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Should New York Ban Texting While Walking?

There has been a lot of discussion in the past few years about the dangers of texting while driving, and for good reason. Distracted drivers are much more likely to cause car accidents that kill or injure themselves or another person. By some estimates, sending a text message takes a driver’s eyes off the road for a distance equivalent to an entire football field.

In response, nearly all states, including New York, have banned drivers from sending or reviewing text message while operating a motor vehicle.

But what about distracted pedestrians who wander into roads and crosswalks without looking out for oncoming vehicles? Should cities and states make an effort to regulate texting pedestrians?

One New Jersey town thinks so. Fort Lee recently passed a law allowing police officers to issue tickets to pedestrians who aren’t watching where they are going because their noses are buried in their cellphones. The city says distraction was partly to blame for the 23 pedestrian accidents so far this year, three of which were fatal.

Is New York Next?

So far, Fort Lee’s ban appears to be the first in the country. But some are wondering if a ban on texting while walking might be worthwhile in pedestrian-dense cities like New York.

Distracted walkers put more than just themselves at risk. A driver who swerves or slams on the brakes to avoid hitting a pedestrian may end up getting involved in an accident with several other vehicles instead. In the worst cases, the driver could run up on the sidewalk, injuring a number of pedestrians.

A texting-while-walking ban probably won’t become law in New York City anytime soon. But, we can all do our part by being safe on the sidewalk. If you need to send a text, step off to the side and out of the flow of traffic.


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