Pennsylvania Enacts Sen. Brown’s Historic Hands-Free Driving Law to Combat Distracted Driving, Save Lives

HARRISBURG – Legislation limiting the use of handheld cellular and other devices while driving has officially been signed into law today by Gov. Josh Shapiro. Senate Bill 37, championed by Sen. Rosemary Brown (R-40) for more than a decade, marks a historic step in enhancing road safety across Pennsylvania.

“After more than a decade of dedicated work to enact this legislation, the passage of Senate Bill 37 marks a monumental victory for Pennsylvania,” said Brown. “As this bill is signed into law, I am filled with gratitude for those who helped me along this process, 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.”

Named the Paul Miller, Jr. Law, Senate Bill 37 – now Act 18 of 2024 – limits the use of handheld cellphones or other communication devices while operating a motor vehicle on Pennsylvania highways. Drivers can still use their phones if utilizing hands-free technology such as a docking station, Bluetooth or speaker technology.

“This achievement would not have been possible without the unwavering advocacy of Paul and Eileen Miller, who have been with me every step of the way,” said Brown. “Their son, Paul Miller Jr., lost his life to a distracted driver on Route 33 in Monroe County, and their tireless efforts have ensured that his legacy will protect countless others.”

“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 Gov. 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.”

“In 2023, there were more than 11,000 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.”

Eileen Miller of Scranton shared her thoughts on the bill’s passage. “My son Paul touched the hearts of everyone he met,” said Miller. “This legislation, Paul Miller’s Law, will similarly touch countless lives and ensure his legacy continues. Because of Paul Miller’s Law, fewer families will suffer the same pain our family has faced.”

“Today, Pennsylvania joins 26 states, including all of our border states, in recognizing the dangers that come with distracted driving by passing legislation that would include not only deterrents, but an opportunity to get educated about the dangers of distracted driving in Pennsylvania,” said state Rep. Ed Neilson (D-174), who serves as the majority chairman of the House Transportation Committee.“

In 2022, distracted driving fatalities in Pennsylvania surged to a decade high claiming 80 lives. The AAA Traffic Safety Culture Index revealed that 88% of drivers believe distracted driving has outpaced all other traffic-related issues as a growing safety concern, with 97% considering texting or emailing while driving to be a grave threat. Pennsylvania now joins 26 other states with hands-free laws, including all its border states, which have reported declines in distracted driving incidents following the implementation of such laws.

“This was a long battle to put the safety of Pennsylvanians first, but it is a battle worth winning,” said Brown. “With Gov. Shapiro’s signature, we have crossed the finish line. I look forward to seeing the positive impact this law will have on our communities.”

The Paul Miller, Jr. Law is in effect as of June 5, 2024, marking a new era of safer driving practices across Pennsylvania.

Video of the bill signing can be viewed here.

CONTACT: Mackenzie Mueller

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