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New York To Ban iPods While Crossing Street? 487

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the he-wants-us-to-think-for-ourselves dept.
An anonymous reader writes to mention Reuters is reporting that New York State Senator Carl Kruger is looking to institute a $100 fine for using electronic gadgets while crossing the street. Citing three pedestrian deaths in his Brooklyn district as the main driving reason he believe Government has an obligation to protect its citizens. "Tech-consuming New Yorkers trudge to work on sidewalks and subways like an army of drones, appearing to talk to themselves on wireless devices or swaying to seemingly silent tunes. 'I'm not trying to intrude on that,' Kruger said. 'But what's happening is when they're tuning into their iPod or Blackberry or cell phone or video game, they're walking into speeding buses and moving automobiles. It's becoming a nationwide problem.'"
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New York To Ban iPods While Crossing Street?

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  • by gbulmash (688770) * <semi_famous&yahoo,com> on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @05:59PM (#17926486) Homepage Journal
    But this is natural selection at work. If you're too stupid to pause your music/chat/game while you're crossing through traffic, you should be removed from the gene pool, and a city bus going 30+ mph is a capable tool for that extraction.

    It's just like the government to try to make laws to keep stupid people from killing themselves. How else are we going to evolve as a species if the government tries to legislate out of existence those activities that get people into the Darwin Awards?

    - Greg
    • by HarvardAce (771954) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @06:05PM (#17926590) Homepage
      Instead of unfairly penalizing those of us who can listen to music while crossing the street (and, heaven forbid, chewing gum at the same time), why don't you just make it illegal to get hit by a vehicle while crossing the street and using an electronic gadget?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by EatingSteak (1053512)
        "why don't you just make it illegal to get hit by a vehicle while crossing the street and using an electronic gadget"

        I agree. FTA: "Government has an obligation to protect its citizenry,". So they're "protecting" them by charging them money. My buddy got in a car accident a while ago (he was driving "Vaay Too Fost"), and after getting injured and more or less totalling his car, he got a speeding ticket to top it all off. How is this protecting him? What's next? What if someone gets in a car crash
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Zixia (534893)
          My buddy got in a car accident a while ago (he was driving "Vaay Too Fost"), and after getting injured and more or less totalling his car, he got a speeding ticket to top it all off. How is this protecting him?

          What should they have done? Told him that they guess he's learnt his lesson, and that he should be more careful in the future? He broke the law, quite obviously according to your own account, and caused an accident as a result. Why shouldn't he get a ticket?

          What if he had killed someone else in the
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Stuart Gibson (544632)
      You need to watch Mike Judge's Idiocracy which shows exactly how we're going to evolve.
    • Why pause? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by SuperKendall (25149) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @06:12PM (#17926726)
      Really, the whole problem is solved by taking a second to glance up and down the street. Heck, it's even solved by not crossing against signals!

      You don't even need to go so far as to pause, you just need to look! It's like passing a law fining you $100 for using an oven while also listing to the iPod, just in case you burn yourself!
      • Re:Why pause? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @06:19PM (#17926872)

        Heck, it's even solved by not crossing against signals!
        You clearly don't live or work in Manhattan :)

        Turning on red while there are pedestrians crossing is the rule, not the exception. Which brings us to the larger point; if they really cared about pedestrian safety, they would start by enforcing existing traffic laws.
        • Re:Why pause? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by WhyDoYouWantToKnow (1039964) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @06:54PM (#17927402)
          Where have you been? Expect existing laws to be enforced, you must be new here. Let me tell you how it works. When the idiots... er, public is in danger, politicians must enact laws to protect people from themselves. When those laws become incapable of protecting people from their stupidity... er, I mean the evil people who don't obey the laws, the politicians must enact new laws to ensure the survival of the lowest common denominator.

          Enforce existing traffic laws, now thats funny.

    • by irtza (893217) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @06:52PM (#17927364) Homepage
      while this may be true, did you ever think of the damage to the car these people cause? One of the advantages of living in the city was that there are no deer. There is also the problem of the driver who does not yield to pedestrians in the cross walk. While the importance of maintaining natural selection is important, so is the well being of every day drivers and their cars. Perhaps banishing a selected portion of the population to areas outside the city where survival conditions can be better tested. If they make it back to the city, they will be allowed to stay short of another infraction.
    • by Greyfox (87712) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @07:06PM (#17927570) Homepage Journal
      This isn't about the government writing laws that prevent you from killing yourself in stupid ways. This is about the government writing laws that prevent you from killing yourself in stupid ways that create lots of paperwork for the government! Do you have any idea how much paperwork has to get filled out if a bus hits a pedestrian? Not to mention the meetings and reviews and... it goes on and on for months!

      But yeah if you want kill yourself in other stupid ways go right ahead. Just don't get public transit involved in the equation.

      • No...ticket money (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Foerstner (931398) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @07:20PM (#17927746)
        No, governments thrive on paperwork and meetings. That's what bureaucrats live for; it's what makes them get up in the morning.

        This is about ticket revenue. See, right now, it's hard to cite pedestrians. New York loves to hand out tickets, but too few New Yorkers drive cars. Brooklyn desperately needs to find a way to give out more citations to pedestrians, and this is the perfect way.
  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu.gmail@com> on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @05:59PM (#17926492) Journal

    The government might want to step back up onto the curb on this one. This is legislation and government oversight gone amok.

    There probably already are ordinances anyway that cover contributory actions by pedestrians in accidents... even if they happen in a crosswalk.

    Regardless, I think the best course would be to absolve motorists of 100% contributory negligence in accidents with pedestrians who are otherwise electronic-gadget engaged while crossing a street or intersection. It is otherwise unnecessary to proscribe pedestrians from using electronic gadgets (and, hey, why just electronic?... what about the dolts who are reading the paper, a magazine, etc. while walking into an intersection?)

    There may even be an argument for letting Darwin and evolution taking its course for those who would be so caught up in their ipod, razr, etc. they blindly step into oncoming traffic. Besides, those are the ones who would continue to use and abuse regardless of the ordinances on the books. Does it really make sense to allocate time and energy of law enforcement officials to monitor people and their gadgets? Not so much.

    • by Otter (3800) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @06:08PM (#17926630) Journal
      Regardless, I think the best course would be to absolve motorists of 100% contributory negligence in accidents with pedestrians who are otherwise electronic-gadget engaged while crossing a street or intersection.

      Why even do that? If the pedestrian has the right of way, he has the right to wear headphones. If he doesn't, than the accident is his fault, headphones or no.

      Anyway, the two groups of people I'd single out as particularly strong Darwin Award candidates are 1) bicyclists who wear headphones and 2) the Bostonians who walk down the street reading books.

      • by Triv (181010) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @06:15PM (#17926794) Journal

        Why even do that? If the pedestrian has the right of way, he has the right to wear headphones.

        Hahaha. Right of way? Right of way in New York is for tourists and pansies. This thing happens in New York where we, as New Yorkers, walk out into the middle of traffic in a tourist-friendly area (like Rockefeller Center) and watch the tourists instinctually follow us because if we're doing it, it must be safe. Hilarity ensues.

        Talking about right of way in New York is a waste of time.

        --Triv

      • by rizzo420 (136707)
        this seems like it will end up being a state law. in most states, the driver has the responsibility to stop for a pedestrian in the road and it is generally the driver's fault if they hit a pedestrian, regardless of whether or not the pedestrian was in a crosswalk or crossing when the sign said "don't walk".

        personally, i think anyone who is walking/driving/biking/running wearing headphones is stupid. most of those people can't hear what's going on around them enough to react when necessary. people walkin
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Sabaki (531686)
          the law needs to say that a driver is not liable if a pedestrian jaywalks

          Being both pedestrian and driver, I've been feeling this way for a long time -- I know if I step out in front of a car when they're going down the street, I'm going to get hit. And yet I'm beset by hordes of jaywalkers (most without even headphones) who will just step blithely in front of me, even when I have the right of way.

          Really, the ideal thing would be some sort of non-lethal punishment. An electric cow-catcher, perhaps?
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by rizzo420 (136707)
            we have a pedestrian problem in providence... while i normally let them pass without issue, we get these punk kids or just bitchy people who will walk out in front of your car (crosswalk or not) and slowly make their way across the street. if they were elderly, i wouldn't have an issue, but they stare at me like i'm some sort of jerk for not wanting to stop for them (when i have a green light and they have a "don't walk" sign).
    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @06:18PM (#17926844) Homepage

      Regardless, I think the best course would be to absolve motorists of 100% contributory negligence in accidents with pedestrians who are otherwise electronic-gadget engaged while crossing a street or intersection.

      Um... no. The bottom line is that motorists should be looking out for pedestrians, even if those pedestrians are doing stupid things. That's the responsibility you take on when you gain the privilege of shooting a 5000 lbs hunk of metal around our cities. Why the hell is it so hard for people to accept that driving a car is an inherently dangerous activity, for both the people inside the car and the people outside of the car, and take necessary precautions?

      It's one thing if someone literally steps in front of your car and you have no possibility of dodging them-- but that's covered under the law anyhow. If someone jumps in front of your car, gets hit, and dies, you won't be charged with anything. But my your suggestion, motorists would be allowed to mow people down in intersections if they have an iPod. That's stupid.

    • by Erioll (229536)

      Regardless, I think the best course would be to absolve motorists of 100% contributory negligence in accidents with pedestrians who are otherwise electronic-gadget engaged while crossing a street or intersection. It is otherwise unnecessary to proscribe pedestrians from using electronic gadgets (and, hey, why just electronic?... what about the dolts who are reading the paper, a magazine, etc. while walking into an intersection?)

      I think your point about other distractions is well-taken, from BOTH sides of the debate. If you're going to do it, why should the "traditional" forms of idiocy while walking be excluded? They're just as bad (or worse). But hey, if you're going to take the smaller distraction just because it's "new" then also take out the old.

      From the "those with the sense to not walk out in traffic" side, walkman-like device (this is hardly limited to iPods, or even modern equivalents, since the ORIGINAL sony walkman w

      • by Babbster (107076) <aaronbabb.gmail@com> on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @06:49PM (#17927318) Homepage

        (this is hardly limited to iPods, or even modern equivalents, since the ORIGINAL sony walkman would qualify here)

        And right there should be the finishing move against such a law. People have been wandering around cities with reduced hearing while wearing headphones for over 20 years. What is it about the iPod that makes these pedestrians and drives dumber than they used to be. The answer, of course, is that it's not about the iPod (or similar). It's about people being dumbasses (pedestrians making stupid moves) and assholes (drivers who refuse to give the right-of-way to pedestrians, which they should even when the pedestrian is making a stupid move).

        This proposal is a publicity grab, pure and simple. It won't make anyone any safer but it could seem to because the deaths in this guy's area were likely a statistical blip. I just wish that this kind of thing was limited to just New York. In my town of Portland, Oregon we had a similar dumb pedestrian problem when people were getting whacked by our light rail trains because the pedestrians were too damned stupid to look both ways before crossing a train track. So, they over-engineered things at these "dangerous" places so that lights would flash, noises would be made and gates would fall if there was a train anywhere nearby. Of course, the problem would have solved itself by people just learning that there were trains running, but still a bunch of money had to be spent to respond to the stupidity of the few.
    • by timeOday (582209) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @06:25PM (#17926938)

      Regardless, I think the best course would be to absolve motorists of 100% contributory negligence in accidents with pedestrians who are otherwise electronic-gadget engaged while crossing a street or intersection.
      Even if said motorist was talking on a cell phone? What gadget to blame? It's so hard to choose.
    • Criticisms of that idea aside, most people find it very emotionally upsetting to accidentally kill other people. It's worthwhile for the law to protect people from that.
  • Blind? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @06:01PM (#17926518)
    Seriously, I cross streets with my music on all the time but I tend to look both ways and watch the crosswalk signals.

    Would this man suggest that the deaf can't cross streets either?
  • Idiot Tax? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by adambha (1048538)

    It seems more like a tax for being stupid and/or irresponsible than a true 'safety' concern for citizens.

  • Responsibility (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pentavirate (867026) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @06:02PM (#17926536) Homepage Journal
    So when do we start requiring people to start taking responsibility for themselves?
    • When we don't live in NY. NYC seems to be going overboard lately. Instead of informing the public there is unhealthy stuff in some of the food they just ban it outright.
  • Sounds like... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArcSecond (534786) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @06:03PM (#17926540)
    Darwinism to me. Why the hell would you outlaw this? If people want to walk around with sunglasses at night, you gonna ticket them, too?

    I thought Americans were rabid about maintaining their freedoms. Recently, it looks like they have just rolled over and played dead when they are taken away. Maybe they should promote this law as a way to improve national security, then everyone would probably eat it up with a spoon.
  • While I do agree that the government had a duty to protect citizens from each other (within a reasonable limit), I am strongly against the government protecting people from themselves. If you can't handle walking, listening to music, and looking both ways before you cross, then it's probably a good thing you're leaving my gene pool. This level of protectionism only encourages incompetence because people will eventually get the mindset of "Well, the government hasn't banned it, so it can't be harmful".

    the

  • 'But what's happening is when they're talking to their spouses, children or friends, they're walking into speeding buses and moving automobiles. It's becoming a nationwide problem.'
  • by Cr0w T. Trollbot (848674) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @06:05PM (#17926582)
    I bet if you add up the totals, I bet as many or more people were killed in the middle of eating or drinking something while they walked across the street, but I don't see calls to ban that.

    Ban smoking, ban drugs, ban "hateful" speech, ban trans-fats, ban iPods, ban anything the Nannystate says might let you hurt yourself. How long will it take people to realize that government exists to protect us from other people, not from ourselves?

    Crow T. Trollbot

    • by geekoid (135745)
      Smoking hurts people who don't wish to partake. So in that instance banning smoking is protecting me from other people.
      • by Pojut (1027544)
        I can assure you that if you live within 15 miles of ANYWHERE in this country that has a population of more than 200 (and is not Lancaster, PA) you are inhaling much worse shit than what is coming off the lit-end of a cig.
        • by rossz (67331)
          That's basically what the United Nation's report said. It didn't fit the popular belief that second hand smoke is DEADLY EVIL, so it didn't get much news. If I remember correctly, the conclusion of the UN report said something like "the health risk from second hand smoke was inconsequential when compared to environmental factors", meaning vehicle and industrial pollution, farming pollution (pesticides, etc), lack of food, lack of medicine, getting shot in a civil war, ethnic cleansing, etc, etc.
    • by kebes (861706)
      government exists to protect us from other people, not from ourselves?

      I agree with you... but just to play devil's advocate for a second here:
      When someone creates a traffic accident, it endangers them, but it also endangers everyone else in the vicinity. A car swerving to miss an inattentive pedestrian may hit another (more attentive) pedestrian, or another car, or whatever. A traffic accident can quickly escalate and involve many people/cars. When people drive unsafely, for instance, they are not just
  • Odd (Score:5, Informative)

    by LaughingCoder (914424) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @06:05PM (#17926594)
    When I am out walking wearing headphones I find myself looking back-and-forth-and-back-and-forth multiple times when crossing a street because I am accustomed to relying upon hearing to augment sight. I almost feel blind when I can't also hear the traffic. Something tells me this law won't help. As a wise man once said, "you can't make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious".
  • by Sierran (155611) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @06:09PM (#17926636)
    This seems to assume that the iPods were the proximate cause of these pedestrians' deaths. What were the full circumstances? i.e. were they jaywalking? Were the vehicles moving against traffic regulations? While I may not like current NYC traffic regs, they do presently exist for that purpose. If the pedestrians were in a crosswalk, moving with the light, then *technically* it's not their responsibility to avoid traffic - it's the vehicle's responsibility to avoid them, according to NY State law. If they *weren't* in a crosswalk and moving with a light, they were *already* in violation of traffic regulations for which they can be punished, iPod/gadget or no. Why another whole layer of government legislation to interfere with my behavior which, if I'm obeying the law, does nothing but raise my personal risk vs. others (drivers) who aren't?
  • for those idiots walking along, staring at their cell phones and not looking where they're going? Often also seen dragging their briefcase on wheels behind them, so the rest of us can trip over it. And then they stop dead in front of a revolving door to fold it up, or at the top of a flight of stairs to unfold it. ARRRRGHGG!!
  • I think people who are going to go and play in traffic should be required to put their nifty things into a big box beforehand so that those of us who don't walk into moving traffic for fun can still find use in their stuff.
    It's not the iPod's fault its owner is a moron.
  • Relevance? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by p0tat03 (985078) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @06:12PM (#17926708)

    Let me get this straight:

    If I have the right of way (i.e., I am at a cross walk, and the WALK sign is on), and I get hit by a car while crossing the street, this is clearly not my fault, and any amount of cell phone talking or iPod listening is entirely irrelevant.

    If I do not have the right of way (e.g., jay-walking), and I get hit by a car, it is my own damned fault, but the problem is the fact that I jay-walked, not the fact that I was listening to a bloody iPod!

    Jay-walking is already illegal, there's no reason for this law.

    • I am at a cross walk, and the WALK sign is on

      Say, those WALK signs are electronic gadgets that the pedestrians are using....

    • Re:Relevance? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by 26199 (577806) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @06:48PM (#17927296) Homepage

      My thoughts exactly. I spend 1h every day walking to/from work and I see plenty of people taking stupid risks, no iPod needed. (Including a guy who walked right into the path of a motorbike -- he was hit but it was a glancing blow and he wasn't hurt).

      Here in the UK society doesn't seem to care about pedestrians getting themselves into trouble -- I'm not sure if jaywalking is even illegal.

      Anyway it's something I get annoyed about. Reason being, I was once a stupid pedestrian, and did get hit by a car. It was entirely my fault -- I didn't understand the road layout and walked out into a lane I thought was clear without looking. Concussion, a week in hospital -- the experience has nothing much to recommend it. Now I realise that most people have no conception of how much it's going to hurt when one of those things hits you. I certainly didn't. And when I see people taking stupid risks on the road I think: if they knew what they were risking, they wouldn't be doing that.

      Ah well. I would love to see a society where the accepted thing to do is to cross sensibly. That said, I'd be even happier to see a society where cars and pedestrians are kept completely separate. Since neither of these is going to happen any time soon, I suppose I'll just carry on glaring at people who take stupid risks and hoping I don't see any serious accidents...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ed Thomson (704721)
      If I have the right of way (i.e., I am at a cross walk, and the WALK sign is on), and I get hit by a car while crossing the street, this is clearly not my fault, and any amount of cell phone talking or iPod listening is entirely irrelevant.

      It may not be your fault, but you still have a chance of avoiding an accident by being alert. Remember if you get hit by a car and die, even if it is not your fault you are still dead.
  • You can't legislate stupidity!
  • Just give them a Darwin Award (posthumously, of course; they all are) and move on. I figure they are doing the rest of the species a favor by taking themselves out of the gene pool. Hopefully they've been too distracted to reproduce already.
  • Is that New York is a city of idiots. Or at least, that's what they're politicians have us believe. I strongly suspect that even the most illiterate New Yorker is capable of crossing the street and talking on a cell phone. And you would think that of all people, politicians would be doing this the most often.

    I suppose the real problem is that we live in a society where idiot laws like this can get passed, and the general public thinks "It's for the safety of the people".

    It's about revenue, folks.

    • by gillbates (106458)
      Heck, I can't even get their and they're right, and I can cross the street while talking on a cellphone.
      • by profplump (309017)
        On the phone their "they're"s and "theirs" are all the same, so it's not a problem. It's just on /. that they can't cross the street safely.
  • Only three people have been killed because they didn't look to see if there was oncoming traffic? Man, we ought to make iPods compulsory to improve the gene pool.

    btw - joke

  • Shure offer headphones [earphonesolutions.com] with a button that shuts off the music and feeds in sound from outside. I use Grado [gradolabs.com] headphones which are open-backed; they don't attenuate outside sounds at all, I can hear the outside world through them perfectly clearly and hold a conversation normally, just with music superimposed onto my hearing. Why should sensible, responsible users of headphones be penalised because some idiots listening to earbuds at deafening levels [startribune.com] walk into oncoming traffic? Hell, why are the authoritarian
  • I tried wearing an MP3 while walking to work, but it was too distracting.

    I live in a rural town and found the headphones way too distracting, as I could not concentrate on the what was going on around me. If I was running in the park or something that's a different matter, as I don't expect a fright or logging truck to not notice me and run me over. But on the partly sidewalkless streets here, you got to be aware of whats going on.

    Though I think drivers are given way to much percived right of way than ped
  • by wall0159 (881759) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @06:29PM (#17926974)

    If one pedestrian in fifty had a couple of kilos of nitro-glicerine (sp?) in their backpack, no pedestrian would ever be hit again.

    "OMG it's a pedestrian - look out!!!" ;-)

  • A pedestrian wearing an ipod doesn't put anybody else in danger. A person driving a car, ipod or not, puts a lot of other people in danger.

    Why punish the victims of other people's dangerous behaviour?

  • Out here in N. Calif, I see droves of people everyday listening to their iPODs while driving or riding their bike...

    God loves the marines, b/c we keep heaven.... FULL.
  • I guess next they will start banning deaf or blind pedestrians?

    Isn't it already against the law to cross the street at places other than crosswalks? And if you get hit crossing the street when you have the right of way, aren't drivers at fault?

    This is a pretty fucking stupid idea, but I wouldn't expect much more from the folks who elected Bloomberg and Guliani. Just because a city has some semblance of culture doesn't mean that the majority of its inhabitants are not fucking morons.
  • Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) have released a joint press release condemning Senator Krugar for "not going far enough in protecting our citizens from themselves". The pair promised to introduce legislation that would outlaw the practice of day-dreaming while crossing busy intersections.

    "Obviously the dangers of random and creative thought are well-documented. Take the videogame industry for example. While we are working towards a comprehensive solution to this problem, this new mea
  • Are you deaf!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by skelly33 (891182) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @06:39PM (#17927146)
    Is it even worth pointing out that some people are born with hearing impairment? Having the use of your ears does not make or break your ability to safely navigate through city streets. Having a fully operational brain is what accomplishes that.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by acroyear (5882)
      Well, one answer is that deaf people have trained themselves to be able to walk through the streets without getting hit.

      The "newvo-deaf" ipodders haven't; they're supposedly not used to the idea of not hearing the outside world.
  • the danger behind a law like this is that insurance companies could latch onto it as a way out of having to pay a claim.

    all that has to happen is for an insurance company to find out you were carrying an ipod, phone, or other music player when you were hit by a car and they can deny your claim. never mind that you weren't listening to it or that the battery was dead at the time.
  • Walking and chewing gum to be banned within intersections as well a simultaneous patting and rubbing of the head and tummy. Violators will have to sit in the corner for an hour.
  • by Afecks (899057) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @07:28PM (#17927820)
    I'm sure Apple will thank you. It's also annoying to the rest of us that know the difference.

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