Put it down or pay up: Hawaii bans looking at mobile phones

The aim is to reduce injuries from "distracted walking"

Put it down or pay up: Hawaii bans looking at mobile phones

[Philip Toscano/PA Wire/PA Images]

Hawaiian authorities are to introduce a ban on pedestrians looking at their mobile phones while crossing the street.

The measure would see Honolulu the first major US city to bring in such a measure.

The aim is to reduce injuries and deaths from "distracted walking".

Anyone found looking at their phone faces a fine up to US$15 (€12) for the first offence, and up to US$99 (€83) for a third one in the same year.

The fines have been lowered from initial proposals, which would have seen people pay up to US$500 (€420) on a third infraction.

However the limit does not apply to audio equipment, so listening to music is still allowed.

Emergency responders would also be exempt from the ban, which will take effect on October 25th this year.

This is not the first phone restriction the Aloha state has brought in.

Back in 2006, Honolulu City Council passed a measure which limited electronic ringtones on buses.

This aimed to keep buses free from phone ringtones and other electronic sounds that are audible to anyone but the user.

It is already illegal to use your phone while driving.

Brandon Elefante is a member of Honolulu City Council. He told Newstalk Breakfast the onus to stay safe is on pedestrians, as well as motorists.

"It's a shared responsibility... on motorists and also to pedestrians and bicyclists.

"This new law now will make pedestrians be more responsible when they cross the street."

"If you're on a sidewalk you can text, look at your phone all you want.

"When you cross the street at an intersection or crossing you would not be allowed to do that.

"You can still make a phone call and hold the phone to your (ear) - or if you're playing music - just so long as you're not looking in the direction of your phone, or texting in most cases".