Common Traffic Laws

When am I required to use headlights?

Effective January 29, 2007, drivers are now required to use their headlights anytime their windshield wipers are in operation. Specifically, Section 4302(a)(3) of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code states that headlights are required: "Any time when the vehicle's windshield wipers are in continuous or intermittent use due to precipitation or atmospheric moisture, including rain, snow, sleet or mist." In addition to the above change, headlights are required 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.). You should also be aware that daytime running lamps are not considered headlights. If your headlights are on, then the other vehicle lighting will be on too (i.e. taillights and other marker lights as required).


When I enter a limited-access highway from an on-ramp, is traffic required to yield and allow me to enter?

No. On limited-access highways, the traffic on the limited-access highway shall have the right-of-way.


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.


When do I need to use a child safety seat?

State law requires that children under the age of four (4) must be buckled into a federally-approved safety seat no matter where they ride in a motor vehicle - front or back seat. Additionally, any person that transports a child four (4) years of age or older, but under eight (8) years of age, anywhere in the motor vehicle shall secure the child with the seat belt and in an appropriately fitting child booster seat.


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.


What do I do upon the approach of an Emergency Vehicle?

When you are driving on the roadways and are approached by any Emergency Vehicle with lighting and siren activated the law requires motorists driving in both directions to immediately pull to the right side of the road and stop. Emergency Vehicles include Police Cars, Ambulances, Paramedics and Fire Department Vehicles.