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Distracted driving Bill is reintroduced

In 2019, Rep. Rosemary Brown, R-Monroe/Pike, and Eileen Miller spoke at a press conference in the East Wing Rotunda at the Pennsylvania Capitol Complex to help spread awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and explain the purpose of Brown’s enhanced driver responsibility legislation.

State Reps. Rosemary Brown and Steven Malagari are trying again to prohibit the use of cell phones while driving.

The state House of Representatives passed legislation last year, but a companion bill was not taken up in the state Senate. Brown, R-Monroe/Pike, has been working with Eileen Miller on the legislation for several years. In 2010, Miller lost her son, 21-year-old Paul Miller Jr., to a devastating car crash caused by a distracted tractor trailer driver on State Route 33.

The reintroduced bill has been referred to the House Transportation Committee.

“Every day, I witness many drivers using their cellphones irresponsibly while driving- willingly putting themselves and those around them in danger on our roadways,” said Brown.

“Cell phones are now becoming the largest distraction in the car and too many innocent lives, both in Pennsylvania and nationwide, have been altered or tragically lost due to this distracted driving. I want to thank Rep. Malagari for his bipartisan support of this legislation and working with me to get this legislation to the governor’s desk this session. “

Brown and Malagari, D-Montgomery, propose making driving a vehicle while holding or supporting any electronic device, regardless of a driver’s age, a primary offense subject to a $100 fine and no points on a driver’s license. The fine for texting while driving would also double from $50 to $100. Cell use would be allowed only when a vehicle is stopped on the side of the road. GPS could be used but must be hands-free or supported with the body.

A parent or guardian would be required to certify their child has viewed educational materials about distracted driving before the child receives a driver’s license. If passed, drivers would receive a warning for the first six months if they are pulled over by police for using a cell phone while driving. Lastly, Brown and Malagari have written a clause that clarifies drivers can’t be cited for both texting while driving and driving while supporting or holding a cell phone.

The northeastern region of the Unites States including New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware, Vermont, New Hampshire and West Virginia, which share borders with Pennsylvania, ban hand-held cell phone use while driving. Brown and Malagari also point to a AAA Traffic Safety Culture Index that found 87.5% of drivers believe distracted driving has outpaced all other traffic-related issues as a growing safety concern and 6.8% of drivers view texting or emailing while driving a serious threat.

“Almost every one of Pennsylvania’s neighboring states enacted driver responsibility laws to not allow mobile device use while driving. It’s time that Pennsylvania catches up to make our roadways safer,” said Malagari. “Strengthening our penalties on distracted driving is not a partisan issue, and it would show that our Commonwealth will not tolerate such reckless behavior. Our legislation is a commonsense measure that ensures responsible drivers aren’t impacted and it has the potential to prevent countless tragedies.”

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