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Local Municipal Police Departments Join to Raise Awareness of Seat Belt Laws
September 27, 2013
Clearfield Two local police departments partnered last week to remind teens of Pennsylvania’s seat belt laws. 

Clearfield Borough Police Department conducted a detail, with cooperation from the Lawrence Township Police Department, 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 seat belt usage through increased enforcement, public awareness and education. 

Officers at the school yesterday 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 seat belt.

The Clearfield Borough Police Department was one of 220 law enforcement agencies across the state awarded funds for a special Teen Seat Belt 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 crashes. Of those teens, 92 were not wearing a seat belt, 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 seat belt.
 
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 crash 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 crash while a junior driver, they are once again restricted to one passenger.

The fine for conviction of a seat belt law violation in Pennsylvania is $60 for teens.

Pennsylvania’s seat-belt usage rate was 83.5 percent in 2012, a decrease from 83.8 percent in 2011.

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