New York may ban texting while crossing the road

New York may ban texting while crossing the road

FILE PHOTO: People walk on Wall St. in front of the NYSE in New York
People walking on Wall Street in front of the New York Stock Exchange. (File photo: Reuters/Brendan McDermid)

NEW YORK: It could soon be illegal to text and cross the road in New York.

A bill in the New York State Senate earlier this month proposed to ban pedestrians from using a portable electronic device while crossing a road, according to the document seen by CNA.

The ban would include texting, sending emails, playing games, taking photographs and using the Internet, with exceptions for emergencies.

READ: Commentary: What happened to caution and graciousness on the roads?

Those found guilty can be fined between US$25 and US$50 for their first offence. Repeat offenders within an 18-month period can be fined up to US$250.

"It's hard not to notice the number of people texting while walking, and downright alarming to see people continuing their texting while crossing the street," State Senator John Liu, who introduced the bill in the Senate, told CNN.

"We want New Yorkers to know it's OK to wait the five seconds."

The bill was first brought up in the State Assembly last year by assembly member Felix W Ortiz, but stayed in the lower house's committee, according to NBC News.

Not everyone is on board with the bill.

Chair of the Senate transport committee, Senator Tim Kennedy said the bill was "an overreach of government".

"I don't support the concept in its current form," Kennedy said, according to CNN.

"As someone who has rallied for significant pedestrian safety reforms for years, I prioritise the protection and security of all New Yorkers, but it appears to me as though this is an overreach of government."

READ: US pedestrian road deaths at highest level since 1990

Liu added the mere introduction of the bill has resulted in people talking and thinking about the issue.

"Sometimes even proposing legislation reminds people of common sense things to do and common-sense things not to do," Liu said, reported CNN.

Currently, the bill must be approved by the transportation committees in both the Assembly and the Senate before it can come to a full vote.

In March, it was reported that the number of US pedestrians killed in road accidents in 2018 was the highest since 1990 - an increase blamed in part on the rising use of SUVs and smartphones.

Source: CNA/aa(aj)

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