State falling behind in seat belt, motorcycle, teen driving, and DUI laws
Hundreds of lives could have been saved in Pennsylvania, according to the Advocates for Auto & Highway Safety, had the state instituted key legislation the group considers vital for protecting motorists. As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports, while the group says the state has improved compared to a few years ago-when it was considered to have some of the most dangerously inadequate traffic safety laws in the country-they say Pennsylvania still has “lethal gaps” in its laws that are costing lives on the state’s roads and highways. In particular, the group says Pennsylvania lawmakers need to focus on drunk driving, motorcycle, seat belt, and teen driving laws in order to make the roads safer.
Helmets and ignition interlocks
The report said it was particularly troubling that Pennsylvania repealed a motorcycle helmet law in 2003 that had been in place for decades. That repeal led to a dramatic increase in head-injury fatalities and hospitalizations among motorcyclists, says the University of Pittsburgh. The group is calling for the helmet requirement to be reinstated.
Additionally, the state has room to toughen its DUI laws. Under current Pennsylvania law, people are only required to install an ignition interlock device in their car if they have two or more DUI convictions. A number of states have made the devices mandatory for first-time offenders as well, which the group says has been scientifically proven to lead to dramatic reductions in DUI-related accidents.
Teen drivers and seat belts
Another problem with state law is that not wearing a seat belt is currently considered just a secondary offense, meaning police need to witness drivers committing some other offense before they can pull over those drivers for not wearing a seat belt, according to the Times Herald. The group says that in 2012 139 fewer people would have died in traffic accidents in Pennsylvania had seat belt use been at 100 percent.
Finally, the group wants the state to focus more on teen drivers. Drivers under the age of 18 should be prohibited from all cellphone use while driving, including hands-free devices and should not be allowed to drive unsupervised between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., according to the report. Under current Pennsylvania law, teen drivers are restricted from driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
It remains to be seen whether state lawmakers will continue to push for safer traffic laws. In the meantime, thousands of families continue to suffer the devastation that follows in the wake of a serious car accident.
When an accident happens because of another driver’s negligence, such as an accident caused by drunk driving or texting while behind the wheel, a personal injury attorney should be consulted. An experienced attorney can help ensure that in such situations the rights of accident victims are protected and that they get the help they need in receiving whatever compensation may be necessary during their recovery process.