It May Soon Be Illegal For You To Text While Walking In This State

A New Jersey lawmaker introduced a bill that would punish walking while texting with a fine or even jail time.

According to ABC News, the law proposed by Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt earlier this month targets individuals who walk and text or use any electronic communication device that isn't hands-free while crossing a public road.

Punishments for such behavior could include a $50 fine, 15 days in prison or both.

Half of the money from fines would reportedly go toward educational efforts urging people not to walk and text.

Lampitt, a Democrat, told CBS New York legislation is vital in discouraging any sort of "risky behavior" committed by drivers and pedestrians.

She said,

Distracted pedestrians, like distracted drivers, present a potential danger to themselves and drivers on the road. An individual crossing the road distracted by their smartphone presents just as much danger to motorists as someone jaywalking and should be held, at minimum, to the same penalty.

As an employee of the University of Pennsylvania, Lampitt knew a student at the school who was fatally hit by a bus apparently because he was looking at his phone, Huffington Post reports.

Pedestrian deaths in general, however, steadily increased over the past few years.

Such deaths accounted for 15 percent of fatalities in 2014, compared to 11 percent in 2005, and accidents caused by "distracted walking" increased by 35 percent since 2010, CBS reports.

Lampitt also cited a report from the National Safety Council that stated an estimated 11,101 injuries from 2000 to 2011 could be attributed to distracted walking.

The majority of these injuries were caused by talking on the phone, but a study conducted at the University of Alabama at Birmingham found people who text while crossing the street were twice as likely to get hit by cars than people talking on their phones.

A Florida woman was hit by a train because she was looking at her phone while walking, the same behavior that resulted in a Staten Island teen falling down a manhole, according to New York Daily News.

Several states such as Nevada, Illinois and New York unsuccessfully proposed bills that would punish distracted walking.

Lawmakers in Hawaii are currently debating whether to pass a bill that would threaten a $250 fine for anyone who crosses the street while using an electronic device.

Citations: New Jersey Lawmaker Punish People for Texting While Walking (ABC News), Texting while walking in New Jersey could mean jail time 50 fine (New York Daily News), It May Soon Be Illegal To Text And Walk In This State (Huffington Post)