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Tickets For Texting While Walking? A New Jersey Lawmaker Wants To Make It So

textWe all know distracted walkers — you know, the folks who can’t look up from their smartphones for long enough to watch where they’re going. Now a New Jersey lawmaker wants these walking hazards to be subject to tickets — and possible jail time.

New Jersey Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, D, introduced the legislation this month that would slap a $50 fine and possible jail time on pedestrians who text while crossing the street. She points to the increased prevalence of pedestrian versus car collisions involving people using cell phones while walking, according to

Under the bill, anyone found guilty of using a handheld phone while crossing the street would face the same penalty as jaywalkers, with half the fine going to educational programs on the dangers of texting while walking, according to the site. Persistent offenders could face 15 days in jail, according to

“I see it every single day,” Lampitt said, according to the site. “Maybe they will think twice about it.”

New Jersey had the 10th highest pedestrian fatality rate nationwide in 2014 — at 1.88 per 100,000 — according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. New Mexico, Florida and Delaware had the highest rates. New Jersey has had 33 pedestrian deaths in 2016, and had 170 in all of 2015.

Nationwide, there were as many as 2 million pedestrian injuries related to cell phone use in 2010, and pedestrian deaths tripled between 2004 and 2010, according to the GHSA.

“Of particular concern were the 170 pedestrian fatalities, which represent nearly 31 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities,” said New Jersey’s Department of Law and Safety. “When compared to the national average of 14 percent, New Jersey is clearly overrepresented and must continue to take action.”

One New Jersey doctor was candid about the potential impact of texting while walking.

“This is an intoxicant,” Dr. John D’Angelo, head of emergency medicine at Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth, N.J., said while holding a cell phone, according to “It’s worse than alcohol or drugs for drivers and pedestrians. They’re less aware (of what’s going on around them).”

But Lampitt’s measure faces hurdles going forward. It’s yet to be posted for a vote and, she told, and she might have difficulty getting it passed. Similar measures have failed in Arkansas, Nevada and New York.

“If it builds awareness, that’s okay,” she said.

(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Faiz Siddiqui

2 Responses

  1. This is brilliant!!! Another intrusion by government, trying to legislate everything! If people are stupid enough to walk and text and they get hurt, so be it. What next? Legislating how big a Coke can be?

  2. “If people are stupid enough to walk and text and they get hurt, so be it”

    I agree. However, since people are not allotted their own sidewalks or grocery aisles for shopping, it affects me when they bump into me, knock my packages out of my hand or knock me over. Therefore I say, fine away. Perhaps the threat of a monetary fine will get people to stop being so self centered and absorbed in their own little world and pay attention that they dont annoy, or worse hurt, other people.

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