Would You be in Favor of an ‘iZombie’ Texting-and-Walking Fine?

Posted on: August 29th, 2017 at 5:13 am by

East Houston Street, June 2013

It’s an iZombie epidemic. Walking along the city streets can oftentimes become a contact sport in itself while negotiating the hordes of inattentive text-walkers.

(Street artist Adam Dare broached the topic with his popular “Fuck your phone, keep your head up” stencil.)

Seriously, can a text not wait until the stop light; or just pull to the side?

Well, some cities are now enacting laws to protect citizens from their habitual technology habits. As of this week, Stamford, Connecticut is the second U.S. city considering such “nanny” legislation to extinguish the iZombie. (Honolulu is the other.) If caught, an offender in Stamford could be forced to pay a $30 fine.

Here are some excerpts from the Bloomberg report:

Some skeptics wonder if distracted-walking laws are unfair, or even counterproductive. “Sure, people can walk into a risky situation, but that implies that pedestrians are often at fault,” said Jonathan Matus, chief executive officer of Zendrive, a company that uses smartphone sensors to track driving behavior. “I feel like legislating pedestrian distraction might give aggressive drivers a scapegoat to blame fatalities on the road with, and I’m not excited about that aspect.”

The Honolulu law will go into effect in October. Fines will start at $15 and go as high as $99 for multiple violations. There are a few details to work out before the Stamford Board of Representatives will take its vote, including what burdens enforcing the ordinance would put on the local police force.

Other cities have tried different approaches, with the Los Angeles Police Department launching a “look up, phone down” public information campaign and Augsburg, Germany, embedding traffic signals into sidewalks so people hunched over mobile devices can spot them.

Is it possible that New York City would ever impose such a fine? Seems unlikely as the plastic bag surcharge at supermarkets.

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