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Highway Safety Law Awareness Week Delivers Reminders for Traffic Safety Laws

February 14, 2024 04:00 PM
By: Jennifer Kuntch

​To raise awareness on laws that are important to the safety of our motorists, PennDOT's Highway Safety Law Awareness Week will be observed Feb. 18-24, 2024.

Some road users are more vulnerable to risk of injury or death in a crash with a vehicle. Examples include bicyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and roadway and emergency workers. These roadway users are more exposed to the dangers of unsafe drivers and pose low risk to motorists.

Pennsylvania has multiple laws that apply to the road users, as well as the motorists who share the road with them. No matter how you use the road – whether you are driving, riding, walking, or biking – you must do your part to keep everyone safe.

Make safety your priority, follow these traffic laws – and all the rules of the road. Together, can keep everyone safe on our roadways.

Jump to topic:

  • Bicycle Safety Laws
  • Motorcycle Safety Laws
  • Pedestrian Safety Laws
  • Work Zone Safety Laws
  • Emergency Responder Safety Laws
  • Bicycle Safety

    Bikes can be ridden on the road, but with that right comes all the responsibilities applicable to the driver of a vehicle, with certain exceptions. If you ride in violation of the traffic laws, you greatly increase your risk of a crash.

    • Bikes can be ridden on the shoulder (in the same direction as the flow of traffic) or on the right half of the roadway. They can move away from the right lane when they are overtaking another vehicle driving in the same direction, when they are preparing to make a left turn, or when an obstruction exists making it necessary to change lanes.
    • Bicyclists cannot ride more than two abreast (side-by-side) unless on paths or parts of a road set aside for exclusive use of bicycles.
    • A bicyclist, with good caution, may treat an intersection with an inoperable or malfunctioning traffic sign as a stop condition when red, or as a caution condition when green or yellow. Often signals with embedded detectors will not respond to a bike waiting on a green light, and this is treated as "inoperable" under law.
    • Bicyclists should always wear a helmet. The law requires everyone under the age of 12 to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. But we strongly recommend that all bicyclists wear a helmet when riding!

    Drivers must also follow the rules of the road to help keep bicyclists safe!

    For more information on safety tips and laws meant to keep bicyclists safe, visit PennDOT's webpage on Bicycle Safety and Pennsylvania Laws.

    Motorcycle Safety

    PA law requires motorcycle operators and riders to wear protective headgear unless they are 21 years told and have been licensed to operate a motorcycle for two full years or have completed a motorcycle safety course approved by PennDOT or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. The Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program offers free motorcycle safety courses to Pennsylvania residents and active-duty military with a valid Pennsylvania driver's license and motorcycle permit.

    Aside from wearing a helmet for protection, motorcyclists are encouraged to wear all their safety gear, all the time. This includes eye and face protection, gloves, jacket and pants that fully cover your arms and legs, and boots or shoes that are high and sturdy enough to cover your ankles and give them support.

    Drivers should watch for motorcycles. They are small and may be difficult to see. Large vehicles can block a motorcycle from a motorist's view, so be sure to look twice. Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic and allow for more following distance when following a motorcycle.

    For more rider and motorists safety tips and information on proper gear and upkeep, visit PennDOT's webpage on Motorcycle Safety.

    Pedestrian Safety

    Pennsylvania's Vehicle Code details the rights and duties of pedestrians.

    Generally, people walking may cross the street at any point, but pedestrians and motorists must understand their responsibilities. Below are the basic laws to follow when crossing the street or driving.

    • When a pedestrian crosses the street in a crosswalk, the driver must yield.
      • Drivers are not required to yield until you begin to step into the crosswalk.
      • Pedestrians should not walk or run unexpectedly into the path of a moving vehicle. Pedestrians should not assume drivers will see or yield. Look left, right, and left again before stepping out.
      • It is illegal for drivers to pass a vehicle that is stopped for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, as the second driver may not see the pedestrian in the crosswalk.
    • If a pedestrian crosses the street not at an intersection and there is no crosswalk, the pedestrian must yield to vehicles.
    • When crossing the street at a signalized intersection, both pedestrians and motorists must obey the traffic-control devices.
      • These signs and signals help identify who must yield.
    • When walking along a road with sidewalks and its use is practicable, it is unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon an adjacent roadway.

    For more information on safety tips and laws meant to keep pedestrians safe, visit PennDOT's webpage on Pedestrian Safety.

    Work Zone Safety

    Pennsylvania's work zone safety laws are designed to protect both highway workers and motorists. PennDOT manages two distinct programs relating to active work zones:

    If a motorist is stopped by a police officer for a violation, it's a criminal violation under Title 75, Section 3326. Motorists caught driving 11 miles per hour or more above the posted speed limit in an active work zone, or who are involved in a crash in an active work zone and are convicted for failing to drive at a safe speed, automatically will lose their license for 15 days. Active work zones must be designated as such to notify motorists when they enter and leave the work zone. A white flashing light attached to the "Active Work Zone When Flashing" sign will indicate an active work zone. The flashing light will only be activated when workers are present and turned off when workers are not present. Fines for certain traffic violations — including speeding, driving under the influence, and failure to obey traffic devices — are doubled for active work zones. Also, the law provides for up to five years of additional jail time for individuals convicted of homicide by vehicle for a crash that occurred in an active work zone.

    Under Title 75, Section 3369, violations issued by Pennsylvania's Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement (AWZSE) program are civil violations and don't reflect any points or insurance ratings. AWZSE uses vehicle-mounted systems to detect and record motorists exceeding posted work zone speed limits by 11 miles per hour or more using electronic speed timing devices. AWZSE systems are only operational in active work zones where workers are present. Work Zones that have an AWZSE system present and active will have unique signs in advance of the enforcement area, alerting drivers to the upcoming enforcement. Registered owners receive a warning letter for a first offense, a violation notice and $75 fine for a second offense, and a violation notice and $150 fine for third and subsequent offenses. For more information on the Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement program, including a list of projects where the units are deployed, visit

    For more information on safety tips and laws meant to keep highway workers and motorists safe, visit PennDOT's webpage on Work Zone Safety.

    Emergency Responder Safety

    Pennsylvania's Move Over Law requires drivers approaching an emergency response area who are unable to safely merge into a lane farther away from the response area to "pass the emergency response area at a speed of no more than 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit and reasonable for safely passing." An emergency response area is where an emergency vehicle has its lights flashing, or where road crews or emergency responders have lighted flares, posted signs, or try to warn travelers.

    A similar law (Title 75, Section 4572.2) requires motorists to move over or slow down when approaching a stationary trash or recycling truck.

    Disabled vehicles are covered by the Move Over law when they display at least two of the following markings:

      • Vehicular hazard signal lamps.
      • Caution signs or other traffic control device.
      • Road flares.

    For more information on the law and what to do if you are in a crash, visit PennDOT's Move Over, Slow Down web page.

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