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Tougher Laws for Teen Drivers to Take Effect in Pennsylvania

Starting Tuesday, drivers under the age of 18 will face more stringent requirements for obtaining a driver's license, and more restrictions when they first get one.

The new law adds 15 hours of supervised, behind-the-wheel training for driver's license permit holders younger than 18. That brings the total to 65 hours. Ten of those additional hours must be completed after dark, and five of them in poor weather conditions.

"I think it's safe to say that the more you practice, the better you are," said Jan McKnight, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, "and this allows teen drivers to actually experience nighttime driving and inclement weather driving, which is important."

Under the new law, drivers younger than 18 will not be allowed to give rides to more than one person who's younger than 18 and not an immediate family member, unless accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. After having a driver's license for six months, they'll be allowed to transport up to three passengers under the age of 18, but only if they've not been convicted of a driving violation or been partially or fully responsible for a reportable crash.

"With this new law, you'll know that the kids who are behind the wheel, teens — the most vulnerable drivers — will have more practice. They will be supervised. Their friends and family will be safely secured in the seat. It's important for the teens, their families, and everyone who faces the teens when they're driving," said McKnight.

The law also requires drivers and passengers younger than 18 to wear a seat belt, and requires children younger than eight to be fastened in a child restraint system. The seat belt provisions of the new law are primary offenses, so a driver can be pulled over and cited solely for that offense. It's a secondary offense for drivers over the age of 18.