Last year, the town of Fort Lee, N.J. began issuing tickets to jaywalking pedestrians caught “texting while walking.” And now, that approach to preventing resulting injuries is being looked at across the country, including in Nevada, where one assemblyman has proposed a law that would ban texting and walking on every Nevada state road and intersection.
According to Fort Lee police, the first half of 2012 alone saw three fatal accidents involving pedestrians in the town. And in 2010, pedestrians contributed to 20% of all New Jersey traffic deaths.
And this particular approach targets one angle of the problem. One article on the subject (http://www.northjersey.com/news/transportation/road_warrior/ROAD0511.html) put it this way: “when a driver on a cellphone meets a texter on foot – [this] too often leads to trips to hospitals or morgues.”
So Fort Lee took it upon itself to begin targeting jaywalking texters with $85 dollar tickets.
Then, last week, Nevada Assemblyman Harvey Munford (D) moved his bill – to prohibit pedestrians from texting while crossing state roads (except in cases of emergency) – into committee. Munford specifically cited the example of Fort Lee.
“When kids get out of school,” Munford told the L.A. Times, “where they’ve been banned from using their phones all day, they go immediately to their texts. I’ve seen several close calls myself where people have almost been hit. Kids are so addicted to those things. It’s almost become a plague.”
However, while states and cities contemplate similar moves, there are voices on both sides of this issue. As one Nevada newspaper put it, “some feel that the government has gone too far by attempting to criminalize every day activities and personal choices.”
Avoiding accidents and injury are certainly goals all can agree upon. But in a country filled with conflicting beliefs about politics and the law, there likely won’t be a “one-solution-fits-all” approach.
For the L.A. Times article, see: http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-texting-while-walking-nevada-assemblyman-wants-to-ban-it-20130301,0,2861036.story. For the Nevada story, see: http://www.examiner.com/article/nev-lawmaker-attempts-ban-on-texting-while-walking. And for an ABC News story on Fort Lee, N.J., see: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/05/texting-while-walking-banned-in-new-jersey-town/.