People walking with their eyes firmly attached to their mobile phone screens while strolling along busy streets is a sight many are familiar with. Apparently texting and walking can be dangerous and a handful of cities are taking action.

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Honolulu has passed a law, taking effect this Wednesday, that grants police permission to fine pedestrians up to $35 for viewing their electronic devices while crossing streets in the city and its surrounding area. The Hawaii located territory is believed to be the first major city to enact a ban like this.

People who text and walk are nearly four times as likely to engage in at least one dangerous action by improperly interacting with their environment. Taking 18 percent more time to cross a street than the undistracted population, jay walking or not looking both ways before crossing the street is common amongst so called “cell phone” zombies.


Last month the Board of Supervisors in San Mateo County, Calif., unanimously passed a resolution banning the use of cellphones while cross streets. It’s not enforceable however as state law governs such issues, the resolution is expected to go to the California Legislature for statewide consideration in January. 

“There is chaos in the crosswalks,” said David Canepa who enacted the California based measure. “I know it’s an issue. I’ve lived it. My cellphone is my life.”

As children, he said, we are taught to look both ways when crossing a street, but “you can’t look both ways when you’re looking down and texting.”

At least 10 states have considered and debated legislative action against distracted pedestrians in the streets. Ultimately, these states have backed down and no legislation has been passed. Legislation is pending in two states and in September, New York passed a law that forced Manhattan to concentrate efforts on educating the public about the dangers of distracted walking.

Bodegraven, a small town near Amsterdam has taken a different approach to distracted pedestrians. This year, it implemented LED illuminated strips in the crosswalk at busy intersections, catering to the phone user’s line of sight. This method of alerting pedestrians when it’s safe to cross is set to expand to other cities.

Should distracted pedestrians be handled by the law? Let us know in the comments.

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