Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers Report Pennsylvania Must Improve Highway Safety
April 20, 2015
According to a recent report issued by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (AHAS), Pennsylvania has a way to go concerning its highway safety enforcement. The report titled, Lethal Loopholes, states that Pennsylvania’s laws regarding seatbelts, motorcycle helmets, cell phone usage, and restricted licenses for those under 18 years of age, in addition to penalties for first-time drivers convicted of DUI, are weak and lead to preventable deaths and injuries to almost 200 people each year.
Using data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the AHAS report estimates that 136 lives could have been saved in the year 2012 if 100% of Pennsylvania drivers and passengers had worn their seatbelts. Moreover, 36 lives could have been saved if 100% of all motorcycle drivers and passengers had worn helmets while riding. The report suggests that taking seatbelt laws from secondary to primary enforcement would increase seatbelt usage by 10 to 15%, and reduce fatal car accidents by seven percent. NHTSA also reports that helmet usage reduces the risk of death by 37% for drivers and 41% for passengers.
The report also criticized Pennsylvania’s laws on cell phone usage and driving restrictions for those under 18 years of age. The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety recommend that the Keystone State prohibit all use of cells phones for young drivers, including use of hands free and Bluetooth devices. It also strongly advises that the state impose restrictions to limit drivers under the age of 18 from operating a vehicle unsupervised between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., effective an hour earlier than the current restriction.
Pennsylvania was also cited for having less than stringent penalties for first time drivers convicted of driving under the influence. Currently, Pennsylvania law only requires the installation of an ignition interlock device on vehicles operated by repeat offenders. The AHAS wants Pennsylvania to mandate the installation of these IID devices on all vehicles of convicted DUIs, including first-time offenders.
Overall, Pennsylvania received a “moderately positive performance” rating from AHAS, mainly due to its compliance with its laws on open containers, booster seats, child endangerment, text messaging, and learner permits. While Pennsylvania is on the way to making its highways safer for all, lawmakers still have a lot of room to improve their safety standards and enforcements.
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