The Price You Pay For Walking & Texting
This past Summer I discussed how walking and texting could be extremely annoying, frustrating and quite dangerous for those committing this non-courteous act—and also for those of us who are subject to witnessing it. Since I’ve written that piece, it seems the percentage of people who continuously walk and text has soared! I had also mentioned that it’s not just walking and texting that’s the culprit here, but it’s also face-timing while walking, reading books on your mobile device, possibly Snap-Chatting, sending e-mails, and recording video. And all this probably occurs around the time when you’re trying to get from point A to B in an extreme hurry. It’s always a fun time slamming into someone who doesn’t realize you’re walking near them, while their head is submerged in their tiny blue-light screen. There’s one location so far in the U.S. that has had enough with people not paying attention while walking the streets, and if you live in this particular location, or visit on vacation, be prepared to “pay” for this bad habit.
I recently viewed on TV that Honolulu, Hawaii has passed a law called the Distracted Walking Bill, enabling police officers to ticket pedestrians texting while they walk in crosswalks. This law hopes to protect pedestrians from harming themselves if they walk in front of a moving vehicle without realizing it while using their phones. Those violating this bill will be subject to the following penalties: For a first-time violation, the fine will be no less than $15.00, but no more than $35.00. A second violation committed within one year after the date of the first will range from $35.00 - $75.00. For a third or more violation within the year after the first violation, the fine will range from $75.00 - $99.00. Please note, that this bill goes for anyone caught texting from their phone, glancing at their tablet or even playing their video game, while walking the crosswalk. The only permissible time to look at your screen while in the crosswalk, is if you need to contact 9-1-1.
So what catapulted this bill to fruition? The City of Honolulu cited the National Safety Council claiming, texting and walking poses a serious safety threat to pedestrians. Data released this year in a report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) projected an eleven percent increase in the number of pedestrians killed on U.S. roadways in 2016 compared to 2015. Also reported was a nine percent increase in pedestrian deaths in 2015 compared to 2014. Pedestrian deaths seemed to be linked to the increased use of cell phones. The GHSA states that pedestrian deaths in the United States increased twenty-five percent between 2010 and 2015. Another law similar to this was first issued in the state of Washington, outlawing distracted driving back in 2007. Now, forty-six other states as well as D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S., Virgin Islands, have laws against texting while driving.
Having a bill like this would seem to be the long-awaited answer to keeping everyone safe and realizing the necessity to be more responsible while walking the streets on their phones. However, there are those not too fond of this limitation. From some sites I’ve viewed online, some feedback was, “Well what if I’m answering a phone call, or ending the call and happen to look at my screen while in the crosswalk?” “How can they really catch everyone looking at their phones?” “Why can’t people just rely on common sense?” These seem like all valid questions to have, however for the last one, apparently, not everyone uses their common sense. What do I feel about this new law? Well, it hasn’t reached New York City yet, and if it ever does, police would have a field day writing tickets, and those getting fined would probably need to start working an extra job to keep up with their tickets.
As I mentioned in my last article, I always walk to the side of a building making sure I’m clearing the sidewalk for people as I look at my phone. I personally don’t look at my phone while in the crosswalk. I detach myself from technology to try and “be in the moment” of my life – it’s healthy and much needed. I understand there are tons of people out there - busier than me, that I assume feel the need to be on their phone 24/7. But is it really worth it when you’re causing harm to yourself or others because you’re not paying attention? I saw footage on television of a man on his phone not paying attention, when bear was actually moving toward him in a residential area—mind you why is the bear there in the first place—but the gentleman didn’t realize the bear was near him until he could probably shake its hand being that close! Sounds crazy, but we are just so consumed by what we hold in our hands and make that be more of a focus in life. That tweet or webpage you’re looking at won’t save your life or someone else’s in the crosswalk. I’m very much for this bill. I do though wonder how they will enforce it here in the NYC and what their process will be in catching those in the act!
Stay alert, safe, and courteous and smart everyone!!!!
References for this article: ABC News and City Council - City and County of Honolulu - Honolulu, Hawaii - Bill of Ordinance