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NY Lawmaker Eyes Fine for Digitally Distracted Pedestrians

walking and talkingNew York State Senator Karl Kruger, who represents the rough-and-tumble streets of Brooklyn, wants to make those streets safer by banning pedestrians' use of electronic devices while walking. That's right, New Yorkers, your elected officials are using valuable legislative time attempting to make it illegal to listen to your iPod, talk on your phone and send text messages while crossing the streets of NYC. We wish we were kidding, but we're not. Following in the footsteps of Ken Dunkin of Illinois and Jimmy Jeffress of Arkansas, Kruger is proposing to put an end to distracted walkers through legal means.

The law is being proposed in response to a number of incidents in which pedestrians have been struck by vehicles, fallen down manholes or tripped over mall fountains because they were distracted by their digital devices. While we're sure that cell phones and portable music players are helping to distract us and put us in harm's way, there is nothing about these technologies that actually prevents us from doing basic things our parents taught us as children -- like looking both ways before crossing a street. Besides, while injuries due to texting and walking may be on the rise, distracted pedestrians being injured as the result of their own carelessness does not an epidemic make. And any law banning the behavior would prove difficult, if not impossible, to enforce. Under Kruger's proposed law, each one of these individuals could be stopped and handed a $100 ticket. We're not saying it's an ignoble goal to encourage people to pay attention while walking. But, with a looming budget crisis, and with our public transportation, Medicare and Medicaid systems in disarray, perhaps there are more important things for the state legislature to bicker and deadlock over.

Tags: cellphones, government, ipod, KarlKruger, law, NewYork, politics, texting, TextingAndWalking, top