New Jersey bill proposes fine, jail for texting while walking

New Jersey is entertaining a new bill that, if passed, will make it illegal to text while walking in the state. The punishment could range from mild (a $50 fine) to relatively severe (15 days in jail), and aims to prevent injuries and mishaps resulting from inattentive pedestrians who fail to be mindful of their surroundings.

The bill was sponsored by Democratic Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, who says anyone who "presents a risk to others on the road" — including those who text while walking — should be penalized for their behavior. Over the past few years, the number of pedestrians who cause some sort of incident while texting has increased, prompting restrictions in some places and public warning campaigns in others.

Some cities have resorted to putting up signs encouraging pedestrians to put their phones away and pay attention to their surroundings — whether it is other people on the sidewalk or cars on the road they're crossing. Still, the number of people being injured due to nose-in-phone syndrome has increased around the world, and some places are taking more drastic steps to deal with the issue.

As we reported recently, a woman in India tragically died while attempting to take a selfie; others have been injured when they, for example, wander in front of a car at a crosswalk due while playing on their phone. One's risk increases if earbuds are being used.

Response to the bill — which doesn't have a voting date yet — has been mixed. Some residents feel it is an unnecessary proposal that further restricts freedom and penalizes many for the actions of some. Others are in favor of it, explaining their own mishaps with individuals who were texting while walking rather than being mindful of others. Another group, as expected, lies somewhere in the middle, advocating for more awareness about the issue but not being in favor of instituting a bill that could result in jail time.