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New law hopes to minimize car accidents with teenagers

In Pennsylvania, two accidents have happened since the signing of a new law in October that was designed to further protect teenage drivers. Five high school students in one accident lost their lives. The next day, two 16-year-old twins and their 9-year-old sister died in a separate car crash. The bill, not affecting those that died, officially went into effect at midnight on Dec. 27.

With its new repercussions, the law will disallow new drivers from having more than one person under the age of 18 in their vehicle for the first six months of having a license. Family members do not count for this number. After the first six months a teenage driver will then be allowed to have no more than three individuals under the age of 18 in any vehicle that is under his or her control.

If any minor passenger is found not wearing a seat belt, the teenage driver may receive a fine. Under the new law, this situation has become a primary offense, meaning that teenagers may be pulled over and ticketed solely for this.

A considerable change that the new bill has brought to Pennsylvania law is the addition of 15 more hours for drivers' training. Now totaling 65 hours, the new law makes sure that teenagers will drive at least five hours in poor weather and 10 hours at night. The 30 percent increase in training time will hopefully make teenage drivers more careful while on the road.

The recently approved law was named for a teenager from Philadelphia who perished in an accident four years ago. This law is no cure, however. Drivers still need to remain cautious and vigilant when they are on the road.

Source: Fox 43, "New Teen Driving Law in Effect; Pennsylvania Teens Face Tougher Road Rules," Amber Miller, Dec. 27, 2011

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Gregory R. Gifford
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