Attention Pennsylvanians — put the cell phones down while driving! 

June 6 — Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro yesterday signed into law a ban on using hand-held cell phones while behind the wheel of a vehicle. 

The law is called Paul Miller’s law and will allow law enforcement to ticket drivers using hand-held cell phones while operating a motor vehicle in PA. 

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “It is a surprise how long it took and what continues to be a surprise is there still is no appetite for municipal municipalities to get some radar guns in their downtown areas. One that is tucked away in the bill, this extra law baked in here. It also includes an opportunity to work to prevent bias. So in this law, police officers if they pull you over are going to be collecting race, ethnicity and gender information. That is a part of that law which the governor signed yesterday.” 

Attorney Clint Barkdoll noted, “The House and the Senate actually passed this law quite some time ago. I think at the time, Governor Shapiro indicated he would sign it and I don’t know why it took this long for him to actually sign it, but he did finally sign yesterday. Pennsylvania is way behind most of the country in this regard that you can’t be using your hand-held device while you’re driving. You can only use hands-free, Bluetooth technology. So if you are seen doing that, that’s going to be a fine, it’s going to be a ticket. But part of this law also authorizes police, requires police to now collect demographic vital stats that will be entered into the police database when these tickets are written. So we know already on there, of course would be your name and age and your address, but your ethnicity, your race will now be in there and a lot of people from a law enforcement standpoint and again, the House and the Senate and the governor apparently agree with this, that data can be very valuable for various purposes, not only future laws, future legislations following maybe trends that are affecting certain groups more than others. But from just a law enforcement standpoint, that kind of information can be very useful. So that will now be part of what happens in Pennsylvania pursuant to this new law.”

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM said, “I also worry that that data can also be very manipulatable. We realize that the whole equity ideology bases a lot of what it claims on just pure statistics without context. That has been abused so much in the last five to 10 years. I worry that that’s unfortunately what’s going to happen with this. Data may be valuable, but it’s also very powerful. It then can be used in ways that are not helpful and actually mislead people into believing certain things are happening that are not really happening because again, sometimes often divorced from all context.”

Barkdoll agreed, “It’s a valid concern. Now, most other states also have similar initiatives already in place. People need to be cautious because we know that data can be manipulated for certain purposes. But it’s something I’m sure groups will be following very closely to see how and what Pennsylvania does with this information.”