Governor Wolf Signs Daniel’s Law
By Charles C. Umbenhauer
Daniel Gallatin was riding his motorcycle when he was hit from behind and killed by a woman who was texting while driving. The driver pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, texting while driving and reckless driving.
Even though this careless and senseless act caused the death of Daniel, the driver was sentenced to pay $250 in fines and serve 23 months in jail. The sentence was petitioned down to parole and house arrest two month’s later. Doesn’t seem quite right, an innocent person is dead because of someone else’s careless actions and yet their life returns pretty much to normal sixty days later.
That might have been the end of it if it had not been for Daniel’s daughter Michelle Gallatin-Baughman and her family. They decided there had to be changes to the law. She approached her state representative Jaret Gibbon’s and he agreed to offer legislation which would enhance the penalties for distracted driving that results in severe injury or death.
Michelle then went to her local ABATE Chapter, Lawrence County Chapter and asked for their assistance.
Representative Gibbons stated, “ABATE has consistently used their powerful voice to advocate for rights and protections that bikers deserve, and Daniel’s Law is another case that I know will benefit them.”
ABATE, along with the American Motorcyclist Association put in motion a series of events at the state capitol to muster support for new legislation now entitled Daniel’s Law. There were lobby days, motorcycle rallies, and letter writing campaigns, all calling attention to Daniel’s Law. The AMA published two articles in their monthly magazine, the American Motorcyclist, also calling for changes in the PA law.
After two years of committee meetings and various votes, on Wednesday, October 26 the House of Representatives concurred in Senate amendments to HB 2025. HB 2025 was a transportation omnibus bill which included provisions of HB 853-Daniels’s Law. Finally the bill was sent to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
On Friday, November 4, Governor Tom Wolf signed the bill into law at Scott Township Firehall in New Castle, PA which Daniel Gallatin spent forty years as a volunteer fireman, including twelve as chief.
“The state of Pennsylvania thanks you for this law.” Governor Wolf said after signing the bill using a red and silver pen marked with the words, “I support Daniel’s Law! Please don’t text and drive. “
It is important to remember that this bill just didn’t happen. It was the work of many ABATE members that started with the Lawrence County Chapter of ABATE and their legislative coordinator, Jim Connors. Much of the credit goes to Representative Jaret Gibbons who worked tirelessly for two years to see this through to a successful conclusion.
Great job ABATE of PA!
“I am proud to sign House Bill 2025 into law which enhances the penalties for distracted driving in Pennsylvania that results in a severe injury, or death,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “This behavior, which has been allowed to go under-punished for far too long, has been demonstrated to be just as dangerous as drunk driving. 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.”
According the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,328 deaths were caused by distracted driving nationwide in 2012 and approximately 421,000 people were injured in accidents involving a distracted driver. Here in Pennsylvania, more than 14,800 crashes in 2015 were caused by this practice, resulting in 66 deaths. It is imperative that we make sure that our drivers are aware of the consequences of distracted driving to eliminate senseless deaths caused by this dangerous behavior. Source: Fox 43