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Pickett Says Teen Driver Bill Will Help Save Lives

HARRISBURG – To help keep drivers and their passengers safer, Rep. Tina Pickett (R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna) voted in favor of legislation making improvements to the state’s Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) law for holders of junior driver’s licenses.


House Bill 9, which passed the House overwhelmingly by a vote of 188-6 and now goes to the governor, updates the GDL by increasing behind-the-wheel training for permit holders, reducing the distractions caused by other passengers, and making sure passengers and drivers under age 18 are properly buckled up.


“Traffic crashes are the No. 1 killer of teenagers, regardless of whether they are behind the wheel or are passengers in cars driven by their peers,” said Pickett, a member of the House Transportation Committee. “Inexperience, coupled with distractions of other passengers, put teens at a much greater risk of injury or death, and that’s why we need to update our laws.”


House Bill 9:


  • Increases behind-the-wheel training from 50 to 65 hours. Ten of those hours must be at night and five of those be during inclement weather.
  • Restricts the number of passengers to one person under age 18 for the first six months a junior driver is licensed. An exception exists for family members. After six months, the limit increases to three non-family members under age 18, unless they are family or with a parent or guardian.
  • Applies a one-person passenger limit if the junior driver has been involved in a reportable accident for which the junior driver is partially or fully responsible in PennDOT’s opinion, or has been convicted of any violation of the state’s Vehicle Code.
  • Makes 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 sees that someone isn’t buckled up.


More than 44 states currently have some type of passenger restriction for teen drivers. In a recent survey conducted across Pennsylvania, 73 percent of people in central Pennsylvania, which included the Northern Tier, support legislation to restrict passengers in a vehicle driven by a teen.


“This legislation, which is the result of years of studies and expert testimony, is all about making our roads and highways safer, not just for the teens who travel them, but for everyone,” Pickett said.


The legislation was voted in the House earlier this year but was amended in the state Senate. This week’s vote in the House was on concurrence to agree to the Senate’s changes. Once signed by the Senate, the governor has 10 days to sign the legislation into law.

State Representative Tina Pickett
110th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives 
Contact: Jennifer Keaton

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