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Texting While Crossing the Street? One Senator Wants to Ban it

16 May 2019 3:38 PM

Albany – Boro Parkers may be adept at walking briskly down 13th Ave. without lifting their eyes from their ubiquitous phones but one state senator calls the practice dangerous and wants to slap stiff fines on the walkie-talkies.
“This is a bill that says don’t text while crossing the street,” said John Liu, a Democrat from Queens. “Wait the 10 seconds to get to the other side.”
The legislation, which was introduced into the Senate on Tuesday, is certain to evoke heated debate by New York’s storied community of walkers glued to their phones.
In a quick survey by boropark24.com, a cross section of that debate was already surfing.
“As a driver,” said Tuli Kohn, a Boro Parker walking on 13th Ave., “I often see people walking into the street not looking, because they are too busy on their phone.”
Kohn thinks the law has no chance of passing, and even less of a chance of getting enforced.
“If people can’t keep themselves back from being on their phone when they’re home with their wife and kids,” he wondered, “how will they hold themselves back when they’re on the street?”
Ari Laufer, another Boro Park denizen, said tongue in cheek that banning smartphone use while walking lead to “a serious problem with shemiras einayim.” He added, assumedly with the same seriousness, that he uses his phone as a distraction when he meets people he doesn’t want to talk to.
Sender Wieder disagreed, saying that law would be a good thing. “I’m a driver,” he said, “and people sometimes walk into my car.”
Liu’s bill would punish violators who look and walk with fines ranging from $50 for a first offense to $150 for a third one. The law’s intent has not made it yet into the mainstream — only some small cities in Hawaii and California have enacted it. If New York would pass it into law, it would be the largest of its kind.
All “portable electronic devices” would be affected by the law, including cellphones, personal digital assistants, laptops, pagers and electronic games. It would be a violation to hold the device while viewing, taking or transmitting images, playing games, or performing a command or request to access the internet, composing, sending, reading, viewing, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving or retrieving email, texts, instant messages, or other electronic data.
Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, a Democrat representing the farthest reaches of Boro Park — including, ironically, parts of 13th Ave. — is the sponsor in the Assembly.
The bill was sent to the transportation committees of both chambers for hearings and a vote.
The bill’s language notes that this past year, the National Safety Council added “distracted walking” as a dangerous category for the first time. This is after injuries from it rose from about 500 in 2000 to more than 2,000 accidents in 2011. More than 80 percent of those injuries resulted in falls.
“Walking and texting at the same time is most common to do, and it definitely can be dangerous if you aren’t careful,” the bill says. “The reason is simple; it takes away your ability to be alert.”

2 Responses

  1. Bp man

    Whoever’s going to pass that bill has my vote it’s very dangerous people don’t realize
    cars are always being blamed but people are texting while walking the street

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