She worked on the legislation for six years and, Tuesday, Rep. Kathy Watson (R-Bucks) was able to see the fruits of her labor. “I wouldn’t have stayed with it this long if I truly didn’t believe we will save lives with this,” Watson said in an interview with Radio PA.
The new law will limit junior drivers to one teenage passenger for their first six months behind the wheel, add 15-hours of nighttime and bad weather driving to driver training requirements and make seatbelt requirements a primary offense for drivers and passengers under the age of 18.
By making seatbelt use a primary offense for minors, police officers will be able to stop a driver solely for that violation. Governor Tom Corbett calls this the next step in keeping Pennsylvania children safe. “Can we put them in that bubble and keep everybody completely safe, no. But, every step is an improvement to that,” Corbett said while signing the new law at Harrisburg High School.
Corbett also made it clear that cell phone legislation is on deck. “The legislature has a texting bill,” Corbett said. “I want that passed. Can I be any clearer than that?” The mechanics of hand-held cellphone and texting while driving bans have long been a sticking point in the General Assembly. Speaking on the House floor, Tuesday, Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) expressed his intention to pass separate bills to address hand-held cellphones and texting.
Rep. Watson supports drivers’ cellphone bans, but says she left the language out of her teen driver safety bill because the issue affects all drivers. “It doesn’t matter if you’re texting when you’re 18, or 38, or 68, it’s not safe,” Watson says.