We have all heard of distracted driving, but what about distracted walking? Experts have seen an increase of distracted walking as people have become more dependent on their smartphones for personal and professional matters.
Whether texting, listening to music, or engaging in other activities on your smartphone, distracted walking has been a growing problem that has led to an increase in pedestrian injuries.
In 2014, hospital records showed that distracted walking was responsible for 78% of pedestrian injuries in the United States.
Recently, New Jersey assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt introduced a measure that would put a ban on walking while texting. The measure would also bar pedestrians from operating electronic communication devices while on public roads unless they are hands-free.
If the measure passes, the penalty would be the same as jaywalking in New Jersey, which is currently up to $50 in fines, 15 days of imprisonment, or both.
Lampitt introduced the measure as a means to dissuade and penalize “risky behavior,” claiming that “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.”
This is not the first time a bill targeting pedestrians and/or bicyclists in a similar manner has been introduced. Comparable bills introduced in New York, Illinois, Nevada, and Arkansas failed to pass. Hawaii currently has a bill pending that would fine individuals using an electronic device while crossing the street $250.
A hearing date for the proposed measure is yet to be scheduled.