crossRoads tall

August 2013

Learn what Is happening with motor vehicle & law enforcement agencies across the country.

Region I

Helmet laws cause for concern in Pennsylvania

A debate has been going on for the past 10 years in Pennsylvania regarding motorcycle helmets. In 2003, the state legislature passed a bill repealing a requirement that motorcycle riders wear helmets. New data published by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review suggests that deaths have gone up since the change.

According to the Tribune-Review, deaths in motorcycle crashes have increased 35 percent since the law was enacted. In 2012, 104 people in Pennsylvania died in motorcycle accidents while not wearing helmets. Citizens questioning the lifting of the ban wonder how many of those people could have avoided death by wearing a helmet.

Some riders and associations consider this an issue of freedom and are adamantly against any helmet requirements. “I believe I have the right to make that decision myself, as to what sort of safety gear I will use,” Len Young, a motorcycle rider who rides without a helmet, told the Tribune-Review.

Region II

Florida clamps down on texting truckers

Federal regulations for interstate truck and bus drivers regarding talking on the phone and texting while driving are enforceable by Florida officers as of July 1. States were given three years to mirror federal regulations, Duane DeBruyne of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration told the Tampa Bay Times.

The main difference in this legislation compared to previous anti-texting initiatives is that using hand-held devices while driving is now a primary offense for interstate truck and bus drivers, which means that drivers can be pulled over specifically for using a hand-held device. Previously it was a secondary offense and could only be tacked on to a stop made for other reasons.

The new law includes fines that are enforced on both the driver and the company that employs the driver. Drivers can pay up to a $2,750 fine—for third and subsequent violations—and lose their commercial license for 120 days, while employers can be fined up to $11,000.

Region III

Ohio considers accepting digital proof of car insurance

A proposed bill in Ohio is set to change the way you think about car insurance, the Columbus Dispatch reports. Following the lead of initiatives from the tech sector, and even other states like California that have implemented similar services, the Ohio legislature wants to put car insurance information on smartphones or other electronic devices.

Instead of needing to worry about putting an insurance card in the glove box every time a new one is issued, this proposed Ohio program will allow individuals to present their insurance information to officers—and others, including courts and the traffic-violations bureau—through an electronic device.

A wide range of devices can be used to store car insurance information, including laptops, tablets, smartphones or any other similar wirelessly communicating electronic device.

Region IV

Marijuana legalization creates a new standard for DUI in Colorado

With its recent legalization of marijuana for recreational use, the state of Colorado has needed to set intoxication standards for driving under the influence of the drug. The trouble is, unlike alcohol, there is no real scientific consensus on how much marijuana in a person’s bloodstream is too much when it comes to driving impaired.

The state legislature has endorsed a standard of five or more nanograms of tetrahydrocannabinol—also known as THC, the active ingredient in marijuana—present per milliliter of blood. Some legislators argued against this standard, saying it is too low because medical marijuana users always have some THC in their systems and because a blood test is too invasive.

However, state troopers are less concerned with the standard. A spokesman for the Colorado State Patrol told the New York Times that he didn’t expect to see any large changes in stop procedure, other than increased drug recognition training for officers.