Bill Planned to Curb Distracted Driving

SMITHFIELD TOWNSHIP -- There's a new proposal to curb distracted driving in Pennsylvania.

The bill sponsored by a state representative from Monroe County also aims to stop drivers under the age of 18 from using their phones while behind the wheel.

The numbers are staggering: there were more than 14,000 traffic crashes where a driver was not focused on the road in 2015, according to the Pennsylvania Crash Facts and Statistics report from PennDOT.

Of that number, 61 ended up fatal.

Stroudsburg native Shane Miller describes the reality for drivers across Pennsylvania dealing with distracted drivers.

A new bill hopes to stop people from using hand-held cell phones in the state.

Miller says there are other options than holding a phone right next to your ear.

"Before I had my Civic which has the wireless features, I was given a Bluetooth speaker to help with that," Miller said.

The hands-free bill was introduced by State Representative Rosemary Brown.

Besides emergencies, drivers would need to use hands-free accessories like Bluetooth.

Under the bill, drivers under the age of 18 would not be allowed to use their cell phone at all and that includes hands-free options.

First-time offenders receive a stiff penalty. Drivers will get 3 points on their license and a $50 fine.

"Even hands-free technology, you can be distracted, so I believe at least getting rid of the handheld takes that distraction down," said Rep. Rosemary Brown, 189th District.

Shane Gilliland tells Newswatch 16 says he was rear-ended a couple years ago by a distracted driver. As a parent, he worries about the safety of children who could've been in the backseat.

"It's annoying, to say the least. It's troubling. You can't help but want to do something about it but what can you really do. So hearing about this legislation makes a lot of sense."

The bill has to go through the Transportation Committee before it can be considered for a vote in the State House.

30 comments

  • rk

    distracted drivers should be charged just like impaired drivers, they kill more people drunks but its only drunks going to jail

  • None

    It won’t work because it won’t be enforced unless there’s already been an accident caused by it. How are police going to determine a driver is under 18 at a glance? How would they determine they’re using a hands free device and not simply adjusting the heater or radio? Are they going to pull over every person that looks young and is adjusting their heater? This legislation seems very poorly thought out. If they want to reduce distracted driving accidents via legislation the only feasible way is to raise the penalties for causing an accident while distracted and use traffic camera footage and witness testimony to prove they were distracted by a phone.

    • Get Real

      This law is carefully crafted by the legislators to do just enough to get the voters pushing for something to be done about cellphone use off their backs but not enough to alienate the voters who want to be free to use their phones while driving. If they were serious they could enact legislation consisting of this one line: Anyone using a cellphone at the time of an accident will lose insurance coverage for that accident.

  • B

    Using hands free is the same as changing the radio or adjusting the air conditioning, even easier in the case where it’s voice activated. Making it against the law is a little ridiculous.

    • Anonymous

      If you’re under 18, that is. If you’re over 18, handsfree/bluetooth is not against the law, per the article.

  • Givemeabreak

    I don’t know what everyone’s problem is? I have been driving for 24 years and when I first started driving cell phones just started becoming more common. I have driven all over the country for work. First we used to use maps and then we got tablets before tablets we’re even mainstream. We had a mapping program on the tablet and I would look down at the computer on the map to see where I was going. Did this for years. This was before the GPS was on the windshield. I have texted, talked on the phone and worked the computer all without ever even having the smallest scare. I always knew that all it takes is a second and things can go wrong very quickly. I only would look away when I knew it was safe. Some people I guess are just bad at doing it and it is dangerous but it can be done without anyone ever getting hurt but it’s not for everyone. Of course some people shouldn’t even be on the road much less texting and using a computer at the same time.

      • Givemeabreak

        Never had an accident. Maybe I am just more coordinated than you. Sorry if you can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. Also drove multiple cars with no brakes with no accident but then again everyone can’t be me.

  • Rich

    Seriously? This isn’t a law already???? In my 18 years on the road I’ve had more close calls with people playing with their cell phones than I’ve had with drunk drivers. Just the other day I was exiting my carpool partner’s property. I was on the shoulder of the road waiting to merge with traffic. I see this white Kia heading north, this white Kia started swirving off to the of the road, I quickly put my truck in reverse and she narrowly missed me. Sure enough this 20-something-year-old girl puts her cellphone down in front of me and rights herself on the road. Pennsylvania, it’s about time

    • B

      This law doesn’t protect you from “20 something-year-olds,” it’s only for drivers under 18. Read the article.

  • think positive

    So in other words, all the people who are on here posting complaints all the time about “distracted drivers”, and teens using social media while driving, are now COMPLAINING…AGAIN…about them NOT being able to use phones while driving. Can’t have it both ways.
    I like the new law. It makes good sense.

    • jim

      So, the safer solution is to pull over to the side of the interstate. with traffic whizzing by at 70mph, than attempt to rejoin said traffic from a dead stop ? sounds real safe to me … Ask some tow truck drivers what its like to be on the side of the highway. Why not let adults be adults and stop passing pointless, near unenforceable laws? Going to need seatbelts on toilets soon so nobody falls and gets a boo-boo.

      • Seriously?...

        Are you really crying about this? The law is a good idea and several states around us do not let you use hand held devices while driving. And are you really that stupid that you would pull over on the shoulder to answer a phone call and not at the next exit? Shoulders are for emergencies not to answer a phone call.. then again if your stupid enough to stop maybe you deserve to get hit.

      • Anonymous

        Yes. If the shoulder is too scary, get off at an exit, or just buy a $20 bluetooth headset for use while driving.

  • jim

    What about the people who’s job is to be on the road 8 or 9 hours a day. Making and receiving phone calls to find out where to go, and what to do next? And what about police officers who have the phone glued to there ear constantly ?
    Are they somehow superhuman? Or do they get special “training” to obtain superhuman status? Where can the average person get such superhuman training? Oh, right , I forgot cops just do whatever they want anyway so what does it matter… just another money grab…

      • jim

        So i guess you are a cop of some sort then? will you also “put the phone away and drive” or just put the phone down long enough to give someone a ticket for doing the same thing? .

    • Robert

      I think your a little bit of a slow learner here. On the road 8-9 hours a day, finding out what to do next. Well after you compete your first task, make a phone call prior to departure in order to find out your next task. Am I missing something here? Receiving phone calls? Why you already know what your doing next. I see UPS drivers all over the place driving without using phones so what is your profession that requires this phone use while operating a vehicle? Jim I have to say your one of those people all over the road because you don’t know how to manage your time or schedule. I say 3 points for you, and get Jim off the road! He’s not only stupid but dangerous.

  • les

    Some of us mere mortals can and do respect the rules of the road. I use hands-free, but can and have driven safely for 10s of thousands of miles over the years while using a hand held safely. Perhaps Ms. Brown should concentrate on the dysfunction in Harrisburg instead.

  • laura

    this needs to be for all people not just teens. sorry but teens are usually much better at using those devices because they grew up with them, it’s second nature. the real problem are those of us who haven’t. every time i’ve almost had someone hit me on the highway it’s been non teens and they were on phones

    • Anonymous

      Nah, confirmation bias pretty heavily at work here. Realistically anyone age 25 and below at this point has grown up with cell phone use – if anything, modern cell phones are more dangerous to use since they REQUIRE you to look to know what you’re doing (being touch-screen only). When I still had a flip phone, I could text from my pocket without looking at the screen.

    • destruxxx

      $50 plus the usual $200+ in “fees and costs” tacked on in addition to the base fine. So $250+ total ticket cost, depending on where you get pulled over.

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