New Jersey town imposes fines for texting while walking

By Muriel Kane
Sunday, May 13, 2012 18:53 EDT
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There’s been a epidemic of accidents resulting from texting while walking, and though the resulting stumbles, crashes, and wipe-outs have provided laugh-fodder for viral YouTube videos, one town sees it as a problem worth getting serious about.

The city of Fort Lee, New Jersey has declared that any pedestrian caught texting will be subject to a $85 fine for jaywalking.

“It’s a big distraction,” Fort Lee Police Chief Thomas Ripoli told ABC News. “Pedestrians aren’t watching where they are going and they are not aware.” He said there had been three fatal pedestrian accidents in Fort Lee this year and that he hopes the new policy will promote public safety.

City residents aren’t universally convinced of the merit of the crackdown, with one woman calling it “kind of crazy.” However, a study conducted by two professors at Stony Brook Uniersity in New York found that texters were 60% more likely to wander off course than non-texters.

There’s no word yet on possible fines for walking while reading, walking while playing video games, or walking while taking notes in pen and ink on yellow legal pads. But no doubt those will follow.

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Muriel Kane
Muriel Kane
Muriel Kane is an associate editor at Raw Story. She joined Raw Story as a researcher in 2005, with a particular focus on the Jack Abramoff affair and other Bush administration scandals. She worked extensively with former investigative news managing editor Larisa Alexandrovna, with whom she has co-written numerous articles in addition to her own work. Prior to her association with Raw Story, she spent many years as an independent researcher and writer with a particular focus on history, literature, and contemporary social and political attitudes. Follow her on Twitter at @Muriel_Kane
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