As summer approaches more teens are getting ready to hit the road whether it be for a summer job or just to hang out with friends. With more teens behind the wheel, PennDOT is reminding teens to drive safely, avoid distractions and “Just Drive.”
There have been almost 4,000 Pennsylvania car accidents involving distracted 16- and 17- year-olds behind the wheel during the past five years. Sadly, these crashes have resulted in 18 individuals losing their lives.
While texting and driving has received much attention, distractions involve any activity that takes a driver’s attention away from the operation of the vehicle. This includes activities such as eating, putting on makeup, or adjusting the radio or navigation system. Although distractions are a problem for all drivers, teens are at greater risk for distracted driving accidents because of their lack of experience behind the wheel.
Pennsylvania’s anti-texting law went into effect this past March. The law makes texting and driving a primary offense with a $50 fine. Another law that went into effect in Pennsylvania recently targets teens. Drivers under 18 are no longer allowed to transport more than one passenger under 18 for six months. There are exceptions for family members and if the teen is accompanied by a guardian. If the teen driver is not cited for any driving violations, the restrictions are then relaxed to allow up to three passengers under 18.
Hopefully a combination of new laws and increased awareness will result in fewer car accidents among Pennsylvania teens.
Source: Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, “PennDOT Urges Young Drivers to Avoid Distractions and ‘Just Drive’” May 22, 2012.