|Posted:||January 27, 2021 11:01 AM|
|From:||Representative Rosemary M. Brown and Rep. Steven R. Malagari|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||ENHANCED DRIVER RESPONSIBILITY (while operating an interactive wireless communication device)|
|Before you read any further, please take 3 minutes to watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FczgGotn3iU
Imagine sitting at home on a beautiful summer morning when suddenly, your doorbell rings. It’s two State Police officers asking about your child. Confused by their presence, they have now told you your child is no longer alive. Through no fault of your child, a distracted driver crossed multiple lanes of traffic and hit his vehicle head-on, instantly killing him. How could this be? Your child did nothing wrong? They were obeying the law, and understood the dangers of distracted driving… yet, they paid the ultimate price. This is not a fictional story, yet, a reality for 9 families every single day, leaving their loved one’s life story unfinished. We need to remember these events when we are creating policies that balance both freedoms and protections. While accidents can happen, these are not accidents, they are crashes that could have been avoided with enhanced, responsible driving behaviors. THE USE OF MOBILE PHONES AND OTHER ELECTRONIC DEVICES WHILE DRIVING HAS EMERGED AS ONE OF THE LEADING CAUSES OF DISTRACTED DRIVING CRASHES, which is why it is the focus of this legislation.
In the near future, we will be re-introducing legislation prohibiting the use of hand-held interactive wireless communications devices (cellular phones and similar items) while operating a motor vehicle on the roadways of the Commonwealth. This legislation aims to remove the device from the driver’s hands and change the behavior of utilizing technology behind the wheel with stricter deterrents. The purpose of this legislation is to not penalize drivers but to protect innocent drivers, similar to our Driving Under the Influence (DUI) laws. It is unacceptable to have this increased irresponsible driving occurring on our Pennsylvania roadways and not have laws in place to help protect public safety.
This legislation passed the House last session and was changed to a secondary offense, without agreement. The Senate did not take up the bill last session.
This legislation offers the following strengths for public safety:
The AAA Traffic Safety Culture Index found that most drivers (87.5 percent ) believe that distracted driving has outpaced all other traffic-related issues as a growing safety concern and virtually all drivers (96.8 percent) view texting or emailing while driving a serious threat. Listen to their collective voice as an individual holding their phone and viewing it, is unable to simultaneously watch the road, too. Not only is the driver of that car in jeopardy, every other motorist is, as well. Do you want your child driving on the same roadway as this motorist who continually thrashes about their lane, drifting from side-to-side while overcorrecting into your lane? That swerving driver may get home fine today, but tomorrow it could be your family in the crosshairs of their vehicle.
Also, PennDOT’s Safety Plan for the future includes supporting legislation to address and enforce distracted driving. The Pennsylvania State Police and law enforcement are also supporting this initiative and believe these parameters are necessary to assist in improving road safety.
The northeastern region of the Unites States including our border states of New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware, Vermont, New Hampshire and West Virginia ALL ban hand-held cell phone use. Representing a district on the border of both New York and New Jersey, I believe it is not only safer but also more consistent for drivers who frequently travel throughout these border states. While it is important to note and educate drivers that distraction is still present with the use of hands-free technology, removing the use of hand-held mobile telephones is a realistic, achievable and a crucial step to help minimize this distraction and enhance driver responsibility. I hope you will join us in co-sponsoring this legislation.
Let’s make a difference in something we all know is a significant road safety concern. Let’s do what we can and get it done! Thank you for your support and we I look forward to working with and crediting each of the cosponsors of this legislation for taking action as a team.
Introduced as HB37