A US state is planning to fine or imprison pedestrians who walk with their eyes glued to their mobile phones.
In the US state of New Jersey, Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt has introduced a measure aimed at so-called "distracted walking". The measure will ban texting while walking, and bar pedestrians on public roads from using electronic communication devices unless they are hands-free.
The penalty will be up to US$50 (approx 200 Ghana Cedi), 15 days' imprisonment, or both – the same penalty as for jaywalking.
The New York Daily News reported Lampitt as saying “ distracted pedestrians, like distracted drivers, present a potential danger to themselves and drivers on the road. 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.”
Half of the $50 fine would go to safety education about the dangers of walking and texting, she said.
New Jersey is not alone in wanting to crack down on distracted walkers - Hawaii lawmakers have also proposed a bill to fine pedestrians $250 if they’re caught crossing the street while texting and laws in New York, Arkansas, Illinois and Nevada, to curb texting while walking have come up, but failed to pass.
And in June last year, an Oklahoma man walked right into a snake bite while he was staring at his text messages.
Distracted walking made up 78% of pedestrian injuries throughout the United States in 2014, according to records.