New Bill Could Jail Pedestrians For Texting While Walking

Jessica Renae Buxbaum
A bill was introduced that could jail pedestrians for using their phones while crossing the street in a hopeful attempt to prevent the dangers of texting while walking.

woman crosses street while texting

A new bill is hoping to prevent the dangers of using your phone while crossing the street — by locking you up in jail.

New Jersey Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt introduced legislation that would slam individuals who use their phone on public pathways with a $50 fine and even a 15-day jail sentence for persistent offenders.

Pedestrians caught using a handheld device while crossing the street would face the same penalties as jaywalkers, with half the fine funding educational programs that teach the dangers of texting while walking.

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New Jersey had the 10th highest rate of pedestrian fatalities nationwide in 2014, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. The state had 33 pedestrian deaths in 2016 and 170 in 2015.

“Of particular concern were the 170 pedestrian fatalities, which represent nearly 31 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities,” New Jersey’s Department of Law and Safety wrote. “When compared to the national average of 14 percent, New Jersey is clearly overrepresented and must continue to take action.”

According to the GHSA, Pedestrian deaths tripled from 2004 to 2010, with 2 million pedestrian injuries related to phone use in 2010.

Yet the measure might have difficulty passing as similar bills failed in Arkansas, Nevada, and New York.

Despite the known hazards of using your phone while walking down the street,  our plugged-in society will have a hard time letting go of their phones — even if it is just to cross an intersection. 

Read more: 20-Year-Old Finds Way To Stop Teens From Texting While Driving

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