Why Pedestrians Can Get Fined for Using their Phone

New Proposals and Regulations for Distracted Pedestrians

The Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) found that a staggering 6,000 people were killed while texting or using their phones while crossing roadways and intersections. In addition, the GHSA further advised that pedestrian fatalities are rapidly growing in comparison to other motor vehicle fatalities in the United States. With such a danger on the rise, what can be done?

Common Distractions to Pedestrians
Many researchers have found that some of the contributing factors to pedestrian fatalities include cell phone use, improperly-marked sidewalks / roads, quiet (electric) cars, wearing dark clothing, alcohol use and arterial roads.
New-Age Digital Distractions
We live in the age of constant distraction and multitasking. Distracted drivers meeting distracted pedestrians on he road is proving to be an increasingly deadly dilemma. In hopes of saving lives, some states have enacted legislation to deter the use of cellphones while driving and/or walking in traffic. The use of headphones can also be responsible for causing many accidents, since the sound of horns or sirens are difficult to be heard over high-tech sound-cancelling headphones.
Pomona-Valley Pedestrian Regulations
The city of Montclair in sunny-side California has already began combating this rise in pedestrian fatalities. This small Pomona-Valley city passed legislation on January 3, 2018, in order to make the following actions unlawful:

  • • Cross any street in the city of Montclair while engaged in a phone call
  • • Cross any street in the city of Montclair while viewing an electronic mobile device; and/or
  • • Cross any street in the city of Montclair while both ears are covered or obstructed by personal audio equipment.
Though these rules were implemented and to be followed immediately, there are, however, a few exceptions. These exceptions include:

  • • If the pedestrian is using their phone to call 911
  • • Persons with prescribed hearing devices; and/or
  • • If a person is an emergency responder and a device is needed within their job.
The penalties for violating this new law can vary, as it is considered an infraction. The following consequences can be imposed on those who violate it:

  • • 1st Offense: a fine of $100
  • • 2nd Offense: a fine not to exceed $200 if the same ordinance has been violated within a 12-month period
  • • 3rd Offense: a fine not to exceed $500 for every additional violation within a 12-month period
Warning for Safety
The new Ordinance is primarily enforced to deter, rather than to punish. Given this ordinance, the City Council believes that hitting people in the pockets is a good deterrent, rather than detainment.
Pedestrian Regulations in Hawaii
Honolulu, Hawaii passed similar legislation on October 25, 2017, making it illegal for a person to look at an electronic device while crossing any street or highway on the Island of Oahu.
Other State Regulations
California and Hawaii are not the only U.S cities attempting to curb distracted pedestrians. New York, Connecticut, Ohio, New Jersey, Illinois, and Arkansas have either introduced legislation, or proposed it. A state senator in Arkansas, however, dropped the plan to limit headphone use by pedestrians and bicycle riders to one ear.
Slowly, But Surely
In hopes of combatting this rising pedestrian-distraction epidemic, more and more U.S. cities, as well as some European cities, have begun to propose and implement safer regulations. While this may be fairly new to some, many individuals will soon begin to see the importance of pedestrian safety. Moreover, the more these communities begin to press non-distracted pedestrian safety, the more we can begin to see a change in pedestrian fatalities.

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