Cell phones and cars are not a safe combination. Of course, that’s true even when the cell phone is being used by someone crossing the street on foot, rather than driving a car. The ongoing fight to reduce the number of fatal pedestrian accidents has led one New Jersey assemblywoman to propose a bill banning the use of cell phones without hands-free devices while walking on public sidewalks. Under the bill, offenders would be subject to a fine of up to $50. Repeat offenders would face as much as 15 days in jail.
Other jurisdictions across the country have attempted to prevent pedestrians from walking while distracted, but as of yet none of the legislative efforts have been successful. The measure is unlikely to succeed here, either, but it may help bring attention to a growing problem. A survey of children between the ages of 13 and 18 found that 40 percent had been hit or nearly hit by a vehicle while walking. Of that 40 percent, nearly half were either listening to music, texting or talking on the phone.
Pedestrians have the right of way at every marked crosswalk. They generally have the right of way at unmarked crosswalks. While efforts to improve pedestrian safety through education, enforcement and improved traffic engineering have seen success, pedestrian injuries and fatalities are still more common in New Jersey than they are in the nation as a whole. While it isn’t clear that distracted walking is more common here than in other places, it is clear that more should be done to prevent these accidents.
Source: Epoch Times, “Texting While Walking in New Jersey May Get You Fined, and Jail Time,” by Sherley Boursiquot, 28 March 2016