Could Distracted Walking Become an Offense?

By Griff O'Hanlon, Virginia Beach Injury Lawyer

There’s no question that distracted driving is one of the biggest menaces on the roads of America in the 21st Century.

But the ubiquitous smartphone hasn’t just proved to be a danger on the roads. Distracted walking on sidewalks has proved to be such a problem that some legislators are looking at bringing in a crackdown.

could distracted walking become illegal?

New Jersey is thought to be the first state to consider legislation against so-called “petextrians,” reports Philly.com.

A bill proposed by Assemblywoman Pamela R. Lampitt (D., Camden) would impose a fine of up to $50 and up to 15 days jail time for pedestrians who are caught using their cellphones without hands-free devices while walking on public sidewalks and along roadways.

We have all read about people who are so engrossed in the small screen, that they hit lamp posts or other obstacles while walking.

But being a distracted walker could cause an accident involving others. A study, from the nonprofit Safe Kids Worldwide, found that 40 percent of teens said they had been hit or nearly hit by a car, bike, or motorcycle while they were walking.

More than 1,000 children between ages 13 and 18 took part in the research. It found that 47 percent of those who said they were hit or almost in an accident, were listening to music, 20 percent of them were talking on the phone, and 18 percent were texting, researchers said.

If you are walking and looking at your phone at the same time, you could veer off the sidewalk or come into contact with a car that’s exiting a driveway without noticing. You could be liable for causing an accident.

More importantly, you could place yourselves or others in danger. While it may not become illegal to look at a cellphone while walking any time soon, it’s a bad habit that you should aim to moderate. Aim to just glance at your cell phone occasionally and slow down or stop if you are walking. Don’t become so obsessed with what’s going on, on the small screen that you fail to concentrate on what’s going on around you.

Distracted driving has become a menace on our roads. Every year, about 3,000 people are killed in crashes involving distracted drivers and almost 400,000 people are injured in the United States. Most states have banned texting at the wheel, but the carnage continues. If you have been injured in a crash involving distraction, call us at (757) 455-0077 or see our page on distracted driving in Virginia.

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