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It may soon be illegal to text and walk in New Jersey

If you text and walk in New Jersey, a new bill might slap you with fines and penalties similar to jay walking.

Published onMarch 28, 2016

AP Photo/Ben Margot
AP Photo/Ben Margot

New Jersey assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D) has had it up to here with distracted text-walkers. That’s why she’s putting forth a bill that would make it illegal for cell phone owners to use mobile devices while walking on a public road. The penalties for breaking this proposed law would include up to a $50, 15 days in jail, or a combination of the two.

Lawmakers pushing to make owning an unregistered prepaid phone illegal

This isn’t the first time walking and texting bills have come before state governments, but if it’s passed, it will be the first of its kind to make it into law. Lampitt hopes that the law will encourage people to pay more attention to their surroundings while they’re out and about. She cites a National Safety Council report that showed that incidents involving phone-distracted pedestrians resulted in 11,101 injuries from 2000 to 2011. The study concluded that the majority of these injuries were sustained by females age 40 and younger. 80 percent of these injuries resulted from a fall, but 9 percent were sustained by the distracted person walking into a motionless object.

“Distracted pedestrians, like distracted drivers, present a potential danger to themselves and drivers on the road,” said Lampitt. “An individual crossing the road distracted by their smartphone presents just as much danger to motorists as someone jaywalking and should be held, at minimum, to the same penalty.”

It’s hard to say whether or not such a bill will actually pass, but it does highlight the importance of being aware of your surroundings. This applies not just to walking and texting, but also to other phone functions like taking selfies, which has also resulted in injuries (and even deaths) over the years. In fact, selfies have become such a problem in India that Mumbai recently banned taking of selfies in certain areas. Perhaps banning ‘waking and texting’ in certain areas is next? We’ll see.