WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — If you didn’t think texting and driving was a serious crime — think again. Texting behind the wheel in Pennsylvania can now put you behind bars for several years. This comes after Governor Wolf signed a bill called Daniel’s Law.
“I see it everyday, it’s extremely dangerous,” said a Wilkes-Barre resident.
“It’s very tempting you get that chime on your phone, if it’s not on silent or vibrate, and you want to look at it,” said Christoph Berger, Wilkes-Barre resident.
Texting while driving is one of the most common forms of distracted driving. It’s also one of the most fatal — taking the lives of many — including a southwestern Pennsylvania firefighter. 68-year-old Daniel Gallatin was killed while riding his motorcycle in 2013. The woman who hit him was texting and driving. She served only 60 days in jail — a sentence that prompted Daniel’s family to fight for tougher penalties.
Now, three years later, Governor Tom Wolf signed Daniel’s law into effect on November 4. The measure raises the stakes for Pennsylvania drivers who decide to text behind the wheel. A driver who kills someone while texting could get an additional five-year sentence. And a driver who seriously injures someone while texting could get an additional two years behind bars.
Governor Wolf says texting and driving crashes have been under-punished for too long and stated: “Distracted driving has fatal, irreversible, and grave consequences and by signing this bill, I hope to make our roads and highways safer for our citizens, and everyone using them.”
“I’m glad this is happening because in general people just think it’s another tap on the shoulder, oh you did something bad here’s a violation– now it’s a serious matter,” said Amanda Furey, Wilkes-Barre resident.
Studies show distracted driving last year in Pennsylvania caused almost 15-thousand crashes and 66 deaths.