Though there's been a long-time ban on texting while driving throughout most of the USA, texting while engaging with traffic on-foot may be banned soon as well.
The New York State Senate aims to pass a bill that will ban pedestrians from using any electronic devices, except for emergency cases, while crossing the street. If passed, fines will range from $25 to $250 per offense.
State Senator John Liu presented one version of the bill to the Senate last week, hoping to quickly advance the issue.
When sharing his reasons behind the bill, Liu stated:
"It's hard not to notice the number of people texting while walking, and downright alarming to see people continuing their texting while crossing the street. We want New Yorkers to know it's OK to wait the 5 seconds."
Pedestrian deaths have been on the rise, particularly in instances of walking while distracted. In the Governors Highway Safety Association 2019 report, they estimated that there were approximately 6,227 pedestrian deaths involved in traffic collisions in 2018.
The report listed "the large growth in smartphone use" as a possible reason for the highest count of pedestrian traffic casualties in approximately three decades.
In order to be finalized, the bill must be approved by the transportation committees in the Assembly and the Senate before going to a full vote. Senator Tim Kennedy of the Senate Transport Committee voiced his concerns surrounding the bill, including an "overreach of government" into citizen privacy and social practices.
Whether or not the bill will be passed, Liu discussed the importance of at least presenting bills such as this one.
"Sometimes even proposing legislation reminds people of common sense things to do and common sense things not to do. If nothing else, the mere introduction of this bill has got people talking and thinking."
Looking to Twitter, clearly the conversation surrounding texting while walking has already started.
Whether followers are for or against the ban, an important conversation is underway nonetheless.
Whether or not the ban is finalized, it's important for smart phone users to remember that it's acceptable to wait the 5 to 10 seconds it takes to walk across a crosswalk before resuming phone use.
A call can always be returned, or a text or email replied to, once the recipient is safely across the street.
And preferably settled in a coffee shop.