Quick Takes: Ticketing For Walking While Texting

Ban Ensures the Safety of Both Pedestrians and Drivers

In response to 23 car accidents and three deaths caused by people walking while texting, the police department in Fort Lee, N.J. has begun ticketing people for “careless walking.” Similar safety measures need to be taken by police officers around the country because texting can dangerously reduce awareness for both pedestrians and drivers.

The police only resorted to this policy after stopping and warning 575 individuals who were crossing in a dangerous manner, according to John Chichowski, a columnist for NewJersey.com. Since the incidents still persisted despite the warnings, the police began issuing tickets, resulting in 117 tickets handed out since late March. Pedestrians have a responsibility to be safe on roads, as seen in jaywalking laws spanning across nearly every U.S. state. This policy not only tries to protect pedestrians but also drivers that can only do so much to veer away from distracted texters.

While some might argue that this policy micromanages people and doesn’t treat them like capable adults, one must keep in mind that there is strong evidence that texting is distracting. There have been incidents of people walking into walls, falling into fountains and even almost walking into a bear — all of the incidents were caused by texting while walking, from an ABC report titled “Texting Dangers.” This, coupled with the accidents, deaths and the research that states that pedestrians are 60 percent more likely to swerve into someone while texting — reported by Mobiledia — reinforces the fact that this is something that would benefit the safety of citizens in the long-run.

This policy has only been implemented after accidents, deaths and warnings by the police. It is a policy aimed for the protection of both pedestrians and drivers.

— ALEKS LEVIN
Staff Writer

Lawmakers Should Focus on More Pressing Safety Concerns

The police of Fort Lee, N.J., have recently begun issuing $85 fines to citizens caught texting while crossing the street. While lawmakers have the right intentions, this new ban unnecessarily micromanages citizens and discounts the notion of personal responsibility. It is more important for lawmakers to invest in other safety efforts, such as a more aggressive campaign to punish distracted drivers.

Laws requiring drivers to put down their cell phones while driving are reasonable, but to expect the same thing of pedestrians is going too far. When a driver in the United States gets behind the wheel, he accepts huge legal responsibilities such as having normal or corrected-to-normal vision, functioning brake lights and placing children in appropriate safety seats. Drivers can be expected to obey these laws because they are tested and licensed before driving, while pedestrians have no such contract.

Furthermore, distracted texting only endangers the life of the person texting, while distracted driving poses a threat on a much wider scale. Laws are costly to enforce, and having to police such a petty ban is an inefficient use of officials’ time. It would be more beneficial for lawmakers to prioritize their efforts on more threatening public safety concerns. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that there were 4,280 pedestrian fatalities in 2010, with the majority due to urban arterial roads that are not accommodating to pedestrians. According to David Goldberg, spokesman for the Transportation for America campaign, the creation of more safe crosswalks would be essential to preventing pedestrian deaths. 

The bottom line is that it is over the top to impose this ban — the dangers of distracted walking should be left to the discretion of individuals.

— HILARY LEE

Associate Opinion Editor

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