A New Jersey Lawmaker Wants to Fine People for Texting While Crossing the Street

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Commuters browse internet on street
Cut that out, man. Photo: PIYAL ADHIKARY

You know how it goes: You get a text just as the light changes. It’s from Garrett, he wants to chill l8r, prolly. You immediately hit him back, just to tell him you’re down, and suddenly you’re in the middle of Broadway and a car is screeching to a halt to avoid hitting you. Well, Pamela Lampitt, who represents Cherry Hill in the New Jersey State legislature, presented a bill on Monday that would make texting and crossing the street akin to jaywalking. She’d impose a $50 fine, or a jail sentence of up to 15 days, for answering Garrett before you get to the opposite curb (oh, and for putting yourself, as well as drivers and pedestrians around you, in mortal danger).

We need to have people be more aware of what’s going on around them,” Lampitt told the Mahwah Patch. “Even if you have permission [from the signal] to walk, you should not be distracted, you should be aware of what’s going on around you, especially in the street.” Lampitt works at the University of Pennsylvania, and one of her students was hit by a bus and killed while texting.

Pedestrian injuries relating to cell-phone distraction have become commonplace and are up 35 percent since 2010. Some researchers say 10 percent of the 78,000 pedestrian injuries in the United States in 2012 owed something to mobile-device use, according to Pew Charitable Trusts. Other such bans have been proposed — Israel passed a bill in 2014 that prohibited crossing the street with headphones in — and a push to cut down on distracted street crossing and make texting pedestrians more aware of their surroundings has been part of New York mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero campaign. 

Fine for Texting and Crossing the Street in N.J.