Pennsylvania requires drivers to remove snow and ice from cars

Don’t feel like cleaning off the snow and ice from your car? In Pennsylvania, that could result in you getting a fine of $ $25 and $75 for each offense.

Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Lehigh County, has reintroduced a bill that would require drivers to make “all reasonable efforts” to remove all ice or snow from their vehicles.

Recently, Boscola reintroduced a similar bill that would fine truck drivers for not clearing the snow and ice from their rigs.

“Many times while driving on our roadways, we have all been the victim of falling snow and ice coming from vehicles in front of us,” Boscola said in a memo about her bill. “This is not only extremely dangerous but can lead to personal injuries and fatalities.”

Boscola said that she first proposed the bills after one of her constituents was killed in 2005 when an “ice missile” fell off a tractor-trailer and struck her vehicle.

Both bills have been sent to the Pennsylvania Senate Transportation Committee for review. Previously, the bills have died in the same committee. The bill aims to keep Pennsylvania’s drivers safer while commuting during the winter months.

This article was last updated January 20, 2017. 

Using Facebook live while driving

Recently, it has been observed that users of Facebook are going live while behind the wheel. Being on Facebook Live while driving has backfired several times on the driver. There was an incident last year when a Florida motorist, Whitney Beall was arrested for allegedly using Periscope while driving drunk. She even titled her live stream “drunk girl driving” and someone called 911 and was able to get the police to find her location.

As officers attempted to pull over the driver she hit the curb with her front tire. Officers said that they smelled alcohol on Beall after she was pulled over, her speech was impaired and her eyes were glossy. She failed the standardized field sobriety tests but refused the breathalyzer test. Beal was arrested and charged with driving under the influence.

In Rhode Island, Onasi Olio-Rojas was driving over 100 mph and got seriously injured in an accident while streaming on Facebook live. Rescuers had to remove Rojas from the car and he was in critical condition.

smart phone

Being on Facebook live and driving can cause serious personal injuries to drivers, passengers, and other vehicles. Be smart when driving and do not become distracted by your phone. Everything on your phone can wait until your car has come to a complete stop and been turned off.

The simple rule is don’t drive while live. For the record, it’s 100 percent illegal to hold your phone while driving and second it’s 100 percent illegal to hold your phone while driving and going live. View § 3316.  Prohibiting text-based communications. To see Pennsylvania’s laws on texting while driving.

Aggressive driving enforcement in South Central PA

South Central Pennsylvania’s law enforcement agencies have joined the Pennsylvania State Police and municipal agencies statewide in conducting targeted aggressive driving enforcement from July 6 through August 28.

41 local agencies came in contact with 3,233 vehicles total during this time period, 3,085 of these stops were related to aggressive driving and the drivers received citations. 2,093 of the stops resulted in the driver receiving speeding violation citations.

Speeding remains the most common aggressive driving-related behavior observed by law enforcement officials. Speeding is also a main factor in many car accidents.

Seven drivers were arrested for impaired driving; five were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol only; one person was arrested for driving under the influence of drugs, and one person was arrested for driving under the influence of both alcohol and drugs.

The officers also cited people for not wearing seatbelts or not following child passenger safety laws. 104 citations were issued; 78 of these citations were issued to unbuckled drivers 18 years of age and over.

The wave of aggressive driving enforcement focused on drivers who were observed speeding, tailgating, and running red lights. The drivers who exhibited other unsafe behaviors such as driving too fast for certain conditions (construction, rain, etc.), texting and driving, or violating Pennsylvania’s Steer Clear Law were also issued citations.

Pennsylvania’s “Steer Clear Law” requires drivers to move over or slow down when they encounter an emergency scene, traffic stop or disabled vehicle. There were four citations issued to drivers who violated the Steer Clear Law during this time.

This enforcement effort was a part of Pennsylvania’s Aggressive Driving Enforcement and Education Project and is partly funded by PennDOT’s investment of federal funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Visit Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation website to see other projects going on in the state.

Also check out the Pennsylvania Traffic Safety Enforcement Resource Center.

Seat belt use during the holiday season

The Pennsylvania State Police and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) invite parents and caregivers to make this holiday season a safer one by taking advantage of free car seat checks across the state that will complement the nationwide Click It or Ticket “Operation Safe Holiday” enforcement effort occurring from November 20 through December 4.

Troopers and other department members certified as Child Passenger Safety Technicians will conduct no-cost car seat fittings, at various locations no appointment necessary. Car seats will be checked for suitability, and participants will receive instruction on proper installation and child restraint. For a complete list of child passenger seat fitting stations, please visit http://www.psp.pa.gov.

Under Pennsylvania law, children under the age of four must be properly restrained in an approved child safety seat. A new provision, signed into law this summer, mandates that children under two-years-old be secured in a rear-facing car seat. Children from age four to age eight must use an appropriate booster seat.

“Seat-belts and child passenger safety seats save lives when used properly,” said Major Edward Hoke, Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Patrol Director. Troopers will be issuing citations for seat-belt and child-seat violations as part of the enforcement effort.

Children ages eight to 18 must wear a seatbelt when riding anywhere in a vehicle and all drivers and front-seat passengers 18-years-old and older are required to buckle up.

Part of Penn DOT’s mission is to educate the public on safety concerns and encourage them to do the right things while driving to protect themselves and their families from harm or injury. They are working with law enforcement to urge travelers to always buckle up and never drive impaired by drugs or alcohol.

During enforcement operations, law enforcement will conduct seat belt and impaired driving enforcement simultaneously because unbelted and impaired driving crashes are shown to be significant contributors to traffic injuries and deaths, especially during nighttime hours

According to Penn DOT data, during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period in 2015, including the weekend before and after the holiday as well as the day itself, there were 4,029 crashes and 45 fatalities in those crashes statewide. The Christmas and New Year’s travel periods, including the weekend before Christmas, New Year’s and the weekend after, saw 4,985 crashes and 46 fatalities.

Additionally, during the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays last year, 1,209 of the statewide crashes involved a driver impaired by drugs or alcohol, with 38 fatalities in those crashes. In that same period, there were 1,076 crashes with unbuckled occupants, with 48 fatalities in those crashes.

Officials also encouraged travelers to use the Safer Ride app. The app, developed in 2014 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in an effort to curb drunk driving, is available for free download on Android and Apple devices and is a great option to facilitate a safe ride home after you’ve been drinking. Once the app is downloaded, you can use it to call a taxi or a friend by identifying your location so you can be picked up.

For more information on Penn Dot’s highway safety efforts during the holiday seasons visit, http://www.penndot.gov/safety.

This article was last updated on January 19, 2017. 

  PennDOT wants to test driverless cars

PennDOT has applied to make Pennsylvania a testing ground for a pilot federal project designed to prepare for the kind of self-driving cars. “We submitted a very thorough application detailing our safety standards,” said Pocono the Raceway President and CEO Brandon Igdalsky.

Pennsylvania’s interest comes in response to a U.S. Department of Transportation request for applicants to be designated as an Automated Vehicle Proving Ground for a federally run project to study a technology that’s already here. Companies such as Tesla, Ford, and BMW have signaled that automated cars are going to be the future of motor vehicles in the years to come.

Automated vehicle companies can legally test self-driving vehicles on Pennsylvania’s roads now without special permission. However, as of now, Pennsylvania law does require that someone occupy the driver’s seat while the vehicle is in use.

Pocono Raceway officials say their 2.5-mile, three-turn track is the perfect place to test this emerging technology in the state. Nicknamed the Tricky Triangle for its unusual configuration, the raceway, infield and parking areas can be transformed into a variety of tracks that can challenge even the most sophisticated computers.

Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that more than 90 percent of accidents are due to human error or human choices and many believe that when you remove that element from the equation, you make driving safer.

John Schubert, a member of the Lehigh Valley Coalition for Appropriate Transportation and a member of a national task force on autonomous vehicles, says that he will need to see a lot of data before he’s convinced that self-driving cars are as adept at detecting bicyclists and pedestrians as they do cars and trucks. He is also hopeful that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Pennsylvania will take their time in making sure that they do.

Hundreds of people die every day because of human error and Schubert believes that eventually, the computer will do fewer stupid things than humans. Scientists say autonomous cars can even help move traffic along more quickly because they have the ability to talk with other self-driving cars to detect upcoming signals and congestion zones, enabling them to choose alternate routes on the fly.

PennDOT has a task force that’s been studying the issue since last June and it has designated a safety officer to comply with the federal pilot. It is unclear how soon Penn DOT will know if Pennsylvania will be chosen for the pilot, but the federal guidelines require that each testing facility is ready by Jan. 1, 2018.

State officials say, if chosen, PennDOT will oversee the pilot in Pennsylvania, but private companies testing the cars, such as Uber, will work directly with the testing facilities.

Resources: http://www.mcall.com/business/mc-pa-driverless-cars-20170110-story.html

This article was last updated on January 19, 2017. 

Penn DOT and Governor give safety tips for driving in winter weather

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Governor Tom Wolf give safety tips for driving in the winter.

  • Carry a cellphone and a winter emergency travel kit.
  • Listen to weather and travel advisories, if you don’t have to travel in bad weather, don’t.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full.
  • Slow down and increase following distance between you and other cars.
  • Do not pass or get between trucks plowing in a plow line (several trucks plowing side by side).
  • Use your low beams in particularly bad weather, especially in cases of heavy or blowing snow.
  • Avoid abrupt stops and starts.
  • Remove ice and snow from windows, mirrors and all vehicle lights before you drive and as often as needed.
  • Make sure someone else knows where you are going and when you expect to arrive.
  • If you do become stranded, it’s better to stay with your vehicle until help arrives. Run the engine every hour or so, but make sure the tailpipe is clear and keep the downwind window cracked open.
  • Do not drink and drive, and always wear your seat belt.
  • Beware of roads that may look wet, but are actually frozen, often referred to as “black ice.”
  • Use extra caution on bridges and ramps, where ice can often form without warning.
  • Do not use cruise control while driving on snow-covered roads.
  • Turn on your headlights when your wipers are on.
  • Remove snow and ice from the hood and roof of your vehicle. If snow or ice from your vehicle strikes a vehicle or person and causes death or injury, you can be ticketed.
  • Do not park or abandon your vehicle on snow emergency routes.

 

Being prepared is the best thing to do in order to successfully navigate winter roads. Winter weather can bring unexpected conditions, so make sure that both you and your vehicle are ready for ice and snow.

Click here to view a winter service guide that can help you stay safe during the winter weather.

Resources: http://www.penndot.gov/RegionalOffices/district-1/Pages/details.aspx?newsid=126

This article was last updated on January 19, 2017.

Pennsylvania’s ‘Ride on Red’ Law Takes Effect

Act 101, more commonly known as Pennsylvania’s co-called “Ride on Red” law, went into effect on September 18. The law allows motorists in all types of vehicles to proceed through red lights if traffic-control signals are out of operation or are not functioning properly.

The legislation was sponsored by Representative Stephen Bloom of Cumberland County, who sought to change the law after being approached by motorcycle organizations that wanted solutions to situations in which bikes failed to trigger traffic lights to change, according to The Patriot-News. While the bill was originally designed specifically for motorcycles, it was ultimately expanded to apply to all vehicles.

“This law does not give drivers a free pass, but ensures a safe and legal option to avoid the danger and inconvenience of being trapped in perpetuity at a locked red light,” Bloom said, according to The Patriot-News. “This issue is more common than many people realize, especially on rural roads and during late hours when long periods often elapse before a heavier vehicle comes along to finally trip the unresponsive light.”

In applicable situations, motorists are expected to treat red lights like stop signs and proceed with caution. While the law is intended to apply only to broken or malfunctioning lights, there is some understandable concern that some more impatient drivers may use the law to pass through any red lights they believe are taking too long to change.

Red Light Crashes in West Chester, PA

The new law does not specifically state how long motorists must wait before proceeding through red lights. The people who are expected to benefit the most are drivers in rural parts of the state with less traffic, but it remains to be seen how often motorists in busier more urban areas might use the belief of a red light being out of operation or not functioning properly as a defense against any tickets for running a red light.

More importantly, allowing more drivers to pass through red lights could increase the chances of motor vehicle accidents. According to the National Coalition for Safer Roads, more than 3.7 million drivers in the United States ran a red light in 2014. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says 709 people were killed and an estimated 126,000 were injured in crashes that involved red light running that same year.

Drivers who rush to get through red lights can be at risk of causing catastrophic crashes that result in serious injuries for all people involved. Oncoming drivers may be powerless to avoid collisions that can result in broken bones, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), or death.

The Ride on Red law certainly comes as a relief to many motorcyclists who have been stuck at unresponsive lights, but drivers of other types of vehicles still need to be especially cautious in deciding to proceed at intersections in which they believe a traffic signal may be out of operation or not functioning properly. In virtually every case, it is far safer for a motorist to simply wait for a light to change than attempting to turn into or pass through an intersection where the light is red.

If you suffered serious injuries or your loved one was killed in any kind of automobile accident in which a negligent driver ran a red light, it will be critical for you to seek legal representation as soon as possible. Contact an experienced West Chester personal injury lawyer today to get a free review your case that will help you understand what compensation you might be entitled to for any medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.

Study Reveals Thousands of Drivers Playing ‘Pokemon Go’ While Behind Wheel

‘Pokemon Go’ is a free location-based augmented reality game (a video game that allows players to experience digital gameplay in a real-world environment) that created a worldwide craze when it was released this past July. Players use their mobile devices to locate, capture, battle, or train virtual creatures, and the popularity of the game was not without criticism.

Some people complained about players using the app in sensitive locations such as the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum or Arlington National Cemetery, and many other players suffered serious injuries or were killed because they entered dangerous settings or ignored certain real-life hazards while playing the game. On September 16, JAMA Internal Medicine published a study that demonstrated yet another concern about people using “Pokemon Go” at inopportune times: Playing while driving.

The study’s authors searched Twitter postings (tweets) containing the terms “Pokémon” and “driving,” “drives,” “drive,” or “car” for July 10 through 19, 2016, as well as Google News reports that included “Pokémon” and “driving” published from July 10 to 20, 2016. The Google News results yielded 321 story clusters, but the researchers found that the 33 percent of tweets indicating that a driver, passenger, or pedestrian was distracted by “Pokemon Go” suggested there were 113,993 total incidences reported on Twitter in just 10 days.

While the findings were certainly concerning, one of the study’s authors, John Ayers, told NPR that the analysts knew they were undercounting because not all players use social media and the study did not reveal how many of the players were involved in automobile accidents. The study noted that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among essentially the game’s primary audience: 16- to 24-year-olds.

Catherine McDonald, an assistant professor of nursing in the Family and Community Health Department at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and a Senior Fellow with the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told NPR that young people may prioritize the game over the road. “The gaming aspect or the collecting of Pokemon and the competition aspect may outweigh some of the [safety] risks for them,” McDonald told NPR.

Distracted Driving Accidents in West Chester, PA

Even before mobile devices became more commonplace in society, motorists were still susceptible to various distractions that posed certain risks for others on the road. Generally, there are three types of possible distractions:

  • Visual — A distraction that takes a driver’s eyes off the road;
  • Manual — A distraction that takes a driver’s hands off the wheel; and
  • Cognitive — A distraction that takes a driver’s mind off of the task at hand.

The amplified danger of “Pokemon Go” is that people who are playing the game while driving are subject to all three of these kinds of distractions. Much like people who text while driving, “Pokemon Go” players are at increased risk of causing motor vehicle accidents.

Innocent people involved in crashes caused by distracted drivers may sustain any one of a number of catastrophic injuries, including paralysis, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), or death. Negligent drivers will not necessarily admit that they had been preoccupied with “Pokemon Go” or something else on their mobile devices, which is why it is critical for any person who was hurt or had a loved one killed by a distracted driver to immediately retain legal counsel.

An experienced West Chester personal injury attorney can investigate the cause of a car crash and subpoena a negligent driver’s phone records, if necessary, to prove that the motorist was distracted. Contact a lawyer today if you suffered serious injuries or your loved one was killed by a distracted driver so you can get help obtaining compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and your pain and suffering.

Who is Liable in an Accident with a Self-Driving Car?

Self-Driving Cars in Chester County, Pennsylvania

 As technology continues to evolve and become increasingly capable of handling complex tasks, car manufacturers and technology companies are in a mad race to develop fully functioning driver-less cars.

Companies such as Uber, Ford, and Google have such a huge stake in the development of driverless cars that they have teamed up to create the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets to help ensure policies are created to further their ‘self-driven’ interests.

Uber-CMU Partnership Makes an Abrupt Stop in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania will play a substantial role in the advancement of self-driving cars. After all, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is the birthplace of autonomous vehicle (AV) technology. However, after collaborating with Uber for only one year to advance AV technology, the Uber-Carnegie Mellon partnership has come to an abrupt halt. Could this be because they realized self-driving cars pose a serious threat to public safety?

If you were involved in an automobile accident, motorcycle accident, commercial truck accident, or bicycle accident in West Chester, Philadelphia, or Lancaster, PA, and have medical bills or have been unable to work due to injuries from the accident, contact the team of attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices at (610) 719-3190.

The Ciccarelli Law Offices have experienced personal injury attorneys with extensive experience recouping monetary losses stemming from car accidents. Ciccarelli Law Offices have multiple locations throughout Pennsylvania, including; West Chester, Springfield, Kennett Square, and Philadelphia.

It is important that you immediately consult an experienced personal injury attorney to preserve your case and recuperate your losses. Contact the Ciccarelli Law Offices at (610) 719-3190.

Driver-less Cars May Endanger West Chester, PA Motorists

Since the early 1890s, automobiles have been under the direct control of human beings. That constant may soon change within the next decade when operating systems “take the wheel” and begin controlling automobiles.

According to PennDot (Pennsylvania Department of Transportation), passenger cars made up more than 55% of the car crashes that occurred in West Chester, Springfield, and Pennsylvania as a whole.  The large number of passenger vehicles involved in car accidents could be contributed to distracted driving.

Drivers have become more distracted over the years with production of products and features commonly used while driving, such as car radios, cell phones, text messaging, GPS systems, and display screens in the driver’s view. One could present a compelling argument that technology and automobiles aren’t a very good combination.

Recently, a Florida man was killed while his Tesla’s autopilot feature was engaged, which prompted the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue a letter stating that it is investigating all Tesla vehicles equipped with any version of their “Autopilot Technology Package”.

With a 5% increase in the total number of car accidents in Pennsylvania, self-driving cars using busy highways such as US 322, PA 162, and PA 842 is a major concern for drivers in Philadelphia, Lancaster, and other cities throughout Pennsylvania. Especially when high-end car manufacturers like Tesla are having difficulty creating an autopilot feature that can simply distinguish a massive truck from the sky.

Keystone State Politics and Self-Driving Cars

Seven other states and the District of Columbia currently have legislation that authorizes self-driving cars to use public roads in some capacity. To help update Pennsylvania’s transportation legislation, a newly-formed think tank has been charged with assisting PennDot draft policies for autonomous vehicles.

The Autonomous Vehicles Policy Task Force is comprised of Pennsylvania legislators, transportation officials, and other key figures with public safety experience. As of July 2016, Pennsylvania legislatures have proposed State Senate Bill 1268 to the transportation committee, which would permit the testing of automated vehicle once a company has provided proof of $5 million in general liability insurance.

Common Types of Collision Injuries in West Chester, PA

A person involved in a motor vehicle accident could sustain a number of different injuries. A few of the injuries that could result from a car accident include:

  • Head – Traumatic brain injuries, concussions, coma, to lasting cognitive problems.
  • Back – herniated disk, spinal cord injuries which could result in paralysis
  • Neck – whiplash, neck pain, swelling, and temporary vocal cord paralysis
  • Chest –trauma to chest area, broken ribs, collapsed lungs, traumatic cardiac arrest
  • Other injuries – broken bones, torn ligaments, severed or amputated limbs, post-traumatic stress disorder

 Injuries caused by automobile accidents can get costly and become a huge burden for the victims involved. Some injuries may present themselves immediately after the accident, while others may go undiscovered for months after the accident. This is why it is important to contact the team of attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices at (610) 719-3190 so we can immediately help preserve your case.

The Future of Self-Driving Cars in Pennsylvania

 As self-driving cars are being tested on the streets of Pennsylvania, creating potential hazards for many drivers, confusion exists as to what impact autonomous cars will have on the law and personal injury cases. With so many unknowns, it is important to have a highly experienced attorney working on your behalf.

The team of attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices have years of extensive experience dealing with car accident victims. From the initial consultation, the seasoned attorneys will work together to obtain the best possible result in your case.

If you were involved in an automobile accident, motorcycle accident, commercial truck accident, or bicycle accident in West Chester, Philadelphia, or Lancaster, PA, and have medical bills or you have been unable to work due to injuries from the accident, contact the Ciccarelli Law Offices at (610) 719-3190.

Ciccarelli Law Offices have multiple locations throughout Pennsylvania, including; West Chester, Springfield, Kennett Square, and Philadelphia. It is important that you immediately consult an experienced personal injury attorney to preserve your case and recuperate your losses.

References:

http://www.legis.state.pa.us/CFDOCS/Legis/PN/Public/btCheck.cfm?txtType=PDF&sessYr=2015&sessInd=0&billBody=S&billTyp=B&billNbr=1268&pn=1835

http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Supreme/out/J-80-2013mo%20-%201020173292832303.pdf?cb=1

http://www.penndot.gov/TravelInPA/Safety/Documents/2014_CFB_linked.pdf

http://news.psu.edu/story/329056/2014/10/07/research/probing-question-will-americans-accept-self-driving-cars