AAA Names Tomlinson 'Legislator of the Year'
He was chosen for his work to improve teen driver safety.
State Sen. Robert M. "Tommy" Tomlinson of Bucks County (R-6th) was honored by AAA Mid-Atlantic as Pennsylvania Senate Legislator of the Year for his efforts to improve Teen Driver Safety in Pennsylvania.
Tomlinson sponsored the Senate version House Bill 9, Pennsylvania’s new Junior Driver Law (Lacey’s Law), signed by Governor Corbett last October and effective statewide on Dec. 27.
Pennsylvania’s Junior Driver Law limits teen drivers to a single non-family passenger during the first six months of driving. The new law also increases the requirement for teen drivers to have 65 hours behind-the-wheel, from the 50 hours under the current law. Ten of the 65 hours must be at night and at least five must be in inclement weather. Finally, the law requires everyone under the age of 18 in a vehicle to be properly buckled up, whether in a seat belt or child safety or booster seat. As a primary offense, law enforcement can pull over a driver if they see that someone under the age of 18 is not buckled up properly.
“We applaud Sen. Tomlinson for his leadership and steadfast commitment to improve teen driver safety in Pennsylvania,” says Ronald W. Kosh, VP of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “His efforts to strengthen Pennsylvania’s Graduated Driver’s Licensing (GDL) law will result in increased safety measures for teen drivers and all motorists in the Commonwealth, leading to fewer teen crashes and ultimately saving lives.”
“It’s been a long road, but I’m proud that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania now has a stronger Graduated Driver’s Licensing law focused on improving teen driver safety and the safety of all motorists,” said Sen. Tomlinson. “In addition to my fellow legislators, I thank AAA for their continued support on behalf of this critical safety issue.”
AAA Mid-Atlantic also thanks Sen. Tomlinson for successfully sponsoring a bill to ban texting while driving in Pennsylvania. The bill was signed into law by Governor Corbett and takes effect March 8.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States. Studies show that a 16-year-old’s chances of dying in a crash increase exponentially with each passenger added to the vehicle. For example, 16-year-olds driving with one teen passenger were 39 percent more likely to be killed in crashes than those driving alone. Two passenger increases that likelihood 86 percent and three or more teen passengers increases that chance 182 percent. “The teen driver fatality rate is four times that of adults,” Kosh says.
However, it is not only teen drivers, but their passengers and other drivers on the road who are at risk. In crashes involving young drivers, two other individuals on the road are killed for every teen driver killed. Two-thirds of all fatal motor vehicle injuries to teenage passengers have occurred with a teen driver at the wheel.”
In Pennsylvania last year, fatalities in crashes that involved a 16- or 17-year old driver increased 43 percent over 2009. To date, 44 states, including all the states surrounding Pennsylvania, have enacted some form of a teen passenger limit.
Although junior driver passenger limits may put more teen drivers on the road, studies have shown that with a reduced number of young passengers, each of those teen drivers is a safer driver. In a recent poll of AAA members across the Commonwealth, 96 percent favored teen passenger limits.