Malagari supports legislation to improve safety on Pa. roads

LANSDALE, Sept. 12 – Every year, needless deaths on Pennsylvania roadways can be avoided. In an effort to make roads safer and protect pedestrians and drivers, state Rep. Steve Malagari will soon introduce multiple pieces of legislation to improve roadway safety.

  • He wants to increase fines for drivers found guilty of texting while driving.
  • He wants to require drivers to stop at a crosswalk when pedestrians are waiting to cross a street.
  • And he wants to allow farmers to grant easements on their land for use as non-motorized recreation trails.

“Everyone is aware texting while driving endangers lives, yet the fines we have in place are not stopping it from happening,” said Malagari, D-Montgomery. “My legislation was written after talking to a constituent who had a family member involved in an accident that could have easily been avoided if a driver had not been texting while driving.

“This constituent expressed their concern that Pennsylvania’s current $50 fine is not impeding this dangerous and illegal practice that results in more than 3,000 deaths each year.”

Malagari has proposed increasing the texting while driving fine to $200 to $400 for a first-time offense. For a second offense, he is proposing a fine ranging from $400 to $600. For a third offense, guilty drivers would receive a fine of $600 to $800, three points on their driver’s license and a 90-day suspension of their driver’s license.

Malagari has also proposed a law to require vehicles on both sides of the road to stop at crosswalks when pedestrians are waiting to cross a street. His legislation proposes fines of $50 for guilty drivers, and a $200 fine if the offense occurs within a school zone.  

“A constituent reached out to me after nearly being hit by a car while pushing their child in a stroller in a crosswalk,” Malagari said. “We need legislation that will protect pedestrians – including school children – who are simply attempting to cross a road. These new fines would create the need for drivers to be aware while driving near crosswalks and school zones, and once this legislation is on the books it would educate our new generation of drivers on the need for pedestrian safety.”

In addition, he has addressed the fact that many pedestrian fatalities occur in rural areas where no sidewalks are present. His legislation would provide farmers and landowners with tax breaks and other incentives if they allow the public to use trails on their agricultural easements, free of charge. 

“While the volume of traffic on many of our country roads does not compare to what we encounter in small towns around the state, in many instances these roads are unsafe for foot traffic,” Malagari said. “There simply is nowhere for pedestrians to go to avoid a driver that veers in their path.

“Agricultural easements preserve Pennsylvania’s farmland and open spaces for current and future generations. Allowing walkable trails to the public would protect our open spaces and benefit farmers, while at the same time it would connect our community to our beautiful landscapes.”   

Malagari has circulated memos to his colleagues seeking support for these three measures.