Pennsylvania hosts Highway Safety Law Awareness Week in February (this year it was the week of the 18th). The program is facilitated by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the Pennsylvania State Police. PennDOT is a critical part of policies and safety that relate to public transportation, highways, airports, railroads, and others. The program seeks to educate motorists about some of the often less-widely known “rules of the road." State Police Commissioner Tyree Blocker says that Law Safety Awareness Week is a critical educational event that enhances roadway safety. Here, we will look at several laws that were featured this year.
Drivers must yield right-of-way to those who are legally blind. They are often recognizable by use of a white cane and/or a dog that guides them. Drivers should take precautions when the blind are encountered as pedestrians by stopping to prevent potential injuries. These individuals may attempt to cross from a point other than the crosswalk that drivers typically associate with crossing pedestrians.
Driver Headphone & Earphone Use
Drivers are prohibited from wearing headphones or earphones. This does not apply to use of hearing aid type devices, or those that allow for “hands free” usage of mobile devices that go into a single ear. Having both ears blocked from sound can create very dangerous situations as you have a reduced awareness of the surroundings.
Inoperable Traffic Signals
If a traffic device in malfunctioning or temporarily out of operation, it is important to remember some of the basics.
- A green or yellow light allows drivers to proceed with the use of caution.
- A red light or signal that will not light is to be treated in the same manner as a stop sign would be.
- At intersections, a red light or signal that will not light requires drivers to follow the laws for stop and yield signs.
The “Ride on Red” Law
This law was specifically intended for motorcycles, although applicable to all types of vehicles. Many traffic signals rely on sensors that detect the weight of a vehicle to generate a corresponding response or action. Some lighter vehicles, such as motorcycles, are unable to trigger these sensors, which can lead to scenarios such as a light remaining red. In these situations where a signal does not change, the driver is free to proceed through the signal after a period of four minutes while exercising caution.
Leaving a Vehicle Unattended
When exiting a vehicle the driver must shift the vehicle into a gear that restricts movement, such as “park." In addition, the engine must be disengaged, ignition locked, and ignition key removed. When the vehicle is positioned on a slope, the wheels should be positioned facing the curb with the parking brake engaged. This does not apply to those “warning up” cars in their garage or driveway with the doors locked but is prohibited when on public property. Failures in adherence have resulted in unnecessary injuries and instances of theft.