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Posted on Wednesday, April 18th, 2012 at 9:00 am    

On March 8, 2012 of this year, Pennsylvania joined the majority of states in our nation in adopting an anti-texting law. According to PENNDOT’s website, the key provisions of this law:

  • texting while driving banProhibit any driver from using an interactive wireless communication device (IWCD) to send, read or write a text-based communication while his or her vehicle is in motion.
  • Makes a violation of this law a primary offense and provides for a $50.00 fine for anyone convicted of violating this law.
  • Defines an IWCD as a wireless phone, personal digital assistant, smartphone, portable or mobile computer or similar device that can be used for texting, instant messaging, emailing or browsing the internet.
  • Defines a text-based communication as a text message, instant message, email or other written communication on an IWCD violation.

Since a violation of this law is designated as a primary offense, a police officer can stop you for such a violation even though you have committed no other driving violation. However, PENNDOT’s website points out that the violation carries no points and will not be recorded on the driver’s license record of non-commercial drivers. Furthermore, the texting ban does not include the use of a GPS device, a system or device that is physically or electronically integrated into the vehicle or a communications device that is affixed to a mass transit vehicle, bus or school bus.

Although there has been much debate about the enforceability of this law, State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan was recently quoted as saying “Our Troopers will attempt to use observations of the driver while the vehicle is in motion to determine if traffic stops are warranted. An example might be the motorist continues to manipulate the device over an extended distance with no apparent voice communication.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a majority of states and the District of Columbia all ban text messaging for drivers. Nine states, together with the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using hand held cell phones while driving.

In 2010 alone, there were almost 14,000 crashes in Pennsylvania where distracted driving played a role, resulting in 68 deaths.

For more information on the Pennsylvania’s anti-texting law check out and choose “anti-texting law”


Posted on Thursday, April 12th, 2012 at 9:00 am    

Pennsylvania recently adopted new rules affecting teen drivers under the age of 18. The new law increases the supervised, behind-the-wheel training requirements for drivers with learners permits under the age of 18 from 50 hours to 65 hours. Ten of the added hours must consist of night time driving. The other 5 hours must be driven in poor weather conditions.

Teen Driver PA LawAlso, the restrictions on the number and age of passengers that may be in a vehicle operated by a person with a junior driver’s license has changed. As of December 27, 2011, the new law now requires that for the first 6 months after receiving their junior drivers license, a driver is not permitted to have more than one passenger under the age of 18 who is not an immediate family member in a vehicle unless they are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. If the junior driver has not been convicted of any driving violations or been partially or fully responsible for a reportable crash after 6 months, they then may have up to 3 passengers under the age of 18 who are not immediate family members without a parent or legal guardian present. However, if they are convicted of any driving violations or partially or fully responsible for a reportable crash while a junior driver, they are once again restricted to the one passenger limit. These rules became effective as of December 27, 2011.

For more information about the new teen driver lawclick here.

Robotic Cars: Safer than Human Drivers?

Posted on Sunday, April 1st, 2012 at 5:17 am    

Last month, the state of Nevada passed legislation that will allow robotic cars to obtain a special driving permit. You might be wondering why Nevada would do such a thing. It turns out that Google has been secretly testing a fleet of robotic cars in California and Nevada for quite some time. In fact, National Public Radio (NPR) recently reported that Google’s fleet of robotic cars has already logged more than 200,000 miles.

Amazingly, per NPR, the robotic cars, also called autonomous cars or driverless cars, have managed to do this without a robotic car causing a single traffic accident. Google says that the only time one of their robotic cars was involved in an accident was when it was rear ended while stopped for a red traffic light.

Wondering what a Google robotic car looks like?

It looks like a Toyota Prius with a cone-shaped laser mounted on its roof and radar devices and cameras mounted on the sides of the cars. If you would like to see the car in motion, watch the video above.

According to Bruce Breslow, director of the Nevada DMV, these test vehicles will be given red license plates indicating a “student robot driver” is behind the wheel.

More information about the Google Robot Car is available here.