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Hosts: Scott LaMar and Mary Wilson

Smart Talk: How well do you know PA vehicle/traffic law?

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Nov 26, 2013 3:17 PM

What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, November 27:

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Are you traveling by car this Thanksgiving weekend?  AAA says more than 43 million Americans have travel plans and about 90% will drive to their destination.

That means there will be a lot of vehicles on the road.  More than a few may be breaking laws such as speeding, not yielding to traffic, texting while driving, or passing in a no passing zone.

Those are amongst the laws most often disobeyed by motorists.  However, there are other laws that drivers simply aren't sure of.  For example, when is it lawful to pass on the right side or when must a vehicle yield to a pedestrian?

That's where Wednesday's Smart Talk comes in.  In what has become a Thanksgiving holiday tradition, Pennsylvania State Trooper and Public Information Officer Adam Reed appears on the program to answer questions about the laws of the land related to motor vehicles and driving.

During a high traffic volume weekend when bad weather is a possibility, we'll also ask about laws concerning driving too fast for conditions or when headlines should be.

Do you have a question for Trooper Reed?

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Trooper Reed pores over the 2,000 page State Police crimes code before joining Scott for Smart Talk

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Comments: 27

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-11-27 09:07

    Jeff emails:

    I drive a scooter and ride a bike. Often I don't trip the signal to change the light. I know what my options are but what are my LEGAL options if the light won't change?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-11-27 09:09

    Tom in Carlisle emails:

    I am in Emergency Medical Services and drive an ambulance. Please remind drivers of their duties when approached by an emergency vehicle from behind and when coming from the opposite direction. And always, always signal your intentions so I know what you are doing.Even though I have a number of privileges when operating in emergency mode, driving in an unsafe manner is not among them. If someone sees an emergency vehicle, even a police car, operated unsafely, get the service name off the vehicle and call their chief.

    We all must drive safely…

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-11-27 09:11

    We have an email about fog lights:

    I do know that fog lights are to be used only during inclimate weather. I liken the use of such lights as someone driving with their high beams on. Which is why during inclimate weather the brightness is dimmed.

    However, it seems that everyone is using them,(clear weather). Isn't there enforcement about this misuse? Given that the majority of users are high profile pickups and SUVs.

    The effect is blinding.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-11-27 09:13

    Mike emails:

    When driving through a posted 15 mph school zone intersection, where does the 15 mph limit end? At the other side of the intersection? Or at the other side of the posted sign for oncoming traffic?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-11-27 09:14

    An email about aggressive drivers:

    Why does this time of the year have to differ from any other day when it comes to enforcement of speeding, tail-gating, illegal turns, aggressive driving, not using signals.

    One only has to try to do the speed limit to experience this behavior.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-11-27 09:21

    Justin has a question about cell phones while driving:

    Great show!

    Are you allowed to wear/use hands free headsets that fit into both ears while diving? Example being the headset that comes with the iPhone.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-11-27 09:28

    A follow-up to the earlier “fog lights” email:

    If high beams are not dimmed to oncoming traffic, is that illegal?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-11-27 09:30

    Phil from York emails two quick questions:

    1. While traveling Interstate highways, many people tailgate at high speeds and no doubt are responsible for many crashes. Is there a tailgating law and why does it never seem to be enforced?

    2. Crashes -- the correct word to use. Saying this suggests that "accident" is a euphemism for crashes, essentially excusing vehicular negligence. Trooper's thoughts?

    • PSP Tpr Reed img 2013-11-27 10:52

      Thanks, Phil. Tailgating is certainly the cause of many crashes. One of the reasons it seems lightly enforced is that whenever someone sees a police car, they back off from the car in front of them and slow down. I have personally issued citations for following too closely/tailgating, though, and we do keep an eye out for it.

      And yes, crashes are the term that we use. Like you said, many are preventable.

  • Jcarb38 img 2013-11-27 09:32

    John in Gettysburg

    Back to the school zone. Today the schools are closed but the school zone signs are flashing. Must I still go 15?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-11-27 09:40

    Phil from York emails two quick questions:

    1. While traveling Interstate highways, many people tailgate at high speeds and no doubt are responsible for many crashes. Is there a tailgating law and why does it never seem to be enforced?

    2. Crashes -- the correct word to use. Saying this suggests that "accident" is a euphemism for crashes, essentially excusing vehicular negligence. Trooper's thoughts?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-11-27 09:42

    Patti posts this question on our Facebook page:

    I drive from Chambersburg to Carlisle several times a week. The speed limit changes just south of Exit 44 from 65 mph to 55 mph. None of the trucks slow down, and there is never any enforcement of that change. I am routinely tailgated by trucks. I'd like to see that speed zone better enforced. Why isn't it?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-11-27 09:42

    This question comes in via email:

    I drive Rt. 30 between Lancaster & York. This highway is a complete free-for-all, speeders, weavers, tailgaters, failure to merge, etc…

    Yet, I rarely see anyone pulled over.

    Also, please explain the Yield sign to drivers - it does NOT mean merge.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-11-27 09:46

    I drive Rt. 30 between Lancaster & York. This highway is a complete free-for-all, speeders, weavers, tailgaters, failure to merge, etc…

    Yet, I rarely see anyone pulled over.

    Also, please explain the Yield sign to drivers - it does NOT mean merge.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-11-27 09:47

    Mal emails this question:

    The Rheems / Elizabethtown exit on 283 East has saw tooth markings (points of teeth face oncoming vehicle) in the right turn lane at bottom of exit ramp.

    Is this a conditional 'go' if the stop light is red and there is no conflicting traffic?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-11-27 09:51

    Gail has two questions via email:

    What is the distance of a prohibition against passing, after you pass a "do not pass" sign?

    Isn't there a statute which provides that a traffic light which does not change be treated as a stop sign?

    • PSP Tpr Reed img 2013-11-27 10:57

      What is the distance of a prohibition against passing, after you pass a "do not pass" sign? **Usually it is posted due to an area with a blink curve or low visibility. Look for a sign indicating the end of the no passing zone or reconsider doing so when the road and/or line of sight opens again.

      Isn't there a statute which provides that a traffic light which does not change be treated as a stop sign? **The statute in place is when a light is blinking red. It should be treated as a stop sign then.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-11-27 09:51

    Here’s lucky email #13 from this morning’s show:

    When traveling the PA Turnpike, if you approach an area where there are signs alerting you of a construction zone ahead, and you are instructed to slow down to -- say 55mph -- but when you get to the "construction area" all the signs are covered with black cloth, there is no construction activity -- and the light signaling "active construction zone when flashing" is NOT flashing -- ARE YOU STILL REQUIRED TO SLOW DOWN?

    It seems like I do slow down, but nobody else does....possibly making ME somewhat of a traffic hazard. Please clarify the law about this situation.

    Thanks!

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-11-27 09:52

    David from Susquehanna Twp. weighs in on the “right turn signal” issue that was discussed at the top of the show:

    Your caller(s) who said that we should not turn right where there is a specific light for that purpose, does not owe anyone an apology. The state owes all drivers an apology for making such a ridiculous law. If one comes to an intersection with a light and a sign stating Right Turn Signal, and the signal is red, it's common sense to believe that as long as that light is red, we should not be able to turn right. Otherwise, what actually is the purpose of that light stating Right Turn Signal?

    I've lived in PA for 19 years. I lived in 7 other states prior to that. This is the only state where I have encountered a traffic law such as this, which is totally contrary to common sense. It was only 2 years or so ago that I realized that this was actually a law, which explains why drivers behind me were honking at me to go on a red light. Are out-of-staters expected to know about this non-sensical law when just passing through Pennsylvania? It took me 17 years to learn of this, but I'm still trying to discern the reasoning behind it. Bad laws only create disrespect for those who made them by law-abiding citizens.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-11-27 09:55

    John in Gettysburg has a follow-up to the earlier “school zone” question:
    Back to the school zone. Today the schools are closed but the school zone signs are flashing. Must I still go 15?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-11-27 09:57

    Allen from Shippensburg has a question for the trooper:

    Could you please ask your guest if it is legal to turn left on red at a stoplight when turning onto an on ramp for a divided highway (ex. Turning onto I-81 South on ramp at Mechanicsburg)?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-11-27 09:57

    Raj from Camp Hill has a question about speed limit enforcement:

    The general perception of the people Speeding limit is limit + up to 10, Is this correct ?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-11-27 09:58

    Caroline emails a follow-up to the earlier conversation on emergency vehicles:

    When stopped at a four-way intersection and an emergency vehicle with lights & sirens is coming up behind me, can I go straight through the red light if safe to do so. If not what are my options?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-11-27 09:59

    It’s hard driving the speed limit at the 81/83 split, as Art emails:

    Proceeding north on I-83, maintaining the 55-mph speed limit, to the I-81 split, which of the three lanes should you be in if you want to take I-81 South (heading West initially).

    Whether I'm in the middle or left lane cars line up behind me, exceeding the speed limit. The same situation exists in Allentown, where I-78 and I-22 meet.

  • Scott LaMar img 2013-11-27 10:16

    Thank you for all your calls and emails. Please check the website from time-to-time over the next few days while the PA State Police answers your questions. Have a happy Thanksgiving and as today's program demonstrated, we need to be careful, cautious, and courteous on the roads.

  • PSP Tpr Reed img 2013-11-27 10:46

    Thank you to everyone for the great questions. I'll do my best to answer what I can in the comments. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

  • PA img 2014-04-30 11:46

    Two vehicles are passing in opposite directions on a two-way street with no center line and cars parked only on the right side. Does either vehicle have to yield the right of way? I’ve looked at Section 3302, does not seem to address.

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