Harvey Munford, a Nevada state assemblyman, has proposed a bill that would make texting while walking an offense punishable by an expensive ticket.
Assembly Bill 123, his proposed legislation, would follow the example set by Fort Lee, N.J., where the police are able to crack down on oblivious pedestrians. Munford, D-Las Vegas, hopes his measure will encompass not just busy city streets but also residential neighborhoods and state roads.
“I was just amazed by what I saw,” Munford told the Los Angeles Times of what he has noticed while sitting behind the wheel of his car. “So many people are almost oblivious. They are texting and texting, totally unaware as they cross even six-lane highways.”
Under the terms of the bill, Nevada police officers would give only a warning for a first violation, while they would give a $250 ticket for a third violation.
Munford, who called the bill an example of “common sense,” cited a research study that found only one in four people -- based on the observation of 1,000 who crossed 20 busy intersections -- paid attention to all safety rules. Texting was the most hazardous activity, the lawmaker told the Nevada Assembly.
Politicians in Seattle are also reportedly considering a ban on texting while walking.
“When kids get out of school, where they’ve been banned from using their phones all day, they go immediately to their texts,” Munford said. “I’ve seen several close calls myself where people have almost been hit. Kids are so addicted to those things. It’s almost become a plague.”
Press accounts initially mislabeled reported violations in Fort Lee the results of a new law, but Fort Lee Police Chief Thomas Ripoli said that he’s only directed officers to give tickets to jaywalkers who are on their cellphones.
“People are texting on their cell phones and not paying attention,” Ripoli told Laptop magazine.
While science has struggled to keep up with the ever-changing world of technology, a recent study found that texting while walking is more dangerous than it may appear. David Schwebel, a professor of psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham who studies the issue, told Laptop human brains can easily be overwhelmed when trying to complete both tasks.
“Walking actually involves a fair amount of complexity,” Schwebel said. “Our brain has to work hard to make sure we walk safely, especially near traffic. Our brain also has to work hard to text-message.