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Governor Shapiro Signs “Paul Miller’s Law,” Banning Use Of Hand-Held Devices While Driving & Increasing Transparency And Accountability At Traffic Stops

Highway Safety News, PennDOT News | June 6th, 2024

Governor Josh Shapiro signed Senate Bill 37 – known as Paul Miller’s Law – into law on June 5, prohibiting the use of hand-held devices while driving. This bipartisan legislation makes Pennsylvania the 29th state in the nation to ban distracted driving.

Paul Miller’s Law allows law enforcement to issue a ticket when a driver uses a cell phone while driving. Drivers can still use their phones to alert emergency responders and to make phone calls, use a GPS, and listen to music, if they are using hands-free technology.

“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 – and too many families that have an empty seat at the dinner table because of distracted driving,” said Governor Josh Shapiro. “This commonsense, bipartisan legislation – passed and signed into law in honor of Paul Miller’s legacy – empowers our state and local police to stop distracted driving and make our roads and communities safer. This law also increases transparency and ensures accountability at traffic stops while providing crucial public safety data to keep our roads safe. This is an example of what we can accomplish when we work together — Senators and Representatives from both parties came together to pass commonsense legislation that will save lives across Pennsylvania.”

Paul Miller Jr. was tragically killed in a motor vehicle accident with a tractor-trailer in 2010 in Monroe County as the result of a distracted driver who reached for their phone while driving. Since Paul’s death, Eileen Miller has become a national advocate for stronger laws to curb distracted driving.

Paul Miller’s Law will also work to prevent bias in policing by requiring law enforcement to collect data on drivers pulled over during traffic stops, including race, ethnicity, and gender. The data will be made publicly available in an annual report. This amendment – which the Governor advocated for in conjunction with the Legislative Black Caucus – builds on the Shapiro Administration’s work to ensure Pennsylvanians can have the utmost faith in the law enforcement officers serving and protecting them every day.

In 2023, distracted driving was the leading cause of car crashes in Pennsylvania with traffic deaths rising by 2.25% compared to 2022, according to PennDOT’s annual crash information report. The report showed 1,209 deaths in motor vehicle crashes, up from 1,179 in the prior year. There were more than 11,262 distracted driving crashes in 2023, compared to 8,330 alcohol-related crashes.

“In 2023, there were over 11 thousand crashes in Pennsylvania that involved a distracted driver,” said PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll. “Driving requires 100% of your attention 100% of the time, and this bill – which I was proud to support as Minority Chair of the House Transportation Committee – is an important step forward in discouraging distracted driving and keeping everyone safe on the road. Congratulations to Senator Brown for her tireless efforts in support of this bill, and thanks to Eileen Miller for her years-long advocacy for this cause.”