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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: July 7, 2021 09:12 AM
From: Representative Tim Hennessey
To: All House members
Subject: Point reduction through driver improvement course legislation
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation to require that PennDOT create a driver improvement program designed to target our most dangerous drivers. Experience from other states shows that mandatory driver retraining improves the driving skills of chronic offenders and reduces their rates of recidivism. Better drivers lead to safer roads for all roadway users.

The Vehicle Code currently has an optional driver training provision (an option included in the Recodification by the General Assembly in 1976) but that provision has never been instituted by PennDOT. By making it mandatory here we will require PennDOT to act.

The program would be required as a way to reduce points from a driver’s record when points exceed a total of 6 and when any person is convicted of driving 31 miles per hour or more in excess of the speed limit. Additionally, the course would be required when applying for Occupational Limited License and Probationary License, and would be a condition for driver’s license reinstatement if an operator’s license is suspended due to an accumulation of points, or excessive speeding.

The training course would employ established, effective behavioral psychology principles offered by nationally recognized non-profit organizations.  Program providers would have to offer both classroom and eLearning course options for all drivers required to attend and offer a minimum of four to eight hours of training.

PennDOT found that there were 1,129 motor vehicle related fatalities in 2020 – an increase of 6% from 2019, which saw the second lowest number of fatalities recorded in the state.  This aligns with national data recently released by NHTSA, which found that in 2020 alone, there were 38,680 motor vehicle-related deaths in the U.S., a 6% increase compared to 2019.  Alarmingly, these increases came even as there was a significant reduction in vehicle miles traveled.

Most of these crashes are caused by driver behavior, and we must do more to ensure dangerous driving behavior is adequately addressed. The best approach to improving chronical dangerous driving is through educational interventions that change the decision-making processes of traffic offenders and enable them to make better driving choices.

Data shows nationally, drivers whose licenses are suspended for traffic safety violations tend to be more dangerous than drivers with license suspensions for other reasons. Nearly 19% of drivers with safety-related suspensions are involved in a crash, compared with less than 7% of drivers whose licenses are suspended for other reasons.

Please join me in cosponsoring this legislation to save lives. Thank you.

Introduced as HB1958