Honolulu has become the first major American city to outlaw “phone zombies” crossing the road while distracted by a mobile device, it’s reported.
Authorities in the Hawaiian city have enacted a distracted walking law, meaning that even glancing at your phone screen on a crossing could cost you between $15-$35 (£11-£27). Repeat offenders can be fined up to $99 (£76), KHNL Hawaii News Now reports.
“For obvious reasons, your eyes aren’t where they’re supposed to be and it puts everyone at risk. Just looking down at one text, you can have your eyes off the road for five seconds,” James Shyer of the Honolulu Police Department told KHNL.
Pedestrians, will, however, still be able to talk on their mobiles crossing the road, and there’s an exemption for those looking at their device to make an emergency call, US broadcaster NPR says.
The city signed the Distracted Walking bill into law in July, and there’s been a three month education period to encourage citizens to get out of the habit.
At the time, Mayor Kirk Caldwell said that Honolulu held “the unfortunate distinction of being a major city with more pedestrians being hit on crosswalks – particularly seniors – than almost any other city in the country”.
As Honolulu rolls out the new “zombie law”, other North American cities have been watching carefully.
Earlier this year, the Toronto City Council in Canada voted to ask provincial Ontario to amend the existing traffic laws to make distracted walking an offence.
However, the province turned the request down, and the city is instead concentrating on public education, CBC reports.
Toronto traffic police officer Clint Stibbe told CBC on 25 October: “We shouldn’t need a law for common sense.”
Instead of passing laws, pedestrians should take more responsibility for their own safety, he added.
Reporting by Alistair Coleman
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