Teens: Remember These Two New Laws When on the Road
In the past year, two very important laws went into effect in Pennsylvania -- a ban on texting while driving and a new bicycle safety law. These new laws apply to everyone on the road, but as thousands of teenagers head back to school, it's a good time to remind them about their responsibilities behind the wheel and on a bike. Young drivers are inexperienced, which means they must do everything in their power to be safe.
In case you're unfamiliar with the two new laws, here are some of the details.
State Texting Ban
- Drivers can't use any interactive wireless devices – including cell phones, personal digital assistants, smartphones, and portable or mobile computer devices – to send, write, or receive text-based messages when their vehicle is in motion.
- Text-based messages include text and instant messages, e-mails, and any other type of written communication.
- Drivers can't surf the web while behind the wheel.
- The law bans drivers from using wireless Bluetooth accessories, as these can be paired with some phone applications to read and write text messages. However, drivers who have cars with wireless integrated phone systems are excluded from the law.
- Texting while driving is now a primary offense, carrying a penalty of $50. A police officer can pull you over simply for texting while driving – you don't have to commit another traffic violation to receive the fine.
Pennsylvania Bicycle Safety Law
- When passing a bicyclist, drivers must allow at least four feet between their vehicle and the bicycle.
- Drivers can cross the center double yellow line if necessary to provide the required four feet, as long as it is safe to do so.
- When traveling below the posted speed limit, cyclists must keep to the right side of the road unless they are making a left turn or riding on a one-way street.
- If there is only one travel lane, bicyclists may use any portion of the lane to avoid hazards on the road.
- No turn by a driver can interfere with a bicyclist who is proceeding straight on a roadway. Drivers attempting to turn left must yield the right of way to bicyclists traveling in the opposite direction.
- It is illegal for motorists to force a bicyclist off of the road, and drivers who do this may face criminal charges.
Also, remember that last year Pennsylvania passed a new teen driver licensing law. Under the new law junior licensees are only permitted to carry one friend under the age of 18. You can read more on this law by visiting our teen driver licensing laws page.