Are Distracted Driving Laws Tough Enough?

by: Guest Writer

Daniel Gallatin lost his life in New Castle, Pennsylvania in May 2013 when a 43 year old woman slammed her SUV into the back of his motorcycle and dragged him for 100 feet. A police investigation determined that the driver of the SUV was texting while driving and failed to see Daniel in front of her.

Charges were filed against the woman and she was convicted of vehicular homicide, which is a third degree felony in Pennsylvania. Sentenced to 2 years in prison, she served only 2 months. And paid two fines totaling $250.

The Consequence: Two months and $250 for a life.

Action From Tragedy

Daniel was a husband, father and grandfather. At 68 years young, Daniel was looking forward to walking his daughter Michelle down the aisle at her upcoming wedding. He was eager to spend more time with his sons Barry and Brian, their wives and his three grandchildren. The love of his life, his wife Mary Lou, would be left alone in her retirement – all of the plans they had made gone forever.

Outraged, Gallatin’s family sprang into action, working with state lawmakers to draft a bill to increase the penalties for distracted driving. In November 2016 Governor Tom Wolf signed the bill into law.

New Law on Texting and Driving in Pennsylvania

Daniel’s Law states that in addition to other penalties for vehicular homicide, texting while driving may add up to five years to a prison sentence if a person is killed as a result of negligence caused by texting.

According to the National Highway Safety Administration, distracted driving claimed almost 3,500 lives in 2015. Those were lives that were taken unnecessarily, lives that could have been spared.

Learn more about distracted driving laws by state.

Are tougher laws needed to combat distracted driving?

We’d like to hear your thoughts on the penalties for injuring or killing someone while texting and driving. What preemptive action can be taken instead of reaction to tragedies like Daniel’s?



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