Home / Lawmakers Propose Banning Texting While Walking

Lawmakers Propose Banning Texting While Walking

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Every day I’m annoyed by people walking around the city distracted by smartphones and music players and not paying attention to anything going on around them. They stop abruptly in the middle of walking to read a text, so that you have to trip over yourself to avoid walking into them; they step off the curb and nearly get hit by vehicles; while talking on the phone they weave all over the sidewalk like toddlers. While I have long viewed this problem as a social malaise, lawmakers in at least two states see it as a safety issue and are proposing laws to control it.

According to New York State Senator Carl Kruger, who represents part of Brooklyn, two fatalities caused by use of personal electronic devices have occurred in his district, including the death of a man who walked in front of a bus while listening to his iPod. His proposed legislation would make using such devices while in major city crosswalks illegal.

Arkansas State Senator Jimmy Jeffress is also introducing a bill that would restrict pedestrians’ use of cell phones and music players. A headphone in one ear would be OK, but not both ears.

No word on whether anyone is proposing such measures in Pennsylvania, where a distracted woman walked into a mall fountain recently. There’s a lot of annoying giggling in this video:

I guess it’s funny until someone gets hurt.

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About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is a Publisher and Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Culture, where he reviews NYC theater; he also covers interesting music releases. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting at http://www.orenhope.com/ you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. Jon also writes the blog Park Odyssey at http://parkodyssey.blogspot.com/ where he visits every park in New York City. And by night he's a part-time working musician: lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado, a member of other bands as well, and a sideman.
  • Legislating this stuff does seem excessive. Instead of banning these activities, let’s just make it legal to punch people if they are walking around without paying attention to their surroundings. That would satisfy me I think.

  • Steven Tarr

    How stupid this is! are we in a communist country? whats next?? banning chewing gum while walking??? if one ban’s everything that stupid people do, we might as well stay in bed and never leave the house…

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    My only problem is that people who are tethered to whatever device they may be using expect you to keep an eye out for them. But, even if I am walking without headphones, especially into a crosswalk, I still get an attitude by people in cars because they don’t know the rules of the road either. Probably, because they are tethered as well… So, what are we to do??

  • People don’t stand in one place though, that’s the problem. They keep walking and weaving, weaving and walking, and getting in MY WAY.

  • Lu Ann

    I agree that this is just way off the rocker. Why do they have to decide to ban something that most people are actually conscious of. I mean its not that hard to stand in one place and text, don’t most people multi-task? The Legislator are stepping over their boundary so to speak

  • Jackie

    I agree about out-of-proportion responses. Legislating every moment of our lives is not the answer to society’s problems. I believe that laws against idiocy simply breed more idiocy…

  • I strongly suspect that suing didn’t even occur to the woman until the video went viral and she got a call from some opportunistic lawyer…

  • That woman in the fountain now plans to sue mall security for not coming to her aid. Forget the fact she got up right after she in! Sheesh. Guessing the water was a large hint. Too bad it wasn’t a wake up call.

  • Well, lawmakers do tend to jump on these things with out of proportion responses. I’m always conscious of “nanny-state” excesses. I’m perpetually torn between ideals of individual rights and autonomy, vs. the obvious fact that people are idiots.

  • The plain fact of the matter is that humans don’t, for the most part, pay attention to what’s going on around them. That’s true whether the distraction is a smartphone or a newspaper.

    I’m reminded of an episode in which Sherlock Holmes points out to Watson that although he (Watson) has climbed the stairs to their apartment many thousands of times, he does not know how many stairs there are.

    While this might not be the sort of knowledge Watson would need on a day-to-day basis, it becomes of profound importance if, say, there’s a fire at 221B Baker Street and you can’t see the stairs for the smoke.

    On the whole, though, we lead charmed lives and do just fine even walking around with blinkers on. Sen. Kruger might want to put things in perspective by considering that in a crowded, chaotic place like Brooklyn, a mere two personal electronic device-related deaths is a pretty good return.