New highway safety laws designed to protect Pa. motorists

Video posted May 1, 2012 in News by Centre Focus


The first 2012 edition of Centre Focus examines two topics, highway safety and media coverage of the death of legendary football coach Joe Paterno. The first three parts of the broadcast concern issues related to safety on Pennsylvania’s roadways: infrastructure, teen driver safety and the use of mobile devices while driving. The Paterno coverage is in Part Four.

 Part One: Infrastructure

Reporter Carmella Mataloni and producer Allison Williams examine what’s being done to fix thousands of aging and crumbling bridges across the Commonwealth. 

Five years ago a sudden and catastrophic bridge collapse in Minneapolis killed 13 and injured 143 others.  Since that national disaster, Pennsylvania and many other states have made the repair of bridges and highway infrastructure a major priority.  As this initiative gets underway, 31 Pennsylvania counties have poorly-rated highway and railroad bridges over highways, waterways and mountain ravines.

Part Two: Teen driver safety

Reporter Jessica Gold and producers Laura Shaaf and Nick Blake take a look at enforcement of the state’s brand new Act 81 Teen Driving Law.  Also known as Lacy’s Law, it was named after an 18-year old killed in a violent 2007 turnpike crash in which none of the seven teens involved wore seatbelts.  Gold talks to Centre County teens, their parents and police who must enforce the tougher teen licensing law.  The new regulations focus on seat belt use, driving in poor conditions and parental supervision.

Part Three: Texting and driving

A third report also focuses on a brand new driving law.  This one imposes penalties for a potentially deadly practice – texting while driving. Reporter Katie Bassett and producers Liz Derita, Sean Davis and Carolyn Cohen talk with activists concerned about distracted driving, motorists who have been fined for texting while driving, and local police who have special techniques for finding violators – even at red lights.

Part Four: Accuracy and breaking news / covering the death of Coach Paterno

Finally on a different theme, Centre Focus examines local and national media coverage of the death of legendary Penn State  Joe Paterno.

Reporter  Lucy Ukwa and producers Tomorrow Helton-Ingram and Joncier Sloan examine the public impact of reporting incorrect and damaging information for the sake of getting the story first.  Penn State Journalism professor John Dillon and Multimedia professor Curt Chandler shed light on the erroneous Internet reporting  of Joe Paterno’s death.  His passing was reported on the websites of several national media outlets, some 12 hours before the death actually occurred, as confirmed by official sources.