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Young Drivers To Soon Face New Restrictions Behind Wheel

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- There are some big changes on the way for young drivers.

Beginning on Tuesday, Dec. 27, the new laws - known as Act 81 - go into effect.

"This will make a big difference in improving the safety of our roadways," said PennDOT spokesperson Jim Struzzi.

The new law has three parts.

First, the days of teenagers carpooling will be over. Junior drivers will only be allowed to transport one passenger, under the age of 18 who is not an immediate family member, for the first six months.

After six months, they may drive with up to three passengers under 18 but only if they haven't had a reportable crash.

Then, at age 18, the passenger limits are off.

"One of the major factors that causes teen drivers to have crashes essentially is distracted driving - either adjusting the radio, talking to someone else in the vehicle, not paying attention to the outside world around them," Struzzi said.

Another part of the new law is that young drivers will now have to spend more time behind the wheel. They now need 65 hours of training instead of 50, and 10 of those hours have to be at night. Another five have to be in bad weather.

"It does make sense to have the young drivers undergo this training while they are being supervised," Struzzi added.

The last part of the new law, junior drivers and passengers under the age of 18 must wear a seat belt. Not strapping in will be considered a primary offense, meaning a driver can be pulled over and cited without breaking any other rule.

"We don't want to see anyone hurt or killed on our roadways and these new laws will help that," Struzzi said.

Similar laws are already in place in several other states.

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