In 2012, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania had the third lowest fatalities on record last year with a total of 1,310.  This was slightly more than in 2011. PennDOT data from police reports also shows that there were 124,062 crashes on Pennsylvania roadways in 2012, a decrease from 125,322 in 2011.  This demonstrates a trend of less accidents over the past 15 years.  In fact, 15 years ago there were 144,542 Pennsylvania crashes. Obviously, the decrease in crashes and fatalities can be attributed to many factors.  
One factor is the increase in young driver safety requirements signed into law by Governor Tom Corbett in 2011.  The law, known as “Lacey’s Law”, was named after Lacey Gallagher from Bucks County and a constituent of State Representative Kathy Watson (R), the sponsor of the law.  Lacey Gallagher died on her prom night after a car accident in which 6 teenagers were travelling in an SUV.  
The new law took effect on December 27, 2011.  The law has the following requirements:  
  1. In order to obtain a junior license, teens must complete 65 hours of behind-the-wheel training, 10 of which must be spent after dark and five during inclement weather. 
  2. Teens with junior licenses may have only one unrelated person in the car with them under the age of 18, unless a parent is also along for the ride. 
  3. After six months with a clean driving record, a junior license holder may transport up to three underage passengers without a parent in the vehicle. 
  4. Failing to wear a seat belt is a primary offense, meaning a police officer may pull over a car with an unbelted driver or passenger for no other reason than that he or she noticed a seat belt is not in use.
Car accidents are very serious, no matter the age of the driver or passengers.  Many times, car accidents can be avoided if drivers act responsible and pay attention.  
Joe Cullen is a Shareholder in Stark & Stark’s Yardley, PA office, specializing in Accident & Personal Injury Law. For more information, please contact Mr. Cullen.