Democratic N.J. Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt has introduced a bill that would criminalize the act of texting while walking on a public roadway.
According to CBS New York, if the bill were to pass, violators would face a fine of $50, fifteen days in jail, or both.
“If a person on the road — whether walking or driving — presents a risk to others on the road, there should be a law in place to dissuade and penalize risky behavior,” said Democratic Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt.
“Distracted pedestrians, like distracted drivers, present a potential danger to themselves and drivers on the road. As people’s behaviors change so must our policy,” she added in a statement cited by NJ.com.
Lampitt told the Mahwah Patch that she was inspired to propose the bill after a University of Pennsylvania student that she knew personally was fatally hit by a bus while using his phone as he crossed the street.
“We need to have people be more aware of what’s going on around them,” she said.
New Jersey resident Michael Graichen said in comments to CBS New York, “I think it’s a pretty silly thing. All the problems we have in the world, we have to worry about somebody walking down the street texting. Maybe some of these politicians should worry about real problems we have in New Jersey.”
N.J. crossing guard Ed Rose said that he believes that texting while walking is a problem and told WABC-TV, “People don’t even grab their phone and look at it until they step into the street. And it’s dangerous.”
The bill includes exemptions for people using their phones for emergency reasons and for those using hands-free Bluetooth technology.