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New Year brings new driving safety laws

Consumer Reports News: December 30, 2011 02:08 PM

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Drivers in various states around the country will need to be aware of some new driving laws that affect seat belts and cell phone use that go into effect on January 1st.

California has a new child restraint law aimed at further protecting children. All children age 7 and under who are less than 4 feet, 9 inches tall are required to be in a booster seat placed in the rear seat. This law replaces the previous one in which booster seats were only required for children under 6 years of age and 60 pounds.

Also, on January 1st, Illinois will strengthen their seat belt law by requiring the use of seat belts for all passengers in front and rear seats. This new law replaces the previous legislation that only required the driver, front seat passenger, and passengers under the age of 19 to wear a seat belt.

Besides seat belts, there are some stronger distracted driving laws going into effect as well.
Nevada has implemented a new law that will ban hand-held cell phone use and texting while driving in the state and this also includes using a hand-held phone while stopped at a light or in traffic. Drivers are allowed to use a hands-free device such as a Bluetooth. In addition, this offense is now primary, which means police can ticket drivers for those offenses alone.

North Dakota will ban cell phone use for young drivers under age 18 and has increased their graduated licensing requirements. Driver’s under 16 must hold a learner’s permit for a year until they can get a full license and have at least 50 hours of supervised driving time.

Further in 2012, Pennsylvania’s texting law will go into effect on March 8th and it will be a primary offense.

For more on distracted driving and teen safety, see our special section.

Liza Barth

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