Since texting while driving has been banned already in 46 states, New Jersey is considering a new law that would make it illegal to text while you are walking on the street. Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt is the legislator who has proposed the ban that includes penalties of fifteen days in jail or $50 fines.
These penalties are the same as for jaywalking in New Jersey, and fifty percent of the proceeds of the fines will be invested in pedestrian safety education. As Lampitt has stated for ABC News,
“Distracted pedestrians, like distracted drivers, present a potential danger to themselves and drivers on the road. An individual crossing the road distracted by their smartphone presents just as much danger to motorists as someone jaywalking and should be held, at minimum, to the same penalty.”
The data on the matter suggests the same danger of being distracted while on the street. The GHSA (Governors Highway Safety Association) has released an annual report in March showing that pedestrian fatalities have risen with ten percent in 2015 while overall traffic deaths have decreased with four percent. Only in the first half of last year, the lives of 2,368 pedestrians were ended by vehicles.
According to Richard Retting, who works at Sam Schwartz Consulting, pedestrian safety is truly a growing problem in the United States, since last year’s surge is the greatest since the beginning of the national records. While driver or passenger deaths seem to have decreased thanks to tougher cars, the increase in pedestrian fatalities seems to happen because of them being distracted by their smartphones. Furthermore, it also appears that cell phone distraction can be blamed for 11,101 injuries that took place between 2000 and 2011.
Whether the proposal will be adopted or not, it remains to be seen. Similar initiatives were proposed in New York, Illinois and Arkansas, but also Utah, such as the ordinance meant to fine those using their phones while crossing rail tracks. However, none of these were implemented. Another legislation that would fine anyone who texts when crossing the street with $250 is currently pending in Hawaii.
Those who oppose these initiatives believe they would distract policemen from other matters that are more serious, but also that the government is not meant to monitor the usage of cell phones. However, the risk remains, and the population needs to understand the dangers they are exposing themselves to when not paying attention to the road.
Image Source: English Channel
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