Should texting and walking be illegal?
via AP

Should texting and walking be illegal?

#DontTextAndWalk
#UseCommonSense
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A New Jersey town wants to ban texting while walking in the street, and Mayor Bill de Blasio is considering a similar law in New York. Honolulu passed the Distracted Walking Law in 2017 which allows police officers to ticket people for texting in a crosswalk. The city of Honolulu argues the law protects pedestrians from stepping in front of moving vehicles, but others believe a penalty of up to $99 for texting is ridiculous; you can't enforce common sense. What do you think? 📱

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The City of Honolulu passed the Distracted Walking Law last year, making it the first American city to outlaw texting and walking. The law allows Honolulu police officers to ticket pedestrians for texting while crossing the street, with fines up to $99.

"Starting today, texting while walking in a crosswalk can get you a ticket," Hawaii Public Radio's Bill Dorman reports for our Newscast unit. "In fact, a downward glance at a screen of any kind will cost you — a phone, a tablet, a video game."
Under the new law, the only legal reason for a pedestrian to use a cellphone while crossing a street or highway would be to call 911 to report an emergency.

The City of Honolulu cited the National Safety Council, which claims texting and walking poses a serious safety threat to pedestrians.

“Distracted walking injuries involving cell phones accounted for an estimated 11,101 injuries between 2000 and 2011, making it a significant safety threat. The trend is so alarming that it was included for the first time in the annual National Safety Council statistical report, Injury Facts®, which tracks data around the leading causes of unintentional injuries and deaths.” 

But Jim Treacher of The Daily Caller thinks Honolulu's law and others like it are just examples of government overreach. While everyone can agree staring at your phone while walking into a street is probably not a good idea, he argues it is not the business of municipalities to enforce such laws.

This raises the age-old question: What is the function of government? Yes, staring at your phone in the middle of a busy city street is a bad idea. You could be injured or killed. But is that anybody’s business but yours? And how will this law be enforced? Will there be cops at every intersection, looking for people crossing the street with their phones out? Will it be done via surveillance camera? How do you prove somebody was reading a text, and not turning their phone off?
Just because something is a good idea doesn’t mean it’s a good law.

Many have echoed Treacher's concern. Does the government really have nothing better to do?

There were over 15,000 gun deaths last year alone. Is texting while walking really that big of a threat?

But others believe it is the government's job to keep us safe. If outlawing texting while walking will save lives, what's the big deal?

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