Law enforcement officials in Honolulu will start enforcing the city’s “distracted walking” law. Police will start writing tickets for people caught using their cellphones while walking in crosswalks.
Honolulu is the first major U.S. city to pass such a law. Legislators pushed for the law due to the high rate of pedestrians being struck in crosswalks.
“Starting today, texting while walking in a crosswalk can get you a ticket,” said Bill Dorman of Hawaii Public Radio. “In fact, a downward glance at a screen of any kind will cost you – a phone, a tablet, a video game.”
Under the new law, pedestrians may only use cell phones while crossing the street if they are calling 911 to report an emergency.
The minimum fine for violating the law is $15. Repeat offences come with a fine of $75 to $99.
The law, Bill 6, was signed in July by Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
“While we have laws in place for our motorists and our bicyclists, now it’s a shared responsibility for pedestrians as well, to really pay attention as they cross the street,” said Councilman Brandon Elefante in July.
Between 2000 and 2011, 11,101 people were injured in distracted walking accidents.
“It is critical that the highway safety community understand these disturbing statistics and work to aggressively implement effective countermeasures,” said Richard Retting, author of the Governors Highway Safety Association report “Spotlight on Highway Safety. “The information in this report will help states and localities pursue engineering, enforcement and education solutions to reverse this trend.”
Pedestrians can be fined not only for cell phones, but for using laptops, video games or digital cameras while crossing the street. The law does not affect audio equipment, so pedestrians are free to listen to music as they walk through the city.
Over the last 90 days, police have been working hard to remind people of the risks of using cell phones while crossing the street.