OCT 26, 2011 UPDATE - Gov. Tom Corbett has signed Pennsylvania's new teen driver bill into law. The law will take effect in December.
For six months, newly licensed teens will only be allowed to carry one passenger who is under the age of 18 and who is not a member of their household. Teens can carry more than one such passenger if a parent or guardian is in the vehicle. If the teen driver hasn't caused an accident in six months, they can carry three passengers under the age of 18 who aren't members of their household.
The law also makes not wearing a seatbelt or using a proper child safety seat a primary offense. This means that police officers can stop and fine teens if they or their passengers aren't properly restrained. Furthermore, teens will need 65 hours of driving experience, up from 50, to get a junior license. They will also need five hours of bad-weather driving and 10 hours of night driving.
Oct. 7, 2011 ORIGINAL STORY - Pennsylvania teen drivers may have to ask mom and dad to be their chauffer even if they have their driver's license. Recently approved legislation limits the number of passengers that are allowed in cars operated by new teenage drivers.
Newly licensed drivers younger than 18 are only allowed to have one passenger under the age of 18 unless a parent or legal guardian is in the vehicle. The only exception is if the passengers are immediate family members. If teens go six months without being found at fault in a car accident, they can drive up to three passengers who are under the age of 18 and not immediate relatives. More than three passengers would still require a parent or guardian.
In addition, the new teen driver law expands driver education requirements, increasing behind-the-wheel training by 15 hours, for a total of 65. Ten of the hours have to be done at night and five during inclement weather. The bill also makes operating a vehicle with a young child who isn't in a car seat or with a passenger under 18 who isn't wearing a seat belt a primary offense. The legislation will become law in 60 days.
AAA has praised the measure, saying that it will limit the distractions faced by young drivers. However, some lawmakers said that it doesn't go far enough and should include a ban on using handheld cell phones while driving.