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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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  • Blind? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @05:01PM (#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) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @05:01PM (#17926528) Homepage

    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 @05:02PM (#17926536) Homepage Journal
    So when do we start requiring people to start taking responsibility for themselves?
  • Sounds like... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArcSecond (534786) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @05:03PM (#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.
  • by Cr0w T. Trollbot (848674) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @05:05PM (#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 Sierran (155611) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @05:09PM (#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?
  • by Stuart Gibson (544632) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @05:11PM (#17926700) Homepage
    You need to watch Mike Judge's Idiocracy which shows exactly how we're going to evolve.
  • Relevance? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by p0tat03 (985078) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @05:12PM (#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.

  • Re:Logical fallacy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @05:12PM (#17926724) Homepage
    "Because guns kill!"

    No, a gun is a piece of metal. That is it. It is absolutely nothing more. I could kill you with my finger if I wanted to, I sure as hell don't need a gun to do that.

    All I say to those that are for gun control to look at Washington, DC...my hometown. It is illegal to own a handgun and we are the gun-murder capital of the USA.

    Fuck I hate ignorance.
  • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @05:18PM (#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 FatSean (18753) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @05:18PM (#17926850) Homepage Journal
    Please, the conservative authorotarian politicians took away plenty of freedoms in the name of 'Protection from Terrorism' and 'Protection from Drug Users'.

    They all do it, because there are plenty of Americans on both sides of the coin who crave to be told what to do.
  • Re:Why pause? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @05:19PM (#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:Sounds like... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @05:23PM (#17926916) Homepage
    If people want to walk around with sunglasses at night, you gonna ticket them, too?

    Yes, people who have Corey Hart songs on their iPod should get two tickets.
  • by timeOday (582209) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @05:25PM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @05:29PM (#17926986)
    ...to ban people from listening to their ipods while driving their cars? if two people are listening to music and they walk into each other, no big deal- but if two people are listening to music and they *drive* into each other (or another person), well....that's how accidents happen.
  • by cayenne8 (626475) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @05:32PM (#17927028) Homepage Journal
    Geez...what's the govt. gonna do next to 'protect' us from ourselves?? Make you wear a seatbelt? Make you wear a helment on a motorcycle? Make you.....oh wait.

    Lord...for a grown adult, for goodness sakes, leave us alone. If someone wants to take themselves out by whatever means, it is our body and our right...

    And please at least on the motorcycle helmet law and the usual insurance argument. About 3 years ago...our helmet law was re-instated by our incompentent gov. (Blanc-stare), so now if you're on a bike you gotta wear a helmet now. That should save all the public from paying higher insurance rates because of increased safety and survivability right?

    Funny...I've yet to see my insurance rates go down......

  • Are you deaf!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by skelly33 (891182) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @05:39PM (#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.
  • by toadlife (301863) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @05:45PM (#17927246) Journal

    "That should save all the public from paying higher insurance rates because of increased safety and survivability right?...I've yet to see my insurance rates go down......"
    A person who survives a motorcycle crash because they wore a helmet, but sustains multiple fractures and internal bleeding will more costly to treat than a corpse.
  • Re:Relevance? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 26199 (577806) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @05:48PM (#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...

  • (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 irtza (893217) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @05:52PM (#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.
  • Re:Why pause? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WhyDoYouWantToKnow (1039964) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @05:54PM (#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.

  • Re:Relevance? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ed Thomson (704721) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @05:57PM (#17927442)
    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.
  • by corbettw (214229) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `wttebroc'> on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @06:02PM (#17927516) Journal
    The bottom line is that motorists should be looking out for pedestrians

    Bzzt, wrong. We all share the roads, and we have to obey the traffic laws. But if a pedestrian doesn't obey them and steps out into traffic, he dies. If a motorist doesn't obey them and hits a pedestrian, he'll get stuck either having to fill out insurance paperwork or going to jail for a while.

    So who should be looking out for whom?
  • No...ticket money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Foerstner (931398) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @06:20PM (#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.
  • Re:Are you deaf!? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by acroyear (5882) <jws-slashdot@javaclientcookbook.net> on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @06:31PM (#17927846) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • by XantheKnight (986840) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @06:48PM (#17928072)
    It's arguments like this that make fundamentalist Christians think the theory of evolution is a satanic plot to corrupt our children and turn them into terrorists.

    And even if that's not really why, this kind of thinking certainly doesn't help the theory's public image.

    Yes, but it's arguments like yours that make evolutionists think fundamentalist Christianity is a mass ineptitude movement designed to corrupt logical thought processes and turn people into non-thinking idiots. And even if that's not true, that kind of thikning certainly doesn't help the Christians' public image.

  • Re:Relevance? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @07:04PM (#17928274)
    "Besides, if his brakes were bad, and I was deaf, or a small child alone, he would have hit me anyway."
    Yes, but if *you* were alert and attentive, you'd still be alive like me.

    Who cares that you were right? You're dead. The guy in the car is still alive.

    The lesson is: Don't trust other people to do the right thing.
  • by Viper Daimao (911947) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @07:06PM (#17928292) Journal
    Also lead to an increase in pedestrian fatalities from being hit by cars, because with people less likely to die in a car crash, they started driving more recklessly, thus more pedestrians getting hit by cars.

    Stuff like this is called the law of unintended consequences. You can see it in the price of corn tortillas tripling because of corn ethanol subsidies also.
  • Re:Dodgem (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fishbowl (7759) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @07:34PM (#17928550)
    >Nobody here has ever been to Casablanca?
    >
    >There, the rule is... pedestrians run out into traffic and hope that cars stop (or at least
    >slow) for them.

    You misspelled "California."
  • by wrf3 (314267) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @07:50PM (#17928712) Homepage
    As long as the community has to pay for the consequences of your actions, the community is going to (attempt to) regulate your behavior. What Caesar pays for, Caesar controls. The more socialized this country becomes, the less free it will be.
  • by Yartrebo (690383) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @08:07PM (#17928870)
    The problem is that we have an awfully car-friendly city government. Why can cars have radios, speedometers, and other distracting electronic gadgets and people walking (which takes less brain power) are not allowed to do so? Don't forget that pedestrians have far, far less capacity to cause harm than a car. It's simple physics: 50kg human * 1.5 m/s = 56 J of energy. 1000kg car * 20 m/s = 200,000 J of energy. Taking that into account, pedestrians should be the ones treated leniently. After all, when is that last time that a pedestrian killed someone by walking into them?
  • by Manchot (847225) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @09:36PM (#17929590)
    I used to think the same way as you do until my mother pointed something out to me. It's not just the community who pays for idiots who don't wear seat belts: it's also unfortunate individuals. Suppose that I am at fault an accident with another car in which the driver wasn't using a seat belt. If he had been wearing one, he would've suffered no injury, but because he didn't, he ended up with thousands of dollars in medical costs. My insurance (and me, by proxy) is now going to pay for his medical costs because he couldn't take two seconds to buckle up? I may have made a mistake while driving, but because he took that mistake and amplified it, should I pay the price?

    The way I see it, the state has one of two options:
    1. Institute seat belt laws.
    2. Make it so that even if you are at fault in an accident, if the other party wasn't wearing a seat belt, you don't have to pay a dime.

    Of course, the second option has the problem that if the person who doesn't wear a belt gets rushed to the emergency room and doesn't pay their bill, then the hospital is left with it. Essentially, the general consumer will end up paying for it. Therefore, the only sensible option is the first option: prevention.
  • by Daytona955i (448665) <flynnguy24@NOsPAm.yahoo.com> on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @10:49PM (#17930276)
    I love slashdot, random people talking out of their ass. There are tons of situations where someone can (and have) gotten up after a motorcycle accident that would have otherwise knocked them unconscious. I myself was involved in a motorcycle accident (a lady ran a stop sign into me who had no stop sign). I suffered no injuries due to my helmet and leather jacket. I was sore, but I could walk, talk and eat. If I didn't have my helmet on I would have hat at the very least a nasty concussion.

    That said, I don't think people should be forced to wear one... however you would rarely, if ever, catch me without one.
  • by Zixia (534893) <{biteme} {at} {clu.org.uk}> on Thursday February 08, 2007 @03:57AM (#17931994) Homepage
    A person who survives a motorcycle crash because they wore a helmet, but sustains multiple fractures and internal bleeding will more costly to treat than a corpse. ...and can potentially give back more to society once fit again than a corpse.
  • by Zixia (534893) <{biteme} {at} {clu.org.uk}> on Thursday February 08, 2007 @04:07AM (#17932050) Homepage
    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 accident because of his lawfully-reckless driving, would you be annoyed if they had charged him for manslaughter?
  • by IDontAgreeWithYou (829067) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @07:43AM (#17932822)
    There are a lot of people in this world who see every human life as a potential problem rather than a potential contributor to the greater good. It's really sad actually.
  • by Filmcell-Keyrings (973083) on Thursday February 08, 2007 @07:51AM (#17932872) Homepage
    While I agree that not being allowed to cross a street while using an iPod, Cell phone etc is just ridiculous and I am opposed to the whole Nanny State thing that is also prevalent in the UK. I feel that I have the right not to be run over by some stupid pr1ck on his/her mobile. I have seen many instances of bad driving caused by this. You suggest that existing laws regarding careless driving are sufficient, and that only after demonstrating that the person is not able to drive while operating a cell phone - by having accidents. What if on the first accident they hit you, or a member of your family. I don't claim to have the answers, I just feel that this is not it. On a related topic 10 years ago we all managed fine without cell phones - nowadays there seems to be some sort of mania where people must answer their phone when it rings. Most cellphone conversations can wait - get over it

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