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Pennsylvania Road Safety

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Located in the the Mid-Atlantic region of the United states, Pennsylvania has the proud heritage of being one of the country's original thirteen colonies. It also has the sixth largest population of any state in the nation, and it ranks ninth in population density. The Appalachian Mountains cut through the middle of the state, which means that Pennsylvania, at times, can see severe weather patterns. In addition, a national report stated that 37% of the local and rural roads have been graded as poor or mediocre. All of these factors mean that car safety is very important in the state of Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania's Geographic Zones

The state is made up of five geographic zones: the Atlantic Coastal Plain, the Piedmont, the Ridge and Valley, the Allegheny Plateau, and the Erie Plain. Although Pennsylvania's landscape isn't the most diverse in the nation, each zone offers distinctive features, including plains, mountains, and forests. Drivers will encounter a variety of weather patterns throughout the year, and there are different types of terrain. There also are both large, urban areas and sparsely populated rural ones.

Of the original thirteen colonies, Pennsylvania is the only one to not touch the Atlantic coastline. However, the Atlantic Coastal Plain occupies a small area in the southeastern part of the state, along the Philadelphia to Levittown corridor. The plain offers a flat landscape. The Philadelphia area is the only part of the state that can experience a humid subtropical climate, while most of Pennsylvania has a humid continental climate. Next to the Atlantic Coastal Plain is the Piedmont Plateau. In this area, you'll find low, rolling hills.

To the north and west of the Piedmont is the Ridge and Valley Appalachians. As the name suggests, you'll find high ridges and low valleys in this region. Because of the high elevation, the ridge areas can see significant snowfall in the winter, and navigating the roads can be dangerous. In winter, some areas with high elevation may be covered in snow while the areas with lower elevation are not.

The Allegheny Plateau stretches across the state, from the southwestern corner of to the northeastern corner. Parts of it are glaciated while others are unglaciated. In the unglaciated portions, the elevation can change by up to 400 feet. The glaciated part makes up most of Pennsylvania's central-west area. It contains fertile farm land with few elevation changes.

Located along the state's northwestern edge is the Erie Plain, a narrow strip of land that is only four miles wide at its widest point. It's the only part of the state touching Lake Erie. The plain itself was developed by glaciers, and there is rich farmland in this area as a result.

Driver can encounter different kinds of weather across each region. The northwestern part of the state can experience large blizzards in the winter and tornadoes in the summer. Through the year, there can be precipitation that is challenging to drive through. Drivers in Pennsylvania should be aware of weather conditions before venturing out onto the road and get their vehicles ready for each season. They should also be prepared to encounter rural roads that have been poorly maintained.

The Choice Between At-Fault and No-Fault

In Pennsylvania, drivers can decide between at-fault and no-fault auto insurance coverage. The at-fault option is a traditional system of tort. Drivers who opt for tort law coverage will pay a higher premium than those who choose the no-fault option. Should you be injured in an accident, you'll need to be able to pay for all of your medical expenses. If you're responsible for causing the accident, the other party can take you to court, and you may need to pay for their medical expenses as well as your own.

The no-fault option means that any medical expenses will be taken care of by insurance regardless of whether or not you were responsible for the accident. When an accident occurs, both drivers file a claim with their insurance company in order to gain compensation. There is no process to decide who was at fault. Should you be severely injured in an accident, you can choose to seek compensation outside of the no-fault system. Someone who sustains a permanent disability or disfigurement would qualify to do this.

Pennsylvania's Tiered DUI System

Pennsylvania has introduced a comprehensive DUI, and DUI violations are divided into three tiers depending on the blood alcohol level of the driver. The state's system is different from many others throughout the nation. Some states choose to have 0.08% as the limit for DUI without having increasing penalties for higher levels of blood alcohol. Others have implemented a two tier system. Each of Pennsylvania's tiers carry a more severe penalty than the one beneath it. The tiers are:

  • 0.08-0.099%
  • 0.1-0.159%
  • 0.16% and over

If someone is convicted of any level of DUI, they may face jail time, fines, and license suspension. They may also be required to enter into a drug and alcohol treatment program, take an alcohol safety course, and have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle. Although the state's tiered system is very comprehensive, their maximum limit for license suspensions is 18 months. Other states implement lifetime bans under certain circumstances. DUIs in Pennsylvania are not felony charges unless there is vehicular manslaughter involved.

The Six Point Limit

The way Pennsylvania deals with drivers who have recorded demerit points is also unique in the nation. Should a driver reach six demerit points for the first time, they'll need to pass a safety test. When someone accumulates more than six points, there will be a hearing to determine whether or not their driving privileges will be restricted or suspended. Drivers who go a full year without incurring any more infractions will have three points subtracted from their total. Those who get back down to zero points will have future demerits treated as their first offense.

Drivers in Pennsylvania can choose between a fault or no-fault system when they buy insurance. The state requires all drivers to carry some type of insurance, however.


Pennsylvania Road Safety

Driving laws in Pennsylvania are unique in a number of ways. Be aware of the different road conditions, fault and no-fault options, and DUI penalties in order to stay safe on the road.

Pennsylvania Car Accident Attorneys

There are a number of laws in Pennsylvania to help keep everyone on the road safer. In some cases, you may need to consult with an attorney following an accident.