Don’t Text and Walk!

Texting while walking may soon be illegal in New Jersey. The practical hazards of mindlessly using your phone while walking down the street may seem fairly obvious, yet we all do it. Each year, more and more people suffer injuries from texting, talking, or listening to music while walking. While we got a good laugh at the viral videos of the man who walked into a wall while texting and the woman who fell into a fountain while texting, distracted walking is a very real and serious problem.

Since the potential of getting hit by a car doesn’t stop people from texting while walking, perhaps a jail sentence will. That is what Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt is mulling with the introduction of a new bill that will penalize texting while walking. The new legislation states that pedestrians must join drivers in going hands free while crossing the road to avoid distractions.

Under the bill, pedestrians caught texting while in a crosswalk will face the same penalty as jaywalking, which includes a fine of $50 or 15 days in jail. Half of the fine would be used for safety education about the dangers of walking and texting.

The number of collisions between pedestrians and cars across the country continue to rise. Accidents caused by distracted walkers has risen 35 percent since 2010. According to 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 a minimum, to the same penalty.” A pedestrian distracted by texting, talking, or listening to music on their device and unaware of oncoming traffic creates a potentially deadly situation. The pedestrian is not aware of the unsuspecting driver and doesn’t jump out of the way, most likely causing the driver to swerve out of the way or brake suddenly.

Scientists refer to the phenomenon as “inattentive blindness.” Research has shows that the human brain has evolved with the ability to only adequately focus attention on one task at a time. So, when you’re texting while walking across the street, you cannot give your attention to both oncoming traffic and your phone.

So next time you take out your phone to text while walking down the block, remember that you can get a ticket for simply texting your friend to let them know you are on your way. While $50 may not burn a hole in your pocket, crossing the street without distractions not only protects yourself, but also other pedestrians and drivers.

The many laws in our great state of New Jersey are always changing and updating, to ensure you’re getting the most up to date information, it’s important to consult with an experienced attorney. If you need assistance for a legal matter, we at Zapicchi & Liller are here to help. For a free consultation, give us a call today at 609-291-9500 to learn more.