awaiting Congressional approval. It would require states to pass and enforce minimum standards for Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) laws.

According to the USA Today, all 50 states have some form of GDL law, although the regulations and requirements vary.  In Pennsylvania, teens must be 16 years old before applying for a learners permit.  Most states only require an age of 15 years old.  Prior to getting the restricted license, a PA teen must wait six months, have 65 hours of supervised driving time and be 16.5-years-old.  The restrictions limit the teen from driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. and to carrying no more than one passenger younger than 18. (Family members are an exception.)  The restrictions may be lifted on the drivers 17th birthday, assuming the conditions are met.

The GDL program was tightened up in 2010 when Governor Tom Corbett signed into law a bill aiming “to reduce the amount of fatal car accidents involving teen drivers.”  The bill established a primary offense law requiring everyone under the age of 18 to be properly restrained.  It also increased the instructional hours from 50 to 65 and restricted the number of passengers under 18-years-old to one, and after six months, to three until the teen is 18.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reports there were 57 car crash deaths in accidents in 2010 that involved a 16- or 17-year-old driver.  This number is 43% higher than 2009.  Further, over half of the teen driver and passenger deaths were caused by the drivers not wearing a seatbelt.

“Inexperienced teen drivers are prone to peer pressure, take risks, tend not to wear seat belts, attempt to multi-task behind the wheel and are increasingly distracted by young passengers.  We believe this new legislation will result in fewer teen crashes and ultimately save lives,” said Ronald W. Kosh, VP of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic upon Corbett signing the bill.

Our Pennsylvania car accident attorneys applaud the government for focusing on teen driving laws and regulations.  Keeping our younger generation safe behind the wheel is critical.  We encourage teens and their parents to follow the law and to drive safely and defensively.

Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys is a Pennsylvania accident and injury law firm that represents car accident victims and their families throughout the state of Pennsylvania and the Northeast, including those injured in accidents that involve speeding, distracted driving, drunk driving, fatigued driving, aggressive driving and careless driving in hazardous weather conditions. The Pennsylvania personal injury law firm’s additional practice areas include trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents, medical malpractice, defective products, toxic chemicals, workplace injuries, nursing home litigation and other serious accidents.

To contact Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys, use the firm’s online contact form.

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