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Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code: An Analysis of the Effectiveness and Public Awareness of the Penalties for Violations
Authorization: 2003 Senate Resolution 150, 1190

Please Note: If you have questions regarding the Motor Vehicle Code or specific violations, please contact PennDOT Driver & Vehicle Services at:  
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This is the report of findings of the Joint State Government Commission as directed by Senate Resolution 150 of 2003, Printer’s Number 1190.

Senate Resolution 150 of 2003, directed the Joint State Government Commission to collect and analyze relevant data to determine the effectiveness of penalties in Title 75 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes known as the “Vehicle Code” (referred to herein also as 75 Pa.C.S. or Title 75) in reducing violations and improving the level of safety on public roads and highways in the Commonwealth and to determine the level of public awareness of these penalties. Senate Resolution 150 of 2003 also directed the Commission to undertake a comprehensive review of 75 Pa.C.S. to determine its internal consistency and its consistency with the vehicle laws of Pennsylvania’s neighboring states.

As indicated in the Resolution, Commission staff sought the cooperation of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP), the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC) and others it deemed necessary for collecting and supplying data needed for this review and analysis. Commission staff obtained data on Vehicle Code violations from the AOPC, the PSP, PennDOT and the traffic courts of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In addition, over the course of this study, Commission staff met with representatives of PennDOT, the PSP, the Pennsylvania AAA Federation and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) to obtain observations and input on the status of Pennsylvania’s motor vehicle law, including its overall effectiveness and the public’s general level of knowledge in this regard.

Commission staff focused its attention on moving violations, while acknowledging that there is some gray area in what constitutes a “moving” violation. Although the Commonwealth’s Vehicle Code is comprehensive, including laws governing the use and operation of bicycles, snowmobiles and off-road motorized vehicles, as well as laws regarding parking and pedestrians, the staff focused primarily on the laws pertaining to passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles, including tractor-trailers, and vehicles used in agriculture. Each discrete section of the study required a certain narrowing of focus in order to generate meaningful results and findings, and each approach is discussed in its respective chapter of this report.

In sum, Commission staff reviewed data on traffic violations, interviewed representatives of the aforementioned entities, analyzed the Vehicle Code of Pennsylvania and reviewed the motor vehicle laws of New Jersey, New York, Ohio, West Virginia, Delaware and Maryland. In addition, the Commission enlisted the assistance of The Center for Survey Research (CSR), The Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg to conduct a survey to gauge the public’s knowledge of the Commonwealth’s motor vehicle laws and to assess the effectiveness of those laws.