Citing a study that suggests that sending and receiving text messages while walking can pose a significant risk of injury, Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt has sponsored a proposed law that would impose a fine and potential jail time for anyone caught texting and walking at the same time. Lampitt said she was motivated in part by the death of a University of Pennsylvania student, who was killed when he was hit by a bus. The student was apparently not paying attention to the road, but was using his cell phone at the time.
Lampitt says that mixing texting with pedestrian travel is akin to jaywalking, and that the purpose of the proposed law is to draw attention to the dangers of texting and walking, not just for the person doing the texting, but for everyone involved. She noted that drivers and others may also be at risk of injury when someone wanders into the roadway.
A study by Dr. Corey Basch, of William Patterson University, seems to support Lampitt’s concerns. Dr. Corey looked at more than 21,000 cases involving pedestrians injured in crosswalks. Almost half of those who crossed on a “Don’t Walk” sign were wearing headphones or using a handheld device. Nearly a third of those injured when crossing on a “Walk” sign were similarly distracted.
Another study, conducted by the Pew Charitable Trust in 2012, concluded that one in ten people injured in a pedestrian accident was using a mobile or handheld device at the time of the accident.
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