Montclair, California residents, take note. The city has banned texting while crossing the street, a dangerous practice that many are guilty of, mindlessly looking at their phones while crossing an intersection.
The city posted a notice on its website to inform their residents of the ordinance, requiring them to not only stop texting while walking and crossing the street, but also banning talking on cell phones or having headphones in both ears.
The notice reads: “Like drivers, pedestrians have always been engaged in multi-tasking behavior such as the use of handheld phones, music listening devices, and other electronic devices. The effects of such behavior can relate to that of a distracted driver. Distracted drivers differ from distracted pedestrians in the fact that distracted driving has policies and interventions in place to improve safety, where such safety measures are not in effect for pedestrians.”
City Manager Edward Starr noted that he took a page from an ordinance passed in Honolulu last year, telling the Los Angeles Times: “The youth admit that they are distracted by their cellphones. This has turned out to be a reminder for them that their lives are on the line.”
Violation of the ordinance is currently only a warning as the system is being implemented, but police will begin fining those in violation starting in August. The fines will be $100 for a first -time violation, $200 for a second violation within 12 months, and $500 for each subsequent violation.
The LA Times reports that, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “In 2016, 5,987 pedestrians were killed in traffic collisions, a 9% increase from the year before (5,495) and 22% increase from 2014 (4,910).”
Kara Macek, a spokeswoman with the Governors Highway Safety Association noted: “Everyone’s using them, we’ve got them glued to our hands, whether we are on foot or behind the wheel… it’s definitely worth exploring more,” adding that these kind of pedestrian laws are so new that the “jury’s still out as to whether it’s actually going to make a difference.”
Additionally, Jon Hamilton, the city’s director of administrative services, explained, “We had been discussing this issue, just safety in general, as we’re seeing people blindly walking across the street, staring at their phones without paying attention. It’s an issue that has become more and more prevalent based on the increased usage of cell phones, particularly among younger residents.”
A dispute about the need for such a law drummed up on social media, with some believing it’s necessary, with comments such as: “Has it come to this? I have seen people walk into walls and into the street in the path of cars/buses because they are looking at their phone” and “Considering that people who walk while texting are the same ones that step into a crosswalk and cross the street while texting get run over, this law couldn’t come soon enough. But people will still do it, until they get run over…”
Others wondered if this could actually be implemented practically, with one person noting: “Yes, but will they enforce it? You’re not supposed to use your phone and drive but I see folks do that daily and that doesn’t seem to be enforced.”