City Looks to Fine ‘Distracted Walkers’

Stamford is a city of about 128,000 people on the Connecticut coast on Long Island Sound. It’s the third largest city in Connecticut and the seventh largest in New England.

The city is governed by a mayor and a 40-member Board of Representatives.

Up for consideration by the Board is a pedestrian safety ordinance that would outlaw texting or talking while walking.

The proposed Stamford ordinance is modeled after one passed in Honolulu last month. If police catch a citizen talking or texting while walking, they could write a ticket that carries a $30 fine.

Stamford City representative John Zelinsky is concerned that people are “oblivious to cars” when approaching intersections.

I don’t want any more injuries or deaths as a result of pedestrians getting hit. We’ve had about four or five within the past three or four years.”

Local residents who agree with the proposal are especially concerned about intersections along Broad Street in downtown Stamford.

I see mothers pushing their babies, they’re texting and I’m like how do y’all do all this at this intersection? That scares me,” Dawn Thompson said.”

According to the National Governors’ Highway Safety Association, pedestrian fatalities across the nation jumped 11% last year, resulting in nearly 6,000 deaths.

Despite the inherent dangers of talking and texting while walking, other residents are not in favor of the ordinance.

Troy Latham believes the ordinance is “ridiculous.” He doesn’t like the idea of a fine or being forced to hang up.

If it’s an important text message or call they’re getting, like what if it’s too late, what if their mother’s in the hospital and they need someone to call real quick.”

Zelinsky counters the criticism by noting that the ordinance won’t apply to 911 calls, and that public safety, not revenue from the fines, is the real point.

Unspoken in the discussion is the unnecessary trauma and potential liability for drivers who inadvertently hit pedestrians who enter the roadway while distracted, giving drivers no time to react to avoid them.

It clearly becomes an example of a municipality trying to legislate common sense because of the number of people who become so distracted they lose perspective on the environment around them.

The Stamford initiative may, along with Honolulu’s law, become the vanguard of a national trend.

Source: New York CBS Local



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