PennDOT encourages driver license and identification holders to help others in need of organ and tissue transplants live longer, better lives by registering to be an organ donor.
Nearly 46 percent of driver's license and identification card holders are registered organ donors - that's more than 4.5 million Pennsylvanians. More than 8,500 Pennsylvanians currently await organ transplants.
To add the organ donor designation to an existing driver's license or identification card today, visit www.dmv.state.pa.us and select the "Donate Life Pennsylvania" icon at the bottom of the page. Once the designation is added, individuals will receive a designation card that they will have to carry with them to affirm organ donor status until they renew or replace their driver's license or identification card. There is no charge for adding the designation to your driver's license or identification card.
Driver's license and identification card holders, as well as registered vehicle owners, can also support organ donation programs by donating $1 to the Robert P. Casey Memorial Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Trust Fund at the time of application, renewal or replacement. Proceeds from the fund are used to educate and promote awareness of the organ donor program through non-profit organizations like the Center for Organ Recovery and Education and the Gift of Life Donor Program. Pennsylvanians have generously donated more than $11.5 million to the fund to date.
As part of ongoing efforts to increase awareness of organ and tissue donation, video monitors featuring educational content are installed at 20 PennDOT driver's license centers. More information on organ and tissue donation in Pennsylvania can be found at www.donatelife-pa.org.
Pennsylvania Records Lowest Number of Traffic Deaths Ever (updated 4/8/14)
The number of highway deaths on Pennsylvania roads tumbled to a record low last year when 1,208 were recorded, the lowest number since recordkeeping began in 1928.
"Though Pennsylvania has made significant progress in reducing highway crashes and deaths, our efforts to ensure that all travelers reach their destinations safely will remain paramount," said PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch. "However, our efforts cannot reach their potential if drivers refuse to do their part by observing traffic laws and always using common sense on our roads."
While the number of highway deaths dropped in many types of crashes, there were significant decreases noted in unbuckled, speeding and single vehicle run-off-the-road related deaths. Unbuckled fatalities dropped from 503 in 2012 to 425. Speeding-related fatalities also decreased from 262 in 2012 to 193 last year. Deaths attributed to single-vehicle, run-off-the-road crashes declined to 566, down from 648 in 2012.
Another area where significant numbers were noted includes fatalities in crashes involving a drinking driver which decreased from 377 in 2012 to 342 last year, the lowest number since 1997 when this data collection began.
Fatalities increased in some types of crashes, including those involving distracted drivers and in head-on or opposite direction side swipe crashes. There were 64 fatalities in crashes involving distracted drivers, up from 57 in 2012. Also, deaths in head-on or opposite direction side swipe crashes increased to 178 up from 148 in 2012.
PennDOT has invested $50 million over the last five years for safety improvements at approximately 4,000 locations. These include low-cost safety measures such as centerline and edge-line rumble strips.
PennDOT also invests about $20 million annually in state and federal funds for safety education and enforcement efforts statewide.
Fatalities in crashes involving drivers ages 75 and older also increased to 142 from 126 in 2012. To help address safe driving in this age group, PennDOT offers information on approved Mature Driver Improvement courses available statewide, a brochure on talking with mature drivers and other safety tips at its highway safety information website, www.JustDrivePA.com.
Governor Corbett Announces New Veterans Designation on Driver Licenses and Identification Cards (updated 3/5/14)
Surrounded by veterans and members of the Pennsylvania National Guard, Governor Tom Corbett kicked off the new Veterans Designation for Pennsylvania driver's licenses and identification cards.
The designation, an American flag with the word "Veteran" beneath it, will appear on the front of the license or identification card.
"The brave men and women who put their lives on the line as part of their service to this country deserve to be fully recognized for their efforts," Corbett said. "I am proud to be here as we kick off one more way we honor the service of our veterans here in Pennsylvania."
Qualified applicants for a Veterans Designation include those who have received a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty/DD214 or equivalent, for service in the United States Armed Forces, including a reserve component, or the National Guard who were discharged or released from such service under conditions other than dishonorable.
There is no fee for the Veterans Designation, however regular renewal or duplicate fees still apply. Forms for driver's license or ID renewals and duplicates now have a box for applicants to certify that they are a veteran, and to have the designation added. Once the Veterans Designation has been added to a driver's license or identification card, it will automatically appear each time the card is renewed.
Veterans holding a non-commercial driver's license or identification card can immediately apply for the designation by visiting www.dmv.state.pa.us and clicking on the American Flag/Veterans Designation icon.
To renew a commercial driver's license (CDL) and add the Veterans Designation, applicants must complete and mail in a DL-143CD form and applicable fees. To obtain a duplicate CDL with the Veterans Designation, applicants must complete and mail in a DL-80CD form and applicable fees.
The designation was authorized by Act 176 of 2012.
New Law Encourages Motorcycle Learner's Permit Holders to Obtain Proper Training, Motorcycle Driver's License (updated 2/26/14)
With an eye toward motorcycle safety for the 2014 riding season and beyond, new legislation limiting the number of times a motorcycle learner's permit holder may reapply for a permit is now in effect.
Under Act 126, signed into law by Governor Corbett on Dec. 23, 2013, a person may reapply for a motorcycle learner's permit no more than three times in a five-year period and must successfully pass the motorcycle knowledge test each time.
The law also prohibits PennDOT from renewing a person's motorcycle learner's permit, thus enabling riders to continue to learn to ride a motorcycle properly while pushing them to actually get their motorcycle driver's license - instead of continuing to renew the motorcycle permit.
Help is available to assist riders in successfully obtaining their motorcycle driver's license. The Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program (PAMSP) offers free motorcycle safety courses to Pennsylvania residents who have a motorcycle learner's permit or motorcycle driver's license. Training courses include classroom instruction and are conducted on a riding range under the supervision of certified rider coaches. Courses are available at many locations throughout Pennsylvania during the riding season. For more information please visit www.pamsp.com.
As the result of recent legislation, in addition to the standard horizontal motorcycle license plate, PennDOT now offers motorcycle license plates designed to be displayed vertically. The vertical plates are available for a fee of $20, and can be obtained by visiting www.dmv.state.pa.us.
PennDOT, State Police Advise Motorists to Steer Clear of Emergency Responders (updated 10/21/13)
State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan reminds motorists to "steer clear" of police, emergency responders, road crews and tow-truck operators while they carry out their duties.
"When you see law enforcement personnel stopped to write citations or responding to crashes and disabled vehicles, please make sure you proceed with caution and pass on the left," Noonan said. "It could be a matter of life or death for the first responder."
In August 2013, a state police trooper was injured when a motor home struck the rear of his patrol car on the shoulder of Interstate 78 in Lebanon County. Another state trooper was hurt when he was struck by an SUV while issuing a citation to a motorist along Interstate 81 in Dauphin County.
Noonan reminded drivers that Pennsylvania's Steer Clear Law requires motorists to move to a lane that is not immediately adjacent to an emergency response area. Such areas include locations where police are making traffic stops, where highway or construction workers are involved in emergency assistance, or where tow trucks are responding to disabled vehicles.
If drivers cannot move over because of traffic or other conditions, they must proceed at a speed that is "reasonable and prudent," according to the law.
The law applies any time an emergency vehicle has its lights flashing and where road crews or emergency personnel have lighted flares or have posted signs or other traffic control devices.
Failure to move over or slow down can result in a summary offense that carries a fine of up to $250. In addition, fines will be doubled for other traffic violations occurring in these areas. If the violation leads to a first responder being injured, a 90-day license suspension could result.
"Our goal is not to write citations, but make sure our personnel are safe," Noonan said.
Customers to Receive Snowmobile, ATV Renewals Faster with New PennDOT, DCNR Partnership (updated 7/19/13)
PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch and Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Acting Secretary Ellen Ferretti recently announced that customers will receive their ATV and snowmobile vehicle registration renewals two to four weeks faster through a new interagency partnership.
In July, PennDOT's state-of-the-art processing and mailing technology began processing DCNR's renewals for consumer snowmobile, ATV and dealer registrations, resulting in customers receiving products within two weeks. Applicants must still mail applications to DCNR, but they are now opened, processed and fulfilled by PennDOT.
"This is a prime example of our efforts through Next Generation to modernize our operations and reduce overlaps in service with other agencies," Schoch said. "With DCNR using PennDOT's existing resources, the process will still be invisible to our customers, but their tax dollars will be paying for a more efficient process."
Previously, registration quarterly renewals were issued and received by DCNR. Upon receiving the registration they were manually processed by staff, generally allowing for a four- to six-week processing time before ATV and snowmobile owners would receive their updated registration.
With temperatures rising and more motorcycles traveling on Pennsylvania roadways, PennDOT is urging motorists to share the road and watch out for motorcycles throughout the riding season.
"I urge all motorists to use common sense, obey the law and keep their attention solely on the task of driving," PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch said. "Our message to all drivers and motorcyclists is to share in the responsibility of keeping all road users safe, and do your part by safely sharing the road."
To help avoid crashes with motorcycles, drivers should treat motorcycles as full-size vehicles with the same privileges as motorists. Motorcycles should be allowed a full-lane width - never try to share a lane - and provided with extra space since motorcycles can stop faster than automobiles. Motorists should also signal their intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic, and be especially watchful for approaching motorcycles.
Motorists are cautioned that because of motorcycles' size, they can be hidden by larger vehicles or be difficult to see. Drivers should also remember that road and weather conditions that are typically minor annoyances to motorists can pose major hazards to motorcyclists.
Motorcyclists should wear appropriate, brightly colored protective gear, using stickers or reflective tape to increase visibility; use turn signals combined with hand signals for every turn or lane change; and position themselves in the lane where they will be most visible to other drivers and never ride while impaired.
PennDOT data shows that nearly 4,000 crashes involving motorcycles occurred on Pennsylvania roadways in 2012, resulting in 210 motorcyclist fatalities. The number of registered motorcycles in Pennsylvania increased in 2012 by more than 5,500, while the number of licensed motorcyclists increased by more than 8,000.
Additional safety tips for motorists sharing the road with motorcycles are available on PennDOT's website, www.DriveSafePA.org, under the Traffic Safety Information Center. Motorcyclists can find information on safety and training by visiting PennDOT's interactive motorcycle website, www.LiveFreeRideAlive.com.
Governor Corbett Proclaims May Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month (Updated 5/6/13)
With the increasing popularity of motorcycling in Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Corbett has signed a proclamation commemorating May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.
"More people are traveling Pennsylvania roadways on their motorcycles, but it's important that riders and motorists alike are sharing the road safely," Corbett said. "If car, truck and motorcycle operators follow simple steps like looking out for each other and obeying speed limits, we can work together to reduce the number of crashes and highway deaths we see each year."
Last year in Pennsylvania there were 854,493 licensed motorcyclists, a 13 percent increase from a decade ago, and 409,017 registered motorcycles, 54 percent higher than a decade ago. PennDOT data shows there were nearly 4,000 crashes involving motorcycles statewide last year, resulting in 210 fatalities. This marks an increase from 2011 when there more than 3,600 crashes involving motorcycles and 199 fatalities in those crashes.
Motorcycle safety was emphasized with Corbett's signing of Act 84 of 2012, which requires motorcycle permit holders under 18 years old to take and successfully complete the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program's (PAMSP) Basic Rider Course (BRC) in order to receive their license.
The 15-hour BRC consists of five hours of in-class instruction and 10 hours of practical riding experience. The course provides valuable training for new riders and gives experienced riders the opportunity to polish their skills and correct any unsafe riding habits they may have developed. Students taking the BRC are provided with a motorcycle and helmet; however, students are responsible for providing all other protective gear. The 15 hours of training count toward the required 65 hours of training a permit holder under 18 must complete in order to receive their license.
The PAMSP offers a variety of training to help develop safe riding skills for all motorcyclists, no matter how experienced or inexperienced the rider. The courses include: the six-hour Basic Rider Course 2 (BRC2); the eight-hour Advanced Rider Course (ARC); and the 12-hour 3-Wheeled Motorcycle Basic Rider Course (3WBRC).
For more information on motorcycle rider training or to schedule a course, visit www.pamsp.com or call 1-800-845-9533, Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and noon.
PennDOT Urges Motorists to Avoid Distractions, Focus on Driving (updated 4/12/13)
As part of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, PennDOT today urged motorists to drive distraction free, and reminded drivers of the state's law banning text-based communication while driving.
Distracted driving can include such actions as:
talking on a cell phone or texting;
adjusting devices such as radios and GPSs;
attending to children or pets, and
interacting with other passengers in the vehicle.
While all drivers should avoid distractions; for young, novice drivers, distracted driving can compound the inexperience factor and increase the risk of crash. Last March, a state law went into effect banning text-based communication while driving. Violating the law is a primary offense carrying a $50 fine.
According to PennDOT data, more than 14,600 crashes involved a distracted driver in Pennsylvania in 2012, with 57 deaths in those crashes. Over the past five years, nearly 11 percent of Pennsylvania crashes involved a driver distraction, resulting in more than 300 fatalities statewide.
To help avoid distractions while driving, PennDOT recommends that drivers follow these simple safety tips:
Store or turn off cell phones while driving. If you must make an emergency call, safely pull over to the side of the road.
If traveling alone, set your GPS, radio and temperature controls before hitting the road.
If traveling with pets, be sure that they are properly restrained. Better yet, leave them at home. Even a minor crash can result in a major injury to a pet if it is not properly restrained.
Never operate your vehicle and attend to a child at the same time.
If you drop an object while driving, leave it until you reach your destination.
For more information on distracted driving and the state's anti-texting law, visit www.JustDrivePA.com.