CLEARFIELD Two municipal police departments partnered last week to remind teens about Pennsylvania’s seatbelt laws.
Clearfield Borough police conducted a detail, with cooperation from the Lawrence Township police, at the Clearfield Area High School, as students were dismissed. The effort was coordinated through Buckle Up PA, a PennDOT-funded project that is dedicated to raising the level of seatbelt usage through increased enforcement, public awareness and education.
Officers at the school provided informational fliers to motorists, as they left the parking lot. Teen drivers and passengers in vehicles’ front seats were observed, with 100 percent of those observed using a seatbelt.
Clearfield Borough police were one of 220 law enforcement agencies across the state awarded funds for a special Teen Seatbelt Mobilization — this targeted program was created with a plan to focus on young drivers and young passengers.
“Ultimately, it comes down to saving lives,” said Nathan Curry, patrolman for Clearfield Borough.
In Pennsylvania last year, 106 teens between the ages of 16 and 19 were killed in accidents. Of those teens, 92 were not wearing a seatbelt, and 68 of those were also the driver.
Teen drivers must follow Act 81 of 2011, which went into effect Dec. 21, 2011. The law provides for increased restrictions on new drivers, including:
- Elevation of violation for failure of driver or passenger who is under the age of 18 to wear a seatbelt. The violation is now a primary offense, meaning a minor driver can be stopped by law enforcement without committing any other violations.
- Increasing from 50 hours to 65 hours of behind-the-wheel skill building on learner’s permit.
- Limiting the number of passengers for those holding a junior driver’s license.
- During the first six months of holding a junior driver’s license, drivers under the age of 18 are not permitted to have more than one passenger under the age of 18 who is not an immediate family member unless they are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
- If a minor driver has not been convicted of a driving violation or been partially or fully responsible for a reportable accident after six months, they may have up to three passengers under age 18 who are not immediate family members without a parent or legal guardian present. If they have any convictions or are partially or fully responsible for a reportable accident while a junior driver, they are once again restricted to one passenger.
The fine for conviction of a seatbelt law violation in Pennsylvania is $60 for teens.
Pennsylvania’s seatbelt usage rate was 83.5 percent in 2012, a decrease from 83.8 percent in 2011.