The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's (PennDOT) most recently compiled annual data is for 2016. Statewide, there were roughly 129,395 reported crashes, 1,188 fatalities, and 82,971 injuries. In efforts to curb these accidents, the state is hosting their 2018 Highway Safety Conference at Penn State. They have several key topics that are the focus of workshops and training. The program includes critical information regarding behavioral aspects of motorist safety. Coordinators say that programming will include key recent federal provisions and input from PennDOT management.
Juvenile Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
One focal point of the event involves a disturbing trend of juveniles who are operating under the influence on the roads. The program will actually pertain to all those under the age of 21, the legal age for alcohol consumption in the state. PennDOT has implemented their Zero Tolerance Law initiative that stiffens penalties for underage DUI offenders. The maximum allowable Blood Alcohol Content for those under 21 is .02 rather than the .08 threshold that applies to adults. Also, those under 18 now face a license suspension when they accumulate six points on their driving record or if they are found to be operating more than 25 miles per hour in excess of the speed limit.
Safe at Every Age: Driving Longer Safely
This program looks at how driving safety may be impacted by aging. Older drivers often have increasingly worsening vision that can play a role in safety. Also, it will consider potential adjustments or changes that may improve safety among older motorists. In 2016, the percentage of accidents attributed to older age groups were as follows:
- Drivers between age 66 – 70: 3.7% of accidents
- Drivers between age 71 – 75: 2.6% of accidents
- Drivers over age 75: 3.6 % of accidents
Uncommon Traffic Stops
The first topic of “uncommon” traffic stops involves law enforcement's potential interactions with those of the emerging “sovereign citizen” movement. These individuals have an anti-government ideology and may potentially be uncooperative with authority. The other subject involves officers encountering those with medical problems that may impact their driving abilities, such as poor vision. The state requires drivers with poor vision to wear corrective lenses according to a threshold of 20/40.
Saving Lives: Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program (PAMSP)
The PAMSP is implementing some changes to this program that seeks to reduce accidents involving motorcycles. Total Control Training, Inc. (TCTI) obtained the contract for management of the program. TCTI management will be unveiling approaches that are designed to encourage motorcyclists to take increased initiative in their personal safety. The organization will now be responsible for these safety courses across the state.
The primary PAMSP offerings are available at no cost to those with an M permit or license holders. The program was enacted in 1984 to educate riders about risks involved. There are courses now designed for those who are novice, intermediate, or experienced riders. Across the state, there are approximately 60 different training sites.