Safety Program Offers Information During Highway Safety Law Awareness Week

Provided by the Bucks County Community Traffic Safety Program: 

File photo

The Bucks County Community Traffic Safety Program in cooperation with PennDOT and the Pennsylvania State Police are recognizing Highway Safety Law Awareness Week, Sunday through Saturday.

Drivers need to be aware of several new and updated laws in Pennsylvania. PennDOT , State Police  and Traffic Safety Programs are teaming up to spread the word about news laws or laws that just aren’t very well known to the general public:

Steer Clear Law

  • Protecting our first responders.
  • When approaching or passing an emergency response area, a person, unless otherwise directed by an emergency service responder, shall:
    • Pass in a lane not adjacent to that of the emergency response area, if possible; or
    • If passing in a nonadjacent lane is impossible, illegal or unsafe, pass the emergency response area at a careful and prudent reduced speed reasonable for safely passing the emergency response area.
  • Drivers MUST move over/slow down for police, fire, EMS, tow trucks and maintenance vehicles.
  • Violators commit a summary offense. Penalties include:
    •  A fine of up to $250 for a first offense, $500 for a second offense, and 1,000 for a third or subsequent offense;
    • Repeat offenders may have their license suspended for up to 1 year;
    • Violators who cause bodily injury or the death of an emergency service provider face additional fines of up to $10,000 and suspension for up to 1 year; and
    • Fines for several other traffic violations are doubled when committed in an emergency response area when first responders are present.
  • For more information:

Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement

  • The Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement (AWZSE) program, PA Act 86 of 2018, was established to reduce work zone speeds, change driver behavior, and improve work zone safety for workers and motorists.
  • Using portable, vehicle-mounted electronic speed timing devices to detect and record motorists speed in posted work zones.
  • Registered owners will receive a warning letter for a first offense, a violation notice and $75 fine for a second offense, and a violation notice and $150 fine for third and subsequent offenses.
  • The program began on January 4, 2020 and is already being deployed.
  • During the pre-enforcement period (1/4/20-3/4/20), automated speed enforcement units will be deployed in active work zones, but violations will not be issued. Starting March 4, 2020 violations will be issued.
  • In 2018, there were 1,804 work zone crashes in Pennsylvania, 43% of which resulted in injuries, including 23 fatalities. Since 1970, PennDOT has lost 89 workers in the line of duty. The PA Turnpike has lost 45 workers since 1945.
  • For more information:

Motorcycle Helmet Laws

  • Pennsylvania Law requires that any person who operates or rides a motorcycle (including an autocycle) must wear protective headgear unless he or she is 21 years of age or older and has either two years of riding experience or has completed a motorcycle safety course approved by PennDOT or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.
  • The Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program offers free motorcycle safety courses to Pennsylvania residents and active-duty military with a valid Pennsylvania driver’s license and motorcycle permit.

Bicycle Helmet Laws

  • Pennsylvania law requires everyone under the age of 12 to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle including drivers, passengers, and anyone in an attached restraining seat or trailer.
  • It is strongly recommends that all bicyclists wear helmets whenever they ride.
  • Ensure a proper helmet fit using these guidelines:

Seat Belt Laws

  • Pennsylvania’s primary seat belt law Requires:
    • Drivers & passengers under 18 to buckle up anywhere in the vehicle.
    • Drivers under 18 may not operate a vehicle where the number of passengers exceeds the number of available seat belts.
    • Children under 4 must be properly restrained in an approved child safety seat anywhere in the vehicle and children ages 4-8 must be restrained in an appropriate booster seat.
    • Children are required to be buckled into a rear-facing car seat until they are age 2 or meet the maximum weight or height requirements set by the manufacturer of the seat.
  • Pennsylvania’s secondary seat belt law requires:
    • Drivers and passengers 18 & older must wear a seat belt when behind the wheel or in the front passenger seat.
    • Drivers 18 & older, will receive a citation if any front-seat passengers isn’t wearing seat belt, when police stop you for any another violation.

School Bus Passing Law

  • Rule of thumb: If in Doubt, STOP!
  • You MUST STOP When you meet or overtake a stopped school bus with red signal lights flashing and stop arm extended.
  • You MUST STOP When you approach an intersection where a school bus is stopped with red signal lights flashing and stop arm extended.
  • You MUST STOP at least ten (10) feet away from the school bus.
  • You MUST WAIT until the red lights have stopped flashing and the stop arm has been withdrawn before moving.
  • DO NOT MOVE until all the children have reached a place of safety.
  • Your first conviction for violating Pennsylvania’s School Bus Stopping Law, will result in:
    • 60-Day Driver’s License Suspension;
    • Five (5) points on your driving record; and
    • $250 Fine + $35 surcharge.
  • Annually, more than 700 drivers are convicted for passing a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing.
  • The operator of a school bus who observes a violation may prepare a signed, written report which indicates that a violation has occurred:
    • To the extent possible, the report shall include the following information:
      • Information, if any, pertaining to the identity of the operator;
      • The license number and color of the vehicle;
      • The time and location at which the violation occurred;
      • Identification of the vehicle as an automobile, station wagon, motor truck, motor bus, motorcycle or other type of vehicle; and
      • Whether the school bus is equipped with a Side Stop Signal Arm Enforcement System (SSSAES).
    • Within 48 hours of the violation the school bus operator shall deliver the report to the police department with jurisdiction for the area in which the violation occurred.
    • The assigned officer shall file a citation if he/she determines the report establishes sufficient basis for the issuance of a citation.
    • If the issuing authority determines that the report and citation establish a sufficient basis for the issuance of a summons, a summons shall be issued.
    • For more information:

School Bus Side Stop Signal Arm Enforcement System (SSSAES)

  • Act 159 of 2018 permits school buses to have Side Stop Signal Arm Enforcement Systems (SSSAES) to monitor failure to stop for a school bus with flashing red lights, creates a surcharge for illegally passing a school bus, and establishes the School Bus Safety Grant Program Account. The SSSAES start recording once the side stop signal arm and red signal lights are deployed. The recording captures violations and, after review by law enforcement, citations for violations can be issued.
  • Def: A camera system with two or more camera sensors and computers that produce recorded video and two or more film or digital photographic still images of vehicles violating school bus laws.
  • A school entity may install and operate a SSSAES for the purpose of enforcing the provisions of Title 75 Section 3345 (school bus laws).
  • Images produced by a SSSAES and sworn to or affirmed by a police officer shall be prima facie evidence of the facts contained in it and shall be admissible in any judicial or administrative proceeding.
  • For more information:

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