New Jersey is not the only state looking to toughen the laws for young new drivers. As reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer, yesterday, a new law went into effect in Pennsylvania that does just that. Concerned with distracted teen drivers and increased fatalities (proponents of the law cite an increase in fatal crashes involving 16- and 17-year-old drivers from 40 in 2009 to 57 in 2010), this law adds further restrictions regarding driver experience and passengers in the car.According to the new law, new junior drivers
- Can have only one passenger under the age of 18 who is not an immediate family member, without a parent or legal guardian in the car
- Can have three passengers in the car that are under 18, if they have not had any violations or accidents in six months
- Must have more behind the wheel training time, 65 hours instead of 50, including 10 hours of night-time driving and 5 hours of bad weather driving
In addition, PA’s seat belt law is a primary offense for teen drivers, i.e. a policeman can pull them over for that offense alone. Most people interviewed by the Inquirer applauded the law, but some critics of the law say it is not strict enough. They say that it should have extended the time driving under a learner’s permit from six months to a year before getting a license, which is the case with a proposed law in New Jersey.Teens who violate this law could get a fine ranging from $10 to $75.