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Poll: Should Distracted Walkers Be Fined?

Texting and talking while walking is becoming increasingly common as smart phones never leave our hands.

We’ve all seen the man or woman texting on a cell phone, then suddenly trip over an unexpected curb. Or maybe we were that man or woman.

Reported injuries from distracted walking that result in hospital emergency room visits have more than quadrupled in the past seven years, reported the Associated Press.

City and transportation officials across the country have labeled distracted walking as a serious public safety issue that needs addressing.

Salt Lake City pedestrians face a $50 fine for using cellphones, headphones and other distracting electronic devices while crossing the light rail tracks, the Utah Transit Authority decided.

However, cities in Arkansas, Illinois and New York have unsuccessfully tried to pass distracted walking bills.

When laws don’t work, cities get creative. As an April Fool's Day joke, Philadelphia officials taped off an "e-lane" for distracted pedestrians on a sidewalk outside downtown office buildings. But people were so serious about their electronics that they didn’t realize it was a joke.

What are your thoughts on distracted walking? Are bills and fines limiting our freedom to communicate and walk as we please? Or is this a serious safety issue that we need to address?

Alan Dale Brown August 06, 2012 at 06:36 PM
People will do stupid and absent-minded things. Is a law going to help the matter? NO! You can't regulate everything; at some point, people will start disrespecting all of the law if part of the law is used to regulate the ridiculous. Let lawmakers focus on streamlining the code so it effectively deals with the problems that it is well suited to deal with. If someone walks into a glass door absentmindly, I think the embarrassment is sufficient. No need to give them a ticket.
Michele August 06, 2012 at 06:40 PM
People don't have common courtesy for others any more, people don't have manners they are just RUDE!! All they think about is themselves. I live in Millbrae and the people here are so rude it's sad.
Alan Dale Brown August 06, 2012 at 06:48 PM
I would consider the opposite; if someone was inattentive while walking and got hurt, it should limit the liability of others.
G.DON. August 06, 2012 at 06:55 PM
my only point is that we as the people worry about things that are a personal choice instead of things that should be dealt with as a community and with the problems we have today, why waste our time with things like texting wile walking,
Troy August 06, 2012 at 07:00 PM
What about the guy that's distracted by the sandwich he's eating on his way back to work or the mother that is distracted by her children that she's walking to school?
Nikky August 06, 2012 at 07:48 PM
I see people walking and texting all the time not paying attention when they walk by a driveway or though a parking lot... If they get hit, the driver is the one at fault, but sometimes these people come out of nowhere. I am a very careful driver and just the other night I almost hit a kid who was dressed all in black who walked out from inbetween two cars who was texting on his cell phone. If I would have hit him, I would have been the one to blame! I don't think that this is something that we would be able to fine folks for, but I really do wish people would be more aware of their surroundings.
Reality Check August 06, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Wrong Nikky, sober drivers who hit peds and who stay on the scene rarely get charged with anything unless there's obvious and/or egregious negligence on their part. In the example you gave with the kid all in black walking out into your path from between two cars, there is no basis for you to state you'd be to blame. Or did you just make the incident up to support your argument for another needless law to crack down on people who don't pay attention while walking? One wonders, will fumbling with a button your shirt count? How about being engrossed in conversation (or even an argument) with your walking partner? What about walking with poor/impaired hearing (headphones) or eyesight? Should we charge people wearing dangerously unstable high heels? (They might trip and fall while crossing and present a "hazard" -- or at least an obstacle! -- to oncoming motorrists! And they can't as easily jump out of the way either -- how irresponsible can you get!?) I've seen girls (and even boys) wear their hair such that it partly blocks their vision (peripheral vision -- gone!). Or what about a hoodie or fashionable sunglasses that block peripheral vision? What about people who just don't look both ways before crossing? Oh dear, oh my!
DanC August 06, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Should Distracted Walkers Be Fined? I think not. Walking into a light pole should be quite enough punishment.
GHE August 06, 2012 at 10:37 PM
Yes! Seems to me the people in Millbrae hit a crosswalk and continue like its part of the sidewalk. Whatever happened to STOP and LOOK if a car is coming!!! Yes cite people who can't seem to cross a street
skip August 07, 2012 at 12:26 AM
one more analogy.. to regulate/legislate distracted walking is like making walking around with untied shoelaces illegal... just can't make a law to make people have more common sense. pedestrians definitely do not respect the "street" around here, and are absent minded. Boston drivers are notoriously bad, but the pedestrian death rate in Boston is much less than in SF. that is because pedestrians in Boston are aware when walking. if you aren't you basically pay with your life, so they pay attention. here, pedestrians seem to think they are invincible just because they have the right of way. they don't take into consideration when 1ton steel hits a flesh at any speed, the flesh loses big time.
Sue McNaughton August 07, 2012 at 12:34 AM
While distracted walkers are an real issue if we want to keep our freedoms, we CANNOT pass a new law/set a fine for every stupid thing that people can do. We already have WAY too many laws and regulations. The hand of government has gotten much too large. The more regulations like this that are put into place, the easier it becomes to add more and more and soon we are living in a country where everything we do is controlled by the government. Is that really what you want???
John Blanchard August 07, 2012 at 01:19 AM
leave people the heck alone! what next - cite them for carrying more shopping bags than they can carry. chillout on what other people are doing and work on yourself. ridiculous discussion.
Tess August 07, 2012 at 02:59 AM
I say let people walk into walls, trip and fall while text-walking - their choice - just limit what they can sue for. If they walk into your moving car while texting, limit the liability of the driver to ZERO. A "responsible-for-your-texting-action" exclusion clause would work better than a citation for texting - in my opinion. so when the distracted texting individual goes to sue for their lack of common sense - SURPRISE, the texting clause excludes them from sueing!! They would need to take care of their own medical bills.
Tina Palmer August 07, 2012 at 07:08 AM
I see people with their nose stuffed into their phone all the time. I will not bring my cell phone when I walk my dogs because I want to bond with my pets, be aware of what is around us ( raccoons, cars) and I don't want to be bothered while enjoying my walk. If I have to use my phone I stop, get out the way of others then use it. I have always said " A little courtesy goes a long way". People are turning in and not interacting with the people right in front of them, it's all electronic now. Does anyone make a phone call to talk to someone or is it all texting? How sterile. There was a funny story of a woman who fell in a fountain because she was so involved with her phone she didn't see where she was going. THEN she got mad because people were laughing at her. BOO HOO.
Michele McGee August 07, 2012 at 05:04 PM
what's next, a fine for eating an apple while walking?
Miller Girl August 07, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Hmmm. Do you get that involved with your apple? Perfect example of missing the point.
Michele McGee August 07, 2012 at 05:41 PM
It's not about the phone or the apple, it's about the frequent call for regulation of our daily lives. How would you feel about a ban on snarky comments? Didn't think so.
Troy August 07, 2012 at 06:32 PM
What about the emergency call you receive from the school that your child is hurt and needs to go to the hospital?
Miller Girl August 07, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Actually it is about common sense and courtesy. Is the shoe pinching, dear?
Alan Dale Brown August 08, 2012 at 12:05 AM
Miller Girl is having a problem with the concept that just because something is bad, it doesn't always make sense to outlaw it. No one is advocating walking into traffic while being distracted.
Miller Girl August 08, 2012 at 12:22 AM
Alan, my opinion is not a problem for me and your last sentence isn't relevent. I am speaking of the dopes that do walk right out into traffic without bothering to look any direction -- just in their own worlds, completely unconscious. And it happens. If you are the one who happens to hit them for example, how would you feel about that? In reality, a law shouldn't be a problem for those who use their heads and eyes when sharing the sidewalks, crosswalks and streets. A law such as this isn't necessarily there to punish people; it is there to remind people not to do what they already should KNOW not to do. Again, if it did not affect others, it wouldn't be an issue. But it does.
G.DON. August 08, 2012 at 04:35 PM
It seems to me that the people you say are distracted by texting would be distracted by anything and they would walk in the street at their own will while on the phone or not, because that is how they are. Here in California the pedestrian has the right of way so DRIVERS be ware, a child could run in the street at anytime chasing a ball or whatever, so as drivers you know you need to keep aware of everything happening on the street. Drivers have it so good over having to walk your way around so have a little compassion and relax.
alan kaiser August 08, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Please! Agree with you.... why do people seem to think that everything can be legislated? That's the road to dictatorship
Merrily August 13, 2012 at 05:06 AM
RUN THEM OVER!!!! If you are dumb enough to walk across the street without looking then it is YOUR problem!
Kali August 13, 2012 at 07:05 AM
Got that right. I almost wrote the same thing. What I do is honk really loud. It scares the crap out of them.
Bryon Wright August 16, 2012 at 05:58 PM
sense is neither common, or makes sense since societal/cultural rules for different societies can turn what we see as 'distracted' into simply paying attention to other things for other people. I am in no way supportive of electronic disassociation with reality as I no longer own a cellphone and no one but those who care actually make the effort to call and leave a message now.
Bryon Wright August 16, 2012 at 06:01 PM
When I am walking on campus and see a distracted walker, I stop and let them walk into me. I will sometimes off the occasional witty quip but typically not. While driving and I see someone texting, I honk my horn. if they drop their phone it's their problem but at least I saved them from getting hit.
Bryon Wright August 16, 2012 at 06:06 PM
the world would be a better place without warning labels and nanny laws and it would certainly turn the political landscape around if those stupid enough to actually do the things these means are meant to protect against, then we'd have a remaining population of people who were self-aware, can multi-task and intelligent enough to see that doing something will result in injury or death.
Bryon Wright August 16, 2012 at 06:10 PM
lift some weights, make your body like iron and if someone is walking towards you, take a defensive stance and wait for them to either walk into you or, get mad and be forced to walk around since your presence so clearly isn't allowed. I do this every moment I get and people either get injured or get mad but either way, it is entirely their fault. I then pretend to be deaf and smile when they get huffy, it works well.
Alan Dale Brown August 16, 2012 at 06:15 PM
What's worse - someone who's a bit too self-absorbed in what they're doing, and risks causing an accident? Or someone who injects themselves into the situation, and makes sure an incident happens! Ha-ha-ha - what a perfect time to make a witty comment! I'm sure everyone is impressed with this cleverness!

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