While some states have already cracked down on texting while driving, and the NTSB and the Dept. of Transportation are looking to impose nationwide bans on cellphone use while driving, one small town is looking to tackle pedestrians as well as drivers.
Police in Fort Lee, New Jersey, a town of just over 35,000, will soon begin to ticket distracted walkers.
Back in March, the Police Department issued a notice about pedestrian safety. Along with wanring about proper use of crosswalks and heeding light cycles, they addressed cellphone use:
Pedestrians need to resist talking on their cell phones and/or taking their headphones off while crossing a street. These distractions can be catastrophic to the pedestrian who is too distracted to notice if a car is coming in their direction.
Apparently, that didn't really do much to alleviate the problem.
"They’re not alert and they’re not watching what they’re doing,” Police Chief Thomas Ripoli told CBS 2. “As of now, they are to give summonses to pedestrians who do not adhere to crosswalks and the lights.”
He went on to say that 2012 has seen 23 pedestrian accidents. Part of the problem, of course, is careless driving. But pedestrians themselves share the blame. We've seen stories from all over the world detailing the pitfalls of texting/talking while walking. Back in March, a woman walked off a pier in Michigan while texting, and just a couple of weeks ago a Chinese teen made international news when video surfaced of her talking on a cellphone just seconds before plunging into a sidewalk sinkhole.
As an April Fool's joke, the city of Philadelphia implemented texting-only E-lanes where those who wanted to text and walk could do so without endangering the well-being of others.
Look, I almost destroyed a kid tooling around on his iPod in the middle of the street the other day. I know how distracting a mobile device can be. While I'm not sure that I agree with on-the-spot ticketing of walking texters, I think we can all agree that people just need to pay attention. If you have to text, just pause for a second or sit down on a bench. Your time is well worth sacrificing to avoid a Taurus to the kneecaps. Trust me.