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Teen Auto Accident Fatalities Raise Questions about State Laws

Metzger Wickersham
Teen Auto Accident Fatalities Raise Questions about State Laws

In 2011, many grieved the loss of five Pennsylvania high school students who died in a multi-car crash. All five teens were traveling in one vehicle when it swerved into on-coming traffic on Route 94 and collided with a pick-up truck in New Oxford, Adams County, PA. None of the teenagers were wearing a seat belt. This accident and many others, serve as a sad reminder that fatal car crashes involving teenagers are far too common. In fact, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The National Safety Council, a leader in promoting Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) to reduce the number of crashes among teens, feels that it is important to regulate risky driving behavior and encourage the development of safe driving skills. In an aim to reduce the number of teen auto accidents, the NSC urges all states to adopt seven rules for teenage drivers:

  • minimum age 16 for a learner’s permit
  • six months before unsupervised driving
  • minimum 30 hours supervised driving during learner’s stage
  • intermediate licensing at 16½ minimum
  • intermediate night driving restriction beginning no later than 10 p.m.
  • no more than one non-family passenger for intermediate drivers
  • minimum age 17 for a full license

If all states adopted these suggested rules, an estimated 2,000 lives could be saved each year nationwide. According to the National Safety Council, states with stronger, comprehensive Graduated Driver Licensing systems see a higher reduction in teen crashes.

In an effort to enhance safety on Pennsylvania roads, Governor Corbett and the Legislature recently agreed on changes to the Vehicle Code involving Graduated Driver Licensing requirements, passenger restrictions for junior drivers and passenger restraint laws. The new rules took effect on Dec. 27, 2011. The changes to the law were initiated to:

  • help junior drivers receive more comprehensive training
  • ease young driver distractions through limiting the number of passengers they may carry
  • to improve general highway safety

If you've lost a loved one in an auto accident, Metzger Wickersham may be able to help. Contact us today.