Daniel’s Law, written by PA House Representative Jaret Gibbons, is up for a vote on Tuesday, May 24, 2016. If passed, House Bill 853 will amend Title 75 (Vehicles) and Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses), and enforce enhanced penalties for those convicted of causing injury for death due to distracted driving. Currently, the law only applies to texting while driving and serves no all-cell-phone-use ban, which complicates enforcement, according to Pennsylvania police.
The family of Daniel Gallatin, namesake of this law, hopes that stiffer penalties for distracted driving will save lives and spare other families of the heartache they have suffered due to the carelessness of distracted drivers. The woman who killed Daniel was fined $50 and sentenced to between 9 and 23 ½ months in prison, but released after 60 days in jail.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 3,328 distracted driving deaths and more than 421,000 people injured in automobile accidents involving a distracted driver in 2012. 2014 reports proved consistent with 3,179 distracted driving deaths and at least 431,000 injuries in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Representative Gibbons agrees that distracted driving can be “just as dangerous as drunk driving” and will introduce HB853 on Tuesday, May 24, 2016, hopefully bringing with it penalties similarly related to drunk driving offenses.