Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pa. Driving Laws Rated Middle of Road State Needs to Address Seat Belts, Teen Drivers, Motorcycle Helmets and More, Group Says

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pa. Driving Laws Rated Middle of Road State Needs to Address Seat Belts, Teen Drivers, Motorcycle Helmets and More, Group Says

Article excerpt

Pennsylvania has improved its highway safety laws over the past five years but still falls short of the recommendations of a national safety advocacy organization.

In a report issued today, Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety gave the state a middling grade, saying it has eight of 15 recommended laws in place. That's an improvement from 2010, when Pennsylvania was one of nine states found to be "dangerously behind" in enacting safety laws.

Since then, the Legislature has enacted a ban on texting while driving, an improved booster seat law, and tighter regulations on teen driving, including a limit of one passenger other than immediate family for beginning drivers.

The report, "Lethal Loopholes," gave 10 states its highest rating, green, for significant progress on highway safety legislation. Pennsylvania was among 31 states rated yellow, meaning the "state is advancing but has numerous gaps in its highway safety laws." Nine states received a red rating, signifying "a dangerous lack of basic safety laws."

Pennsylvania barely avoided inclusion in the bottom grouping and risks falling back if it doesn't take additional steps to improve safety, said Jackie Gillan, president of the Washington, D.C.-based organization, an alliance of consumer, medical, public health and safety groups and insurance companies.

Chief among the group's recommendations for the state was making failure to wear a seat belt a primary offense for all passengers in a vehicle. The existing law requires drivers, front-seat passengers and those under 18 to buckle up, but adult drivers can be cited only if they are pulled over for another infraction.

"When you have secondary enforcement, you won't get people to buckle up and it ties the hands of the police," Ms. Gillan said in an interview Wednesday. …

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