Street Texting Could Be Banned In New York
A growing list of cities are introducing hefty fines for pedestrians who text, tweet or talk while crossing the street, New York could be the latest.
It's known as 'the city that never sleeps', with residents constantly scanning their phones to ensure an email isn't left unread and a phone call unanswered.
But thousands of New Yorkers could soon be forced to switch off, at least for a couple of seconds.
A bill has been introduced to the state senate which would make it illegal for pedestrians to use any 'portable electronic device' at crosswalks.
It comes as pedestrian deaths skyrocket to 65 so far this year, up from 50 at the same time in 2018.
“[The bill] does not say you can’t talk on the phone,” John Liu, the New York state senator who introduced the bill said, according to The Guardian.
“We’re talking about handheld devices … you can wait the five seconds to get to the other side.
"This is about common sense."
He claims distracted walking is an increasing public health concern but admits he doesn't have specific statistics to back up that assertion.
If the laws pass, those caught would have to cough up US$25-50 -- up to AU$72 -- for first-time offenders.
If residents are caught again within 18 months, they would be slapped with a $250 fine -- AU$361.
While the proposal is still in committee in both the Senate and Assembly, the debate is getting heated on the streets.
New York City resident Anwen Lewis told 10 daily that she finds herself texting and crossing the street often but admits she gets "judgmental" when she sees others doing the same.
"I've seen people almost get hit by a car and I've almost gotten hit by a car myself," she said.
Jack Vissichio, who also resides in NYC, told 10 daily that it's simply not worth the risk.
"You could die because you couldn't wait two minutes," he said. "I think it should be illegal and penalised with a hefty fine".
Honolulu passed similar laws in 2017, but the fine isn't as steep, with repeat offenders copping a AU$128 bill in the mail.
A woman was fined in the eastern Chinese city of Wenzhou in January for being a "smartphone zombie" and using her phone while crossing the road.
Lawmakers in New Jersey tried to introduce laws in 2016 which would result in distracted walkers being thrown into jail for 15 days.
Here in Australia, there are no specific laws against using a mobile or tablet while crossing the roads, but the Pedestrian Council of Australia is calling for distracted pedestrians nation-wide to be fined $200.
In an effort to keep Aussies safe, pedestrian lights were installed on footpaths at the intersection of Little Collins Street and Swanston Streets in Melbourne, which change colour with crossing signals.
In Sydney in-ground lights were installed at two central city intersections to help those glued to their screens.