Brown’s Legislation to Curb Distracted Driving in Pennsylvania Headed to the Governor

Sen. Rosemary Brown speaking at her distracted driving press conference, where she unveiled Senate Bill 37.

“This was a long battle to put the safety of Pennsylvanians first, but it is a battle worth winning.”

 HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania State Legislature approved legislation to prohibit the use of handheld cellular and other devices while driving, an initiative long championed by Sen. Rosemary Brown (R-40).

“After more than a decade of relentless work to enact this legislation, the passage of Senate Bill 37 marks a monumental victory for Pennsylvania,” said Brown. “As this bill heads to the governor’s desk, I am filled with gratitude for those who helped us get this far, and I know this measure will protect drivers, prevent crashes and save lives. This bill is more than legislation – it is a reminder of the power of perseverance and the impact we can have when we prioritize public safety.” 

Senate Bill 37, also named by Brown as the Paul Miller Jr. Law, limits the use of handheld cellphones or other communication devices while operating a motor vehicle on a Pennsylvania highway or traffic way. Drivers can still use their phone if they are utilizing hands-free technology, such as a docking station, Bluetooth or speaker technology.

“Getting this bill to the finish line would not have been possible without the advocacy of Paul and Eileen Miller, the parents of Paul Miller, Jr. Their son lost his life at 21 years old to a distracted driver on Route 33 in Monroe County. They have been with me every step of the way,” Brown said. “I also want to thank the majority of my colleagues in both the Senate and the House for their votes and working to protect Pennsylvania roadways.”

Eileen Miller of Scranton shared her thoughts on the bill’s passage. “As someone who has endured profound grief caused by distracted driving, the passage of this legislation means fewer families will have to suffer the same heartbreak,” said Miller. “I find solace knowing Paul’s legacy will be a beacon of protection for every driver and passenger on Pennsylvania’s roads.”

State Rep. Ed Neilson (D-174), who serves as the majority chairman of the House Transportation Committee added “We have data that shows distracted driving now causes more harm to people on the road than driving under the influence,” Neilson said. “I’m always happy to reach across the aisle to implement important legislation that will save thousands of lives each year in the commonwealth.”

Distracted driving fatalities in Pennsylvania surged to a decade high in 2022, claiming 80 lives. The AAA Traffic Safety Culture Index found that 88% of drivers believe distracted driving has outpaced all other traffic-related issues as a growing safety concern. The study also revealed that 97% of drivers consider texting or emailing while driving to be a grave threat. 34 states have enacted hands-free laws, including all of Pennsylvania’s border states. These states report a decline in distracted driving after the implementation of a hands-free law.

“This was a long battle to put the safety of Pennsylvanians first, but it is a battle worth winning,” said Brown. “I look forward to the governor signing this bill into law so we can cross the finish line.”

The bill is now headed to the governor’s desk for signature.


Christine Zubeck

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