The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) reported that there were more than 127,000 auto accidents in Pennsylvania during 2015.  Even though technological advancements are making driving safer all the time, there’s still plenty of room for improvement when it comes to reducing the number of car accidents.  In an effort to prevent injuries and save lives, Pennsylvania recently introduced four new driving laws that you should know about if you’re a Pennsylvania resident.  Philadelphia car accident lawyer Brent Wieand explains how the updated laws affect Pennsylvania drivers, pedestrians, and passengers.

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4 New PA Traffic Laws and How They Affect You

Are you a driver who has a young child?  Have you ever come close to being hit by a car while you were out walking or running?  Have you ever been in an accident, or had a close call, because somebody around you was sending text messages instead of paying attention to the road?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should pay special attention to the following, because there’s a good chance the new Pennsylvania traffic laws could affect you.

New Law #1: Safety Requirements for Child Passengers

Because of their small size, toddlers and young children have special requirements for car seats.  In case you weren’t aware, Pennsylvania updated its existing child seat laws in August 2016 to require rear-facing car seats for all children until they either:

  • Turn two years old.
  • Exceed the height and/or weight limits set by the car seat’s manufacturer.

While this is the newest component of Pennsylvania’s child seat laws, it isn’t the state’s only child passenger safety requirement.  Pennsylvania parents should also keep in mind that:

  • All passengers under the age of 18 are required by law to wear a seat belt.
  • Children age four to eight must be restrained in a size- and age-appropriate booster seat. Check the manufacturer’s specifications to find the perfect size booster seat for your child.

New Law #2: Pedestrian Protection, Fines for Drivers

If you frequently go out walking or jogging, you’ll be pleased to learn that Pennsylvania has introduced new laws enhancing protection for pedestrians.  Under the new law, drivers who are entering or exiting an alley, private road, or driveway are required to yield the right-of-way to approaching pedestrians who are using a road, driveway, or a sidewalk that extends across the alley.  If the driver fails to yield, he or she will be fined and receive three points on his or her driver’s license.  (If a driver accumulates six points, he or she is required to take a mandatory driving safety exam – otherwise, his or her driver’s license will be suspended.)  The new law also bans drivers from passing or overtaking cars that have stopped for pedestrians in crosswalks.

According to PennDOT statistics, just over 4,000 pedestrians were injured, and 153 killed, in accidents during 2015.  The statistical report also noted that vehicle-pedestrian crashes “cause the fourth highest number of deaths.”  Most of the time, pedestrians are either walking, jogging/running, or entering a crosswalk when an injury or fatal crash occurs.

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Source: PennDOT, 2015 Pennsylvania Crash Facts & Statistics

New Law #3: Increased Penalties for Texting While Driving

In January 2017, Pennsylvania enhanced its penalties for texting while driving after 68-year-old Daniel Gallatin of Harlansburg, a volunteer firefighter and military veteran, was killed in a fatal motorcycle accident.  Gallatin was pinned and dragged for approximately 100 feet, sustaining fatal injuries, after an SUV became entangled with his motorcycle.  The driver of the SUV, 43-year-old Laura Gargiulo, was texting when the accident took place.

At the bill-signing ceremony, Governor Tom Wolf stated that distracted driving – and in particular, texting while driving – had been “allowed to go under-punished for far too long” in Pennsylvania.  The new law extends the prison sentence for vehicular homicide in cases where the victim was killed because the driver was texting instead of focusing on the road.

New Law #4: Ignition Interlock for Repeat DUI Offenders

You don’t have to worry about this law unless you are charged with multiple DUI offenses or have caused a drunk driving accident.  However, you should know that if you are convicted of intoxicated driving a second or subsequent time, in addition to facing fines, license suspension, and other penalties, you will now also be required to pay for the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) in your personal vehicle.  The installation costs approximately $1,000.  An IID is similar to a breathalyzer, but has been customized for use in vehicles to prevent the engine from starting if alcohol is detected on the person’s breath.

Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer for Personal Injury Claims

If you or one of your family members was hurt in a car crash, motorcycle accident, or truck accident in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, financial compensation may be available for your medical bills, pain and suffering, lost earnings, and other losses.  To discuss your injury or wrongful death case with an experienced Philadelphia personal injury lawyer in a free, no-obligation legal consultation, contact the Wieand Law Firm, LLC at (800) 481-5206 today.

*Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes.  It is not legal advice and should not be used as legal advice.  The Wieand Law Firm, LLC is based in Philadelphia, PA, and proud to serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.*