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High schools students throughout the area to learn driver safety

Published February 14. 2012 05:01PM

High schools students throughout the area will be learning teen-driver safety as police departments mobilize to announce seat-belt enforcement mobilization Feb. 14 through March 4.

The law enforcement activities will take place in Lehighton, Jim Thorpe and Weatherly today.

To enhance safety on Pennsylvania road, Governor Tom Corbett and Legislature have agreed on changes to the Vehicle code involving graduated driving licensing requirements, passenger restrictions for junior drivers and passenger restraint laws.

The new law, Act 81, became effective on Dec. 24, 2011, and were initiated to help junior drivers receive more comprehensive training, ease young driver distractions through limiting the number of passengers they may carry and improve general highway safety through improvements to passenger restraint laws.

The new law increases the number of hours learner's permit holders under 18 and under from 50 to 65 hours. Ten of those hours will consist of nighttime driving, while the other five hours must be driven in poor weather conditions.

Learner's permit holders who have taken their on the road driving skills test before the law's effective date of Dec. 24, 2011, only need to complete the present requirements of 50 hours of supervised training. If learner's permit holders who have not passed the on the road driving skills test before Dec. 24, 2011, will have to meet the new requirement of 54 total hours of supervised skill building training - including the 10 nighttime hours and five poor weather hours of driving - before they are authorized to take the driving skills portion of their driver's test to receive their junior license.

The law places increased restrictions on the number and age of passengers which a junior driver's license holder may transport.

As of Dec. 11, 2011, for the first six months after receiving their junior driver's license, a driver is not permitted to have more than one passenger under age 18 who is not an immediate family member (brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister of the junior driver and adopted or foster children living in the same household as the junior driver) in their vehicle unless they are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. If they have not been convicted of a driving violation or been partially or fully responsible for a reportable crash after six months, they may have up to three passengers under age 18 who are not immediate family members without a parent or legal guardian present. If they have any convictions or are partially or fully responsible for a reportable crash while a junior driver, they are once again restricted to one passenger.

The new law notes that drivers and occupants in a vehicle who are under the age of 18 must wear a seat belt and children under the age of 8 must be in a child restraint system. Failure to comply with the new law's seat belt provisions is a primary offense, meaning that a driver can be pulled over and cited solely for that violation.

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