In the New Jersey town of Fort Lee, there’s no law against walking down the street. Texting is fine, too. But residents caught walking and texting simultaneously could face a $85 ticket, ABC News reports.
Enforcing the new grounds for a ticket is an attempt to curb a “big distraction,” said Thomas Ripoli, chief of the Fort Lee Police Department. “Pedestrians aren’t watching where they are going and they are not aware.”
Officers began targeting “dangerous walkers” after a brief warning period ending in March. More than 117 texting pedestrians have been ticketed, the New Jersey Record reports.
The drastic measure may be in order. Fort Lee, a town of 35,000 residents, experienced three pedestrian fatalities and 74 pedestrian crashes last year alone.
Drivers, including Eugene Giufurta, have welcomed the crackdown. “It’s about time pedestrians started getting ticketed,” he was quoted in the Record as saying. “They’re the worst violators.”
Researchers have found that most people misjudge how well they can walk in a straight line while texting. According to a study from Stony Brook University in New York, texters are 60 per cent more likely to veer off course than non-texters.
“Texting disrupts your ability much more than does talking,” Eric Lamberg, co-author of the study, told Long Island Business News.
Sending “LOLz” is clearly an all-consuming activity. Case in point: Cathy Cruz Marrero of Reading, Pa., was so intent on texting a message that she walked into a mall fountain, leaving her unharmed but soaking wet.
No wonder the cops of Fort Lee are taking a zero-tolerance approach. Even kids are being ticketed.
“We just hope their parents would make them pay the fine,” Chief Ripoli said. “After all, this is for the safety of the public.”
Have you noticed that walkers are dangerously distracted while texting? Should they be fined?