Is a law against texting an answer to the increase in pedestrian deaths?

By mbrooks on May 20, 2019
File – Two pedestrians walks past padded lamp posts whilst texting in Brick Lane on March 4, 2008 in London, England. Brick Lane has become the first ‘Safe Text’ street in the UK. the padded lamp posts have been introduced to combat the 6.5 million street injuries that occur from walking and texting. (Photo by Micha Theiner/Getty Images)

By Matthew Brooks

If you cross the street, look both ways. But don’t look down at your cellphone. This is the message being sent by the New York Senate in a bill that would criminalize using your phone while crossing the street.

Pedestrian deaths are at a nearly 30-year high. The number has been steadily climbing for a decade.

Approximately 6,220 pedestrians were killed in traffic in 2018, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

A single, defined cause of the increasing number of pedestrians is not clearly identified by the study.

Larger vehicles such as SUVs and distracted pedestrians on their smartphones are two factors that may behind the deaths.

Measures to make texting safer has already been implemented in London. The city has padded some street lamps to cut down on the estimated the 6.5 million injuries in the UK related to texting and walking.

From 2009 to 2017, the numbers of smartphones increased fivefold, according to the study. The amount of wireless data traffic increased even more than that during that time period.

The New York Senate may have an answer for the texting problem. The Senate of The Empire State is considering a bill that would make it illegal to text and walk at the same time.

The bill, S5746, makes several actions with practically any electronic device illegal while the user is walking.

Under the law, no pedestrian “shall cross a roadway at any point while using any portable electronic device.”

This proposed ban would apply to any device with mobile data access that is capable of inputting, writing, sending, receiving or reading a text.

Under the law, the user would be prohibited from viewing messages, taking or sending images, playing games, browsing, or doing just about anything a smartphone can do.

A first offense can elicit a $50 fine, a second offense a $100 fine, and a third offense a $250 fine.

And don’t send a spam text while crossing the street. That would break federal law and the proposed state law.


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