Each year, PennDOT raises awareness on laws that are important to the safety of our motorists through education, social media, and outreach with our partners, like the Pennsylvania State Police, in hope that it creates behavioral change.
Safety is PennDOT's most important priority. By following these traffic laws and making safety your priority too, we can keep everyone safe on our roadways.
Nearly half of all traffic fatalities in Pennsylvania involve a lane departure crash making this one of the priority emphasis areas in the 2022 Pennsylvania Strategic Highway Safety Plan.
Lane departures include crashes where a single vehicle leaves the roadway, sometimes colliding with a tree, utility pole, guiderail or other fixed object, as well as head-on crashes when a vehicle crosses over into an opposing lane of traffic and hits an oncoming vehicle. Impaired driving, aggressive driving, and distracted driving are all factors in lane departure crashes. Additionally, more than half of the fatalities in lane departures in 2021 were also unbelted.
Pennsylvania law prohibits individuals from driving while impaired by alcohol and/or drugs. Penalties for driving while impaired depend on the individual's level of impairment and prior offenses and can include up to $10,000 in fines, up to ten years in prison, up to 18 months license suspension, one year of ignition interlock, and more. For more information on the penalties, check out Pennsylvania's DUI Law.
In 2022, the legislation created Act 59 – referred to as "Deana's Law" – which amends the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code by increasing the grading for certain DUI offenses, requiring consecutive sentencing for certain repeat DUI offenders, and imposing an 18-month driving privilege suspension for a DUI conviction graded as a felony of the second degree.
Aggressive Driving includes factors such as speeding, driving too fast for conditions, tailgating, careless passing, passing in a no passing zone, running red lights, running stop signs, failing to respond to other traffic control devices, and more.
Pennsylvania law on speed restrictions requires motorists to drive at reasonable and prudent speeds for the current conditions. Drivers must drive at a safe and appropriate speed when approaching and crossing intersections, railroad grade crossings, when approaching and going around a curve, while approaching a hill crest, when traveling upon any narrow or winding roadway, and when special hazards exist with respect to pedestrians, other traffic, or weather or highway conditions. This law is sometimes called the "assured clear distance" rule because it requires motorists to operate at a speed at which they can stop within an "assured clear distance." Drivers may be ticketed for rear-ending another vehicle because they violated this law by not stopping within the following distance they allowed.
Pennsylvania law allows motorists to safely pass to the left of other vehicles traveling in the same direction. Drivers being passed should not increase their speed until completely passed and shall give the right-of-way to the passing vehicle. Motorists must pass safely and are not permitted to pass to the left side of the center line unless the left side is clearly visible and is free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance. Drivers passing other vehicles must also return to their lane of travel as soon as possible.
Motorists may also safely pass to the right of other vehicles when the other vehicle is making or about to make a left turn, as long as the passing vehicle does not drive off the berm or shoulder of the road.
Drivers are prohibited from passing other motorists in no passing zones. No passing zones are portions roadway where passing or driving on the left side of the roadway would be especially hazardous. These areas are marked by signs to indicate the beginning and end of each no-passing zone.
Traffic Control Signals
Pennsylvania Law provides general rules for traffic-control signals, provides general rules for traffic-control signals, including inoperable or malfunctioning signals. If a traffic signal is out of operation or not functioning properly (including if the sensor does not detect the vehicle), motorists with green and yellow signals can proceed with caution, motorists with red signals are to stop and then proceed in the same manner as at a stop sign. Pennsylvania law also provides rules for flashing signals, provides rules for flashing signals, including flashing yellow. When a traffic-control signal is flashing red, drivers should proceed as at a stop sign. When it is flashing yellow, drivers may proceed through the intersection with caution. Watch this video for more information on correctly using a flashing yellow arrow turn signal.
Pennsylvania's Texting-While-Driving Ban prohibits as a primary offense 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.
Pennsylvania law requires any occupant younger than 18 to buckle up when riding in a vehicle, as well as drivers and front-seat passengers. Children under the age of two must be secured in a rear-facing car seat, and children under the age of four must be restrained in an approved child safety seat. Children must ride in a booster seat until their eighth birthday.
For more information on PennDOT's highway safety efforts, visit www.PennDOT.pa.gov/safety.
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