States Mull Bans on Texting While Walking

Wednesday, 26 Jan 2011 12:52 PM

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Pedestrians and bicyclists with cellphones and portable music players are the new targets of public-safety bills recently introduced in four states, The New York Times reports. Fueled by incidents of distracted people stepping or cycling smack into vehicular traffic, the legislation would restrict or ban non-motorists from operating their mobile devices while navigating streets.

 

“The big thing has been distracted driving, but now it’s moving into other ways technology can distract you, into everyday things,” said Anne Teigen of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

 

The New York bill orders pedestrians to put aside their handheld gadgets while crossing streets. Bills in Oregon, Virginia, and California seek to curb bicyclists with similar electronic devices and impose fines for violations. 

 

Legislators say they have statistics and science on their side: recent increases in pedestrian fatalities; and research showing that PDAs and their ilk are very distracting, especially when combined with earbuds.

 

One New Yorker, Marie Wickham, said she understood the concern but counseled against more laws: “I think it’s an infringement on personal rights. At some point, we need to take responsibility for our own stupidity.”

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