Distracted Walking & Pedestrian Accidents

You’ve heard of distracted driving and the laws surrounding such behavior, but what about distracted walking? Honolulu recently passed a law to prevent pedestrian accidents by allowing the Honolulu Police Department to cite pedestrians who fail to pay attention while crossing the street.

The law went into effect on October 25, 2017 and makes it illegal to cross a street or highway while viewing an electronic device, such as a cellphone, pager, laptop or video gaming device. However, you can talk on a phone while crossing a street – you just can’t be looking at it. In addition, the law does not apply to sidewalks.

This law, formally called the Electronic Devices Pedestrian Safety Bill and known as Bill 6, was drafted in response to the number of people who were involved in accidents caused by walking and texting. The law was passed by the city council in July with a 7-2 vote. The two opposing votes claimed that the law proposed overregulation. The city council hope the law will make Honolulu’s citizens more aware of their surroundings.

Honolulu First Major City To Pass Distracted Driving Law

Honolulu is the first major city in the U.S. to have such a ban. If a Honolulu police officer catches you looking at an electronic device while crossing a roadway, you could be subject to a fine. The first fine ranges from $15 to $35, while the second one will cost you between $35 and $75 and the third offense will cost you $75 to $99.

Honolulu First Major City To Pass Distracted Driving Law

There is a similar law pending before New Jersey’s State Assembly, which would penalize distracted walkers on New Jersey roadways. Proposed penalties for the New Jersey law include 15 days in jail, a $50 fine, or both.

Increase In Pedestrian Fatalities

Pedestrian fatalities increased 11 percent from 2015 to 2016, with experts attributing part of the increase to the prevalence of smart phones and electronic devices contributing to distracted walking.

The personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Nadrich & Cohen support efforts to raise awareness of the dangers associated with distracted walking and pedestrian accidents. If you need to respond to a text, post on social media or view something online, don’t do it while walking or driving.