Even though laws against distracted driving in most states across the U.S. still need to make a significant amount of improvement, they are light years ahead of laws against distracted walking, which until recently were essentially non existent. Both distracted driving and distracted walking accidents cause serious injuries and death.
New Jersey Assembly Congresswoman Pamela Lampitt has proposed a distracted walking bill that would make it illegal for pedestrians to text and walk at the same time. This proposed distracted walking ban would come with the chance of a $50 fine for violating the law, and it would be the first law against distracted walking to possibly punish offenders with a short jail sentence.
This new law against distracted walking in New Jersey would prohibit pedestrians from texting on any electronic communication system or device while walking unless it is 100% hands free in attempt to decrease the total number of pedestrian accidents. Violators of the law would not only be subject to a $50 fine, but also as much as 15 days’ imprisonment for a first time offender.
Like distracted driving, distracted walking is becoming an ever increasing problem and safety concern all across the United States. Densely populated states like New Jersey and New York see the highest number of distracted walking accidents and injuries. In New Jersey it has reached a point where one out of every three traffic accident fatalities is a pedestrian victim.
A recent report released by the National Safety Council indicates that distracted walking accidents involving electronic devices have accounted for over 11,100 injuries between the years 2000 and 2011. This same report states that pedestrian deaths have also been growing from 11% of all road fatalities involving pedestrians in 2005 to 15% in 2014.
Since the proposal of this bill banning distracted walking in New Jersey, many experts have come out claiming that distracted walking is in fact a growing problem not only in the U.S., but around the entire world. Most experts believe the number one reason for this rising problem to be people becoming more and more dependent on technology.
People against this bill argue that this law will not be easy enough for authorities to enforce, and that they have more serious matters to deal with then writing tickets to people texting while walking. Opposition also points to similar laws failing in New York, Arkansas, and Nevada as reasons for this bill not to pass.
Personally, I have mixed feelings on if laws against distracted driving and distracted walking are the best prevention tactics to decrease and eventually put an end to auto accidents involving distracted drivers and walkers. I do however feel very strongly that it is important for both to be illegal across the U.S. because we need to send the right message to younger generations that it is not okay to do, and can lead to serious injuries and even death.