Pennsylvania Bans Hand-Held Devices While Driving: Invoking Paul Miller’s Legacy

Governor Shapiro signs SB 37, Paul Miller's Law, Into LawCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

HARRISBURG, PA — In an effort to enhance the safety of Pennsylvania roads, Governor Josh Shapiro signed a new bill into law on Wednesday. Senate Bill 37, known fondly as Paul Miller’s Law, prohibits the operation of hand-held devices while driving.

Pennsylvania, by implementing this bipartisan law, becomes the 29th state to make a stand against distracted driving. It is named after Paul Miller Jr., a victim of distracted driving in 2010. This tragic event sparked his mother, Eileen Miller, to become a staunch advocate for stricter regulations against distracted driving.

The new legislation revamps several sections within the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, such as licensing of drivers, rules of the road, and serious traffic offenses. It allows law enforcement to issue a ticket if a driver uses a cell phone while driving, except in emergencies or with hands-free technology.

This law comes in the wake of the sobering statistic that distracted driving was the leading cause of car crashes in Pennsylvania in 2023. “In 2023, there were over 11 thousand crashes in Pennsylvania that involved a distracted driver,” said PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll.

Meanwhile, Paul Miller’s Law also aims to eliminate biases in policing by mandating the collection and public disclosure of data on drivers pulled over during traffic stops, including race, ethnicity, and gender.

“Limiting distractions while behind the wheel makes Pennsylvania’s roadways safer for everyone,” stated Colonel Christopher Paris, Commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police.

Governor Shapiro expressed heartfelt sympathy for the victims of distracted driving during the bill signing, saying, “I have met too many people with injuries they’ll live with for the rest of their lives because they were hit by a distracted driver.”

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At the signing, Senator Rosemary Brown, the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 37, rejoiced at this victory for Pennsylvania. She praised the bill as more than legislation, pointing out that it exemplifies the power of perseverance and the effect of prioritizing public safety.

Eileen Miller, the grieving mother behind the inspiration for this law, commented, “When I found out what had caused that crash, I swore to my son that I would fight for change. Today is Paul Miller’s law. I’ve gotten it done, Paul, I did it.”

The signing of this bill marks Governor Shapiro’s 18th legislative achievement so far in 2024. Considering the rising trend of traffic deaths due to distracted driving—a 2.25% increase compared to 2022—this law serves as a critical step towards preventing such tragedies on Pennsylvania roads.

By sanctioning Senate Bill 37, the authorities in Pennsylvania have taken a vital step forward in the fight against distracted driving. The law not only promises to enhance traffic safety but also seeks to promote transparency and accountability at traffic stops.

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