Teen drivers affected by new PA law

PAT FRIDGEN

A new Teen Driving Law takes effect Saturday, Dec. 24, so Greencastle Police were proactive in alerting young drivers to one of the regulations. On Monday, Dec. 12, a uniformed officer with a marked cruiser was at one exit of the Greencastle-Antrim High School parking lot. Chief John Phillippy also set out a ‘Seatbelt Check’ sign so the drivers knew what he was looking for, though he did not make any stops or issue warnings or tickets.

Phillippy said of the approximately 75 students to drive by, only one was not belted. The teens generally gave him positive recognition as they left the school grounds.

Act 81 of 2011 makes driving without a seatbelt a primary offense, so drivers can be pulled over for that alone.

Governor Tom Corbett signed the legislation in October. The new law within the Vehicle Code is designed to give junior drivers more training, reduce distractions and increase highway safety.

Other changes for teens

Act 81 requires people under the age of 18 with a learner’s permit to get in 65 hours of supervised driving experience, up from the current 50. The extra hours must include 10 in nighttime driving, and five in poor weather conditions.

The number of passengers allowed is also reduced. It used to be equal to the number of seatbelts in the vehicle, but as of Saturday, a junior driver may have only one person along under the age of 18 if not a family member. This rule stands for the first six months of the license, unless a parent or guardian is also in the vehicle. After the six months, if the driver has not had a conviction for a driving violation, or caused a reportable accident, the teen may have three passengers under the age of 18.

December alert

Greencastle police also participated in an enforcement effort Dec. 16 to 18 to highlight December as National Drunk and Drugged Driving Awareness Month. Agencies from Virginia to Pennsylvania conducted a border to border campaign on Impaired Driving Enforcement. Phillippy said the timing was to alert drivers of the need for safe driving habits, especially with holiday parties on the horizon. The data from the weekend is still being compiled.