Perpetrators could face a fine or even jail time
A “distracted walking” measure was recently proposed by New Jersey state assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt. If introduced, it will be illegal to walk while texting and will ban pedestrians on public roads from using devices unless they are hands-free.
If the measure comes into place, violators would face fines of up to $50, 15 days imprisonment or both, which is the same penalty as jaywalking. Half of the fine would be allocated to safety education about the dangers of walking and texting, Lampitt said.
"Distracted pedestrians, like distracted drivers, present a potential danger to themselves and drivers on the road," explains Lampitt. "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."
The state assemblywoman continued to say the measure is needed to dissuade and penalize "risky behavior", citing a National Safety Council report that shows distracted walking accidents involving mobile phones accounted for an estimated 11,101 injuries between 2000 and 2011.
However, it seems that New Jersey is not the only place that such a measure is being considered, as a pending bill in Hawaii will also look to fine smartphone users up to $250 for using their device while crossing the street.