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30 March 2016

Textwalking Could Soon Be an Offence in New Jersey

Textwalking could soon be an offence in New Jersey
Times of India, 30 March 2016

Violators would face fines of up to $50 and 15 days’ imprisonment.

US lawmakers are hoping to ban people walking while they were distracted, including while texting.

The bill, which would bring the rules for walking along into line with drivers, and force pedestrians to make sure that they are concentrating on the path in front of them, would fine people who engage in “distracted walking”. People could even be imprisoned if they are using their phone while walking, under the new bill proposed by state assemblywoman in New Jersey.

Experts say distracted walking is a growing problem around the globe, as people of all ages become more dependent on gadgets for personal and professional matters. They also note pediestian deaths have been rising in recent years. 11% of all fatalities in 2005 involved pedestrians, but that number rose to 15% in 2014.

The rise in deaths coincide with states introducing bills that target pedestrians and bicyclists. For instance, a bill pending in Hawaii would fine someone $250 if he or she crossed the street with an electronic device.

“Thus far, no states have enacted a law specifically targeting distracted pedestrians,” said Douglas Shinkle, transportation program director for National Conference of State Legislatures.

The measure recently introduced by New Jersey assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt would ban walking while texting and bar pedestrians on public roads from using communication devices unless they are hands-free. Violators would face fines of up to $50, 15 days imprisonment or both. Half of the fine would be allocated to safety education, Lampitt, a Democrat, said.

Lampitt said it is needed to dissuade and penalize “risky behavior”. A study found a majority of those injured due to distracted walking were female and most were 40 or younger.


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