Children At the Wheel

At the end of 2011, some major changes regarding teenage drivers went into effect in the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code.  This is a reflection of the concern over the teenage drivers’ accident rate which is four times the adult drivers’ rate.

 The new law provides:

  • Within six months of obtaining a driver’s license, a teen driver under the age of 18 may have no more than one non-family member in the car under the age of 18.  If after the first six months the teen driver’s record at the wheel is unblemished, he or she may have no more than three non-family members as passengers unless his or her parent or guardian is also in the car.  If during the first six-month period the teen driver is involved in a crash for which the teen is partially or fully responsible, the one non-member in the car limitation will continue to apply until the teen attains the age of 18.
  • A teen applying for a license must attain 65 hours (increased from former 50 hours) of behind-the-wheel training, of which at least ten of the training hours must be at night and at least five of which must be in inclement weather.
  • It is now a primary offense for anyone to operate a car with a passenger who is under the age of 18 years and who is not wearing a seat belt; and any passenger under the age of eight must be fastened to a child restraint system.  For the first time, police in Pennsylvania may stop a vehicle upon suspicion of a violation of this new provision.
 These are drastic changes, but given the appalling rate of accidents among teen drivers, so many of them resulting in fatalities, it is an effort to reduce them significantly.  We should probably be able to judge the effectiveness of the changes as the accident statistics accumulate over the next couple of years.
Ken Butera


Posted in Vehicle