August 11, 2016
Earlier this week, we highlighted proposed legislation in New Jersey that would expand the scope of distracted driving to potentially include such activities as drinking coffee. Motorists expressed outrage at the idea and resented the prospect of facing the stiffest fines in the United States.
That doesn't even come close to touching what's depicted in a video obtained by 6ABC and published Wednesday night.
Action News spoke with Sarah and Shawn Delong, the couple who filmed the unidentified woman dangerously steering her car with her feet as she used her cellphone.
"Someone is going to get killed, that's why I was so mad," said Sarah Delong. "You see people on their phones all the time, but that took the cake."
The couple said they followed the woman for a good 20 minutes and observed her swerving at various points. When they tried to get her attention, she allegedly smiled at them and carried on with her feet on the wheel.
In April, the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts released a report on last year's alarming rise in distracted driving citations, a 43 percent increase over 2014 numbers. A full 40 percent of the 2,857 citations went to people in their 20s, while Montgomery County led the state with 298.
Pennsylvania's texting law for drivers carries a fine of $50. Since it is a "primary law," officers can pull drivers over without witnessing another violation. It isn't immediately clear whether the woman in the video, if apprehended, would face an additional reckless or careless driving charge for operating the vehicle with her feet. The Pennsylvania Vehicle Code (Title 75) defines reckless driving as follows:
Reckless driving occurs when an individual drives their vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of other people or property. A conviction for this charge is a summary offense and can result in a fine of $200. Willful usually means intentionally, knowingly or purposefully.
Careless driving is defined as follows:
Any person who drives a vehicle in careless disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of careless driving, a summary offense.
Pennsylvania State Police have yet to provide a comment on the video.