If you live in New York and text while walking, you may soon have to pay a hefty fine. Considering how dangerous texting is while crossing the street, a new bill has been introduced by the State Senate making it illegal for people to keep their eyes glued to their smartphone while on the road. According to the bill by Democrats who control the state Legislature, police can issue a ticket between $25 to $50 for a first offence on getting caught. Repeat offenders caught within 18 months would be hit with fines as high as $250. However, you can escape the fine if you can prove it was an emergency. The bill states, "No pedestrian shall cross a roadway at any point while using any portable electronic device." Texting Can Both Make and Break Relationships: Study.
The bill was first introduced last year by Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, D-Brooklyn, but it received majority support in the Senate only earlier this month. The bill further reads, "It has been proven that distraction from texting while walking can cause pedestrians to cross roads very unsafely. Not only can trips and falls occur, but even getting hit is more than just a possibility." The Side Effects of Smartphone Addiction: How Too Much Texting Can Cause Text Neck Syndrome.
The bill referred to facts and figures from safety studies including the National Safety Council which points at the dangers of using a mobile phone while walking on the road. It also said that teenagers are more likely to get hit by a vehicle compared to others. On their website, it states, "The National Safety Council is focused on efforts to eliminate distracted walking – specifically walking while using a mobile device. Kids often don't recognize the dangers of distracted walking."
Honolulu in Hawaii and Montclair in California made it illegal to walk across the street while looking at a phone recently. States like Connecticut and New Jersey have also introduced legislation to have statewide bans on the same.
It is unclear whether the ban will become law before the legislative session ends in mid-June. However, Senate Transportation Committee chairman Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo expressing concerns about the bill said, "As someone who has rallied for significant pedestrian safety reforms for years, I prioritize the protection and security of all New Yorkers, but it appears to me as though this is an overreach of government." Kennedy said that he would not support the current bill, but "I'm always open to discussing ways to reach common sense solutions, especially when they're created with the best interests of New Yorkers in mind."