With many more young motorists on the roads over the summer months, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has issued a timely safety reminder that can assist in preventing motor vehicle accidents. The main message is this: Avoid distractions while behind the wheel and remain focused only on driving.
PennDOT officials say that younger motorists, because of their lack of driving experience, are especially prone to accidents caused by distractions or inattentiveness. According to statistics, 4,000 auto accidents in Pennsylvania since 2007 involved drivers who were 16 or 17.
In many of these cases, the accident may have been caused by the driver’s distraction, which can stem from conversation with passengers or making cell phone calls or texting. These accidents resulted in 18 deaths and many serious injuries.
Teen motorists who are transporting their friends are more likely to have accidents, PennDOT reported. When a teen driver has one passenger under age 21 in their car, their chances of an accident rises by approximately 44 percent. When there are two young passengers, the accident rate doubles and when there are three or more young passengers in a teen motorist’s car, the risk of an accident increases by an astronomical 400 percent.
Pennsylvania state law makes it illegal for drivers younger than 18 to have more than one passenger under that age in the car unless a parent or guardian is also present. After teen motorists have had their license for six months, the number of young passengers they can carry is increased to three, as long as they have not had a prior accident or been convicted of a driving offense.
Texting while driving is also illegal in Pennsylvania. It’s important for parents to remind their teens of these traffic laws to help keep the roads safe this summer by preventing motor vehicle accidents caused by distraction and inexperience.
Source: 12 News, “PennDOT: Avoid Distractions and ‘Just Drive’,” Bryan Mercer, May 24, 2012