Pennsylvania traffic laws are improving, but still not great

Weakness on motorcycle and seat belt laws endanger public, group says

A recent report by a highway safety advocacy group says that while Pennsylvania has made significant improvements in its traffic safety laws, much work remains to be done, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety says the state is somewhere in the middle compared with other states on its traffic safety regulations. The report comes as federal statistics show that traffic accident fatalities have declined significantly across the U.S. in recent years, especially so in Pennsylvania.

Receives a yellow grade

Pennsylvania was one of 31 states to receive a yellow grade in the report, indicating the state's laws are improving, but still fall short in key areas. Only ten states received the highest grade, green, while nine state received a red grade for having dangerously few laws addressing traffic safety.

In 2010, Pennsylvania was rated red, but new laws since then have improved its standing, including a ban on texting and driving, tougher teen driving laws, and better protections for booster seats. In total, the state has enacted eight of the 15 laws the group says improve safety on the roads and highways. According to Carscoops, Pennsylvania had the third-biggest decline in traffic fatalities in 2013, with 102 fewer deaths compared to the year before. Only Ohio and Kentucky saw bigger reductions.

Big gaps remain

Pennsylvania, however, continues to fall short in a number of key areas. The state, the group notes, still does not make failure to wear a seat belt a primary offense, meaning that currently police can only pull over drivers for failure to wear a seat belt if they also witness the drivers committing some other offense. The group also said it was "absolutely criminal" that Pennsylvania repealed a motorcycle helmet law in 2003 and that it has not required motorcyclists to wear helmets since then.

Pennsylvania is one of 26 states that also doesn't require ignition interlock devices for all DUI offenders, but just for those with multiple DUI convictions. State lawmakers are currently debating a bill that would expand ignition interlock legislation to include first offenders, but previous versions of the bill have failed in the past.

Legal representation

While the above story shows that Pennsylvania's roads and highways are getting safer, it is also a sign that much work needs to be done. Highways deaths and injuries may have declined, but they still remain unacceptably high.

For people who have been injured in a car accident, it is important to get in touch with a personal injury attorney at the earliest possible time. An experienced attorney can assist with the many consequences of an accident, including the possibility of pursuing compensation for a crash that was caused by a potentially negligent or reckless driver.