New Pennsylvania Law Enacts Larger Penalties for Distracted Driving
By Zac Pingle, Staff Writer
On Friday, November 4, Pennsylvania Governor Thomas Wolf signed House Bill 2025, also called “Daniel’s Law”, which will enforce stricter penalties for distracted driving. Specifically, Daniel’s Law will increase the penalties for drivers that have a record of vehicular homicide or involuntary manslaughter, and penalize distracted driving similar to punishments for intoxicated driving.
Daniel’s Law was proposed after Daniel Gallatin, a military veteran and firefighter of nearly 40 years, was killed in 2013 after a distracted driver collided with the back of his motorcycle. Pennsylvania Representative Jaret Gibbons, who proposed the legislation, stated “I was honored to stand up for the Gallatin family when they came to me after suffering this horrible tragedy. While we cannot bring Dan Gallatin back, at least his family will know that through this law, his loss will help to save lives.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving has been responsible for 3,328 deaths and 421,000 injuries in 2012. In Pennsylvania alone, more than 2,000 drivers were cited for distracted driving in 2014. Before the new legislation, distracted driving was considered a “summary offense,” in which violators were penalized with a fine of about $50 dollars that would not impose points against the driver’s record.
“It is our hope Daniel’s Law will lead to safer roads by raising awareness of the serious consequences that can happen when you text while driving.” stated Gibbons.
The danger of driving while distracted is more serious than some may realize. For example, if a driver takes seven seconds to respond to a text while driving on a highway at 60 mile per hour, then they will have driven 205 yards without looking at the road. To put this into perspective, the driver will have travelled more than the length of two football fields without paying attention to the road.
“This behavior, which has been allowed to go under-punished for far too long, has been demonstrated to be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Distracted driving has fatal, irreversible, and grave consequences and by signing this Bill I hope to make our roads and highways safer for our citizens, and everyone using them,” stated Governor Wolf.