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 everyone's responsibility. By obeying the rules of the road, everyone can do their part to reduce the number of crashes and fatalities on Pennsylvania roads. Always wear your seat belt and never drive aggressively, distracted, or impaired.
Here are the laws highlighted in 2021 and their common-sense explanations.
Move Over Law
Pennsylvania's Move Over Law requires drivers approaching an emergency response area who are unable to safely merge into a lane further away from the response area to slow to at least 20 mph less than the posted speed limit. 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. Drivers must move over or slow down for all responders, including police, fire, and ambulance crews, as well as stopped tow trucks and maintenance vehicles. Additionally, a similar regulation requires motorists to move over or slow down when approaching a stationary trash or recycling truck.
Failure to move over or slow down will result in a citation that carries a fine of $500 for first-time offenders, $1,000 for a second offense, and $2,000 and a 90-day license suspension for a third or subsequent offense. Penalties are increased for incidents that seriously injure or kill another person.
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
Another Pennsylvania Law requires any truck class III or greater, truck tractor, bus, or any motor vehicle towing a trailer carry at least three portable emergency warning devices and display the devices when stopped on a roadway or shoulder for 10 minutes outside of an urban district, or on a divided highway anywhere, even in an urban district (like I-95 in Philadelphia).
Hearing Impairment Devices
Title 75, Section 3314 prohibits any driver from wearing or using one or more headphones or earphones while behind the wheel. Wearing headphones while behind the wheel limits a driver's ability to hear sirens belonging to emergency responders.
This law does not prohibit the use of hearing aids or other devices for improving the hearing of the driver, nor does it prohibit the use of a headset in conjunction with a cell phone which provides sound through one ear and allows surrounding sounds to be heard with the other. It does not prohibit the use of communication equipment by the driver of an emergency vehicle or by motorcycle operators.
Wipers On, Headlights On
Title 75, Section 4302 requires that all vehicles should have their headlights on anytime the windshield wipers are operating in continuous or intermittent use due to inclement weather (including rain, snow, sleet, or mist).
Traffic-control Signal Laws
Title 75, Section 3112 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.
Title 75, Section 3114 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.
Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Pennsylvania Law requires that any person who operates or rides a motorcycle (including an autocycle) must wear protective headgear unless he or she is 21 years of age or older and has been licensed to operate a motorcycle for two full years or has completed a motorcycle safety course approved by PennDOT or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. In addition, the operator or an occupant of a three-wheeled motorcycle or autocycle equipped with an enclosed cab is exempt from wearing a helmet.
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.
Bicycle Helmet Laws
Pennsylvania law requires everyone under the age of 12 to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. This applies to anyone operating the bicycle, riding as a passenger, or riding in an attached restraining seat or trailer. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation strongly recommends that all bicyclists wear helmets whenever they ride. You can ensure a proper helmet fit using these guidelines (PDF).
Seat Belt Laws
Pennsylvania's primary seat belt law requires drivers and passengers under 18 years of age to buckle up anywhere in the vehicle. Under Pennsylvania's Primary Child Passenger Safety Law, children under the age of four must be properly restrained in an approved child safety seat anywhere in the vehicle and children ages 4-8 must be restrained in an appropriate booster seat. The "Child Passenger Safety" law update, which went into effect in August 2016, states that children are required to be buckled into a rear-facing car seat until they are age 2 or meet the maximum weight or height requirements set by the manufacturer of the seat.
Pennsylvania's secondary seat belt law requires drivers and passengers 18 years and older wear a seat belt when behind the wheel or in the front passenger seat. If you are a driver 18 or older and police pull you over for another violation, you'll receive a second ticket if you or your front-seat passengers aren't wearing seat belts.
For more information on highway safety, visit www.PennDOT.gov/safety.
Make sure you're following us on social media for Highway Safety Law Awareness Week! Get ready for a week full of safety tips, including some submissions from our Safety Citizens!