Traffic Law FAQ

Is seatbelt use required in Pennsylvania?
Yes. The Vehicle Code mandates seat belt use for anyone between the ages of 8 and 18 – this is a primary offense. In addition, persons aged 18 years and older seated in the a front seat are required to wear seat belts and can be convicted of a summary offense if also convicted of another offense at the same time. (Title 75 Section 4581)

Is it against the law to leave my child in the car alone , even for a few seconds?

Yes,  The Vehicle Code says that a child under 6 years shall not be left unattended in a vehicle while the vehicle is out of the operator’s sight and in unsafe circumstances. Also, a bit of common sense would say it is not a good idea. We see this mostly at convenience stores, where a parent just runs in for a few quick items.  While it may seem like your child is within view, please remember that it only takes a criminal a few seconds to jump in your car and leave, possibly with your child still in the car.  Take the extra time and take your children with you. (Title 75 Section 3701.1)

When am I required to use headlights?

Drivers are required to use their headlights between sunset and sunrise and anytime an operator cannot discern a person or vehicle upon a highway from a distance of 1000 feet due to insufficient light or unfavorable atmospheric conditions (i.e. rain, snow, fog, sleet, smoke, etc.).

Drivers are also required to use their headlamps anytime the vehicle’s windshield wipers are in continuous or intermittent use due to precipitation or atmospheric moisture, including rain, snow, sleet or mist.  their windshield wipers are in operation. (Title 75 Section 4302)

How far behind the vehicle in front of me should I be when driving?
The Pennsylvania Driver’s Manual recommends the “Four-Second-Rule” as a helpful guide. To follow the “Four-Second-Rule” watch the rear bumper of the vehicle ahead. When the bumper passes a shadow or road marking, start counting the seconds you take to reach the same spot on the road. If you pass the same spot in less than four seconds, you are following too closely. (Title 75 Section 3310)

If I am involved in an auto accident, when must I report it to the police?
If the accident involves death or injury to any person or damage to any vehicle to the extent that it requires towing. If any of these circumstances are present, the driver must immediately notify the police. (Title 75 Section 3746)

Can I ride a motorized scooter, quad, motorized bike, or go-cart on the streets or anywhere else?

If it is motorized, the operator needs to have a license, registration and insurance for the vehicle, the vehicle also must have the proper equipment to be driven on the roads, such as turn signals, lights, brake lights, a valid registration tag… etc…  The mini bikes, go carts, quads and scooters are not legal to ride at this time in Pennsylvania, unless you are on private property and have permission to ride there.  If you do ride at an approved location, always wear helmets and the proper safety equipment. Violation of this or any other part of this section can result in traffic tickets, just as if you were operating a car or truck.  The vehicle may also be towed.

Can passengers ride in the bed of my pickup truck?
Persons 18 years of age and older may ride in the bed if the vehicle is driven at a speed of no more than 35 miles per hour. No child less than 18 years of age may ride in the bed at any speed. Certain exemptions exist for farm operations, hunting and parades. (Title 75 Section 3719)

Where can I find answers regarding my PA drivers license or vehicle registration?

Visit the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation website:

What is the law on kids in car seats?

Pa’s law is relatively simple.  For children UNDER four years old, they must be in a “child passenger restraint system”.  This is a seat with it’s own seatbelt system, usually a 5-point harness.  Children four years or older but UNDER eight must be in an approved booster seat used in conjunction with the vehicle’s seatbelt.  All persons under 18 must wear a seatbelt anywhere they are seated in the vehicle.  All of these provisions are the responsibility of the driver, not necessarily the parent. (Title 75 Section 4581)