Walking in New Jersey while busy on a Smartphone can prove to be costly as anyone seen using a Smartphone without a hands-free will face jail time and will be ordered to pay $50 in fine if the bill is passed.
A bill with the name of “distracted walking” is being introduced by state assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt. She said, “Distracted pedestrians, like distracted drivers, present a potential danger to themselves and drivers on the road. 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”. She told that half of the amount of collected fine by offenders will be given to safety education about the dangers of walking and texting.
20-year-old Jared Schumacher is one of those individuals who uses electronic devices for multiple purposes when outside home and walking. According to him, “I admit that I’m usually listening to music, talking on my phone or texting while I’m walking around. I’ve never hurt myself, but I’ve seen people walk into poles or trip over a big crack in the sidewalk”.
The issue of distracted walking is increasing day by day and it is now becoming a serious problem all over the world, according to experts. An estimate shows that 11% of all the deaths that happened in 2005 were of pedestrians and the rate increased to 15% in the previous year. The bills to keep pedestrians safe were introduced in many countries and the bills related to distracted walking have failed in many states.
Transportation program director for the National Conference of State Legislatures, Douglas Shinkle said, “Thus far, no states have enacted a law specifically targeting distracted bicyclists or pedestrians. A few states continue to introduce legislation every year”.
Many incidents related to distracted walking have taken place which includes a teen who dropped into a manhole while he was busy looking at the screen of his Smartphone. An Oklahoma man was bitten by a snake because he didn’t see the snake while walking; he was busy on his Smartphone. In another case, a Florida woman was struck by a train while she was busy texting.
If the proposed bill is passed, then walking while texting will be banned and using a Smartphone without a hands-free while walking on the road will not be permitted.
Some people are of the opinion that it is an unnecessary approach.
According to Lampitt, the bill was required to penalize “risky behavior” as a National Safety Council report revealed that 11,101 sustained serious injuries from distracted walking from the year 2000 to 2011.
A study showed that the number of females injured due to distracted walking is more than males; most of the females were below the age of 40 years. More than half of the injuries were sustained by falling and a low percentage was due to the pedestrian striking a motionless object. The most common injury types sustained by pedestrians while distracted walking included dislocations or fractures, sprains or strains.
The date of hearing on the proposed New Jersey measure is not set yet.