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Pickett Lauds Movement of Teen Driving Safety Bill

In an effort to help protect all motorists on Pennsylvania roadways and to expand training for younger, new drivers, Rep. Tina Pickett (R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna) today voted in favor of legislation to upgrade the state’s Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) law. 

“Pennsylvania is one of only seven states that has not updated its teen driving law to respond to national crash data,” said Pickett, a member of the House Transportation Committee and co-sponsor of the proposal. “This legislation is designed to increase behind-the-wheel training, eliminate distractions of other passengers and better enforce the use of seatbelts. In no way are we trying to replace good parenting, but many parents are looking to the law when they establish rules with their teen drivers. As a result, we must have appropriate laws in place.” 

House Bill 9 would increase behind-the-wheel training from 50 to 65 hours and require 10 of those hours be at night and five of those be during inclement weather. In addition, this bill would restrict the number of passengers to one person under age 18. An exception exists for family members. 

The legislation also would make it a primary offense for any person driving a vehicle where a passenger under age 18 isn’t wearing a seatbelt. This means a law enforcement officer could pull the vehicle over if he/she suspects someone isn’t buckled up. 

Research has shown that GDL laws are associated with reduced teen driver fatalities. States with comprehensive GDL laws in place report as much as a 40 percent drop in the number of fatal crashes among 16-year-old drivers.  

A statewide study announced last week revealed that nearly 60 percent of people who were polled in a recent statewide survey support tougher laws for holders of junior driver’s licenses. 

Of note are regional numbers for the central part of the state, in which most of the Northern Tier was included. More than half of those surveyed in this region believe that accidents from distracted drivers are one of the biggest threats to public safety on roads and highways today. Furthermore, 53 percent want tougher laws, and 72 percent want to increase the amount of hours for behind-the-wheel training. Seventy-three percent also agree with legislation to restrict the number of non-family passengers under age 18 to one in a vehicle driven by a teen driver.  

“The survey results from our part of the state are clearly reflective of an overall trend in residents wanting tougher laws,” Pickett said. “Not only are we seeking to protect younger drivers and their passengers but everyone who uses our roads and highways. This legislation is common sense, and I am hopeful for swift passage.” 

The bill now moves to the state Senate for consideration. 

State Representative Tina Pickett
110th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Contact:  Jennifer Keaton

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