Times Record News (Wichita Falls, Texas)
These boots are made for walking, just not while you’re texting.
At least not in Fort Lee, N.J., population 35,000, where the city has made it a ticketable offense to text and walk at the same time. This means texting while walking multitaskers may be fined up to $85 for each incident of “careless walking.”
The city says the fine is being implemented because of increased pedestrian accidents – three fatal pedestrian-involved accidents this year.
Even so, a texting and walking statute such as this is going a little too far.
Despite overzealous city leaders implementing the punishment in the name of safety, one that smells of excessive regulation, it sounds like Fort Lee may just be trying to find a way to bring in some extra income.
Not that texting and walking isn’t becoming an issue.
Remember Bonnie Miller, who in March made national headlines when she fell of f a pier into a river connected to Lake Michigan? She was strolling along the pier when she decided to send a text message.
And who hasn’t seen the viral video of the Pennsylvania woman who falls into the water fountain at the mall while texting?
Some people really can’t walk and chew gum at the same time – or text, for that matter.
Fort Lee, by the way, isn’t the only community trying to address this whole careless walking pickle.
According to an article by the Wilmington (Del.) News Journal, the Utah Transit Authority made distracted walking around trains punishable by a $50 fine. And Delaware also is dealing with this emerging distracted-by-technology problem. But instead of fining distracted walkers, it has rolled out a safety campaign involving large stickers with the words “Look Up” on sidewalks near crosswalks in Wilmington, Newark and Rehoboth Beach, hoping pedestrians will actually pay attention to the world around them – particularly that large public bus barreling their way.
Research from Ohio State University, according to the Wilmington (Del.) News Journal article, showed cellphone use by pedestrians led to more than 1,000 emergency room visits nationwide in 2008.
Even so, walking and texting doesn’t seem to demand the same kind of attention as the more perilous issue of driving and texting, which is banned in 38 states. In the case of driving while texting, the chance of a texter hurting not only themselves but others because they’re operating a vehicle traveling at high speeds is exponentially higher than walking and texting, which in most cases seems to generally hurt only the texter – texters who are apt to fall into mall water fountains or off piers and into rivers connected to Lake Michigan.
If Fort Lee is to fine its attached- to-technology populace for careless walking in general, shouldn’t it not only fine for walking and texting but: walking and listening to your iPod, walking and talking on your cellphone, walking and talking to your buddy, walking and doing the crossword puzzle, or walking and talking to your dog?
Fort Lee, thank you for thinking of the safety of pedestrians, but just walk away from this one. You can’t protect people from stupid.
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