Speed cameras, cellphone bans: Do they make driving safer?

Gov. Shapiro just signed a new law cracking down on distracted driving. And Mayor Parker wants more speed cameras to slow Philly drivers. But would it really help save lives?

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Banks Way and Roosevelt Boulevard intersection

Banks Way and Roosevelt Boulevard in Philadelphia is where Latanya Byrd’s niece and her three sons were tragically struck and killed while crossing the road in 2013. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Distracted driving claims thousands of lives each year. We’ve all seen drivers talking or texting on their phones. Last week, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro signed a new law that bans handheld devices while driving. The bill is named after Paul Miller, a 21-year-old who lost his life to a driver who was reaching for his phone at the time of the collision. Since his tragic death, Paul’s mother Eileen Miller has advocated for safe roads and joins us to talk about the new law and how it will save lives. We’re also joined by Liz Walshe, a cognitive neuroscientist at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Walshe leads the Neuroscience of Driving research program focused on reducing motor vehicle crashes, particularly among young drivers.

Philadelphia plans to add speed cameras to more roads to slow down speeders. After the success of Roosevelt Boulevard’s cameras in reducing speeds and crashes, Mayor Cherelle Parker wants to install them on five of the city’s most dangerous streets, including Broad Street. Are speed cameras the answer to improve safety? What are the downsides to this form of automated enforcement? We’ll talk with Christopher Puchalsky, director of policy and strategic initiatives for the Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability, as well as Latanya Byrd, co-founder of Families for Safer Streets Greater Philadelphia, whose nieces and three nephews were killed on Roosevelt Boulevard. We’ll also hear from Jay Beeber, director of public policy and research for the National Motorists Association, which opposes speed cameras.

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