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Democrats Government Transportation

NJ Legislator Proposes Fine For Walking While Phone-Distracted (philly.com) 194

schwit1 writes: A bill proposed this week by Assemblywoman Pamela R. Lampitt (D., Camden) would impose a fine of up to $50 and possibly 15 days in jail for pedestrians caught using their cellphones without hands-free devices while walking on public sidewalks and along roadways. If the bill becomes law, 'petextrians' — people who text while walking — would face the same penalties as jaywalkers in New Jersey. From the article: Researchers say distracted walkers are more likely to ignore traffic lights or fail to look both ways before crossing the street. ... Lampitt said she wants that message to hit home in New Jersey for pedestrians and motorists who could easily be distracted while looking at mobile devices. Her bill, however, faces an uncertain future in the Legislature. It has not been posted for a vote and Lampitt acknowledged she might have a tough time getting it passed." Distracted pedestrians surely pose some risks, but they don't budge the needle compared to overbearing officialdom.
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NJ Legislator Proposes Fine For Walking While Phone-Distracted

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    to give police to arrest someone for some other pretense.

    • Are you envisioning an Al Capone-style take down?

      "It is true, Your Honor and the Jury, that we cannot prove Mugs Malone strangled forty three people, ran extortion rackets in the Tri-City Area, and regularly raped chimpanzees, but what we can prove is that this murdering monkey raping gangster did willfully and with ill intent cross Main Street on no less than three occasions while texting on his iPhone!"

      • by Noah Haders ( 3621429 ) on Sunday March 27, 2016 @12:31PM (#51787457)

        No, more like a "papers, please" kind of stop. "Texting while walking? Well now I'm going to stop and detain you, check your ID, immigration status, and frisk you for any contraband." I bet a good amount of money that the vast majority people cited for texting while walking are poor blacks and latinos.

        • Funny how a bill which would give bad police another tool to harass poor minorities this way is coming from a Democrat. It all fits with the Party of Hillary: give lip service to poor minorities while screwing them over. And what's really bad is they're happily voting for her in the Primaries rather than the guy who would really help them.

    • Too many stupid people were hit by cars and ruined it, causing government to step in.

    • Agreed. This should be resolved via natural selection.

      • This should be resolved via natural selection.

        And it was: people who prioritised ensuring they'd survive their stupid mistakes outcompeted people who prioritised making sure others wouldn't.

    • No shit, these people should be policed by their fellow pedestrians and/or natural selection via cars.

      These police state scumbags are really getting out of hand.

  • wrong solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 27, 2016 @12:14PM (#51787365)

    Distracted pedestrians (and anyone else distracted while doing something else) just need to be properly assigned responsibility for the problems they cause.

    If a distracted pedestrian, not obeying traffic laws gets mowed down, then that is on them, 100%. Driver walks away scot-free. If they cause an accident, they pay for damages, 100%. If they cause any financial hardship on anyone for their distractedness, they own it, 100%.

    Oh, but wait. That requires a society that recognizes personal responsibility and this is the US we are talking about here. Never mind silly old me.

    • by Tx ( 96709 )

      I don't know why you got modded down for that, I guess a lot of slashdotters are iPhone zombies. Or maybe it was the unnecessary anti-USA comment at the end of an otherwise good point. I tend to agree, the people that tend to suffer most in distracted-pedestrian incidents are the people that caused the issue, so why not let natural selection take its course? Over time, we should be able to breed out the people that can't bring themselves to focus when stepping in to traffic, and the human race will be all t

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      > If a distracted pedestrian, not obeying traffic laws gets mowed down, then that is on them, 100%. Driver walks away scot-free.

      The law says that drivers yield to pedestrians, even jaywalkers. doesn't matter if they're distracted or not. In a pedestrian accident, the driver is at fault.

      > If they cause an accident, they pay for damages, 100%. If they cause any financial hardship on anyone for their distractedness, they own it, 100%.

      Not clear what you mean. typically when there is an accident, you asses

      • by chihowa ( 366380 )

        The law says that drivers yield to pedestrians, even jaywalkers. doesn't matter if they're distracted or not. In a pedestrian accident, the driver is at fault.

        Which law are you referring to, because I can't think of a single state that doesn't allow the particulars of the situation to be considered when determining the fault of a collision between a vehicle and a pedestrian? Nobody (except the police, apparently) have license to mow down pedestrians with impunity, but if a reasonably attentive drive could not avoid a collision with a pedestrian then they can be found not at fault for such a collision. I'm sure you can think of several examples that would fit that

        • > I'm sure you can think of several examples that would fit that description

          Agreed that the particulars of the edge cases will influence decisions on fault. But absent extreme circumstances (driver has a gun to his head? Pedestrian with rocket pack?), what could a pedestrian be possibly doing that would not be detected and avoided by a reasonably attentive driver? Even if you're walking distractedly, you're only doing so at 2MPH and there would be plenty of time for a reasonably attentive driver to notic

          • Re:wrong solution (Score:4, Informative)

            by chihowa ( 366380 ) on Sunday March 27, 2016 @01:55PM (#51787881)

            The other responses in this thread list a few, including the classic: pedestrian steps out from between two parked vehicles into a stream of busy traffic moving at speed. An accident of some sort is extremely likely in that case and that's the sort of situation that inspired jaywalking laws to begin with. You don't need contrived gun-to-head scenarios unless you're being deliberately obtuse. A reasonably attentive driver doesn't have superhuman reflexes and the ability to change the laws of physics when maneuvering or braking a car. (Legally, a reasonably attentive driver is even allowed to be looking the opposite way or checking their mirrors or gauges for the second that it would take such a jaywalker to enter the stream of traffic.)

            • I think it's unlikely that a reasonably attentive driver would hit a pedestrian stepping out between parked cars. On any road, there still needs to be room for somebody who just parked to open his door. if a driver is attentive for people who will open their door, then he's attentive for peds stepping out. if it's a really high speed road, then there will be plenty of buffer between the through lanes and the parked cars.

              > A reasonably attentive driver doesn't have superhuman reflexes and the ability to c

              • by flink ( 18449 )

                I think it's unlikely that a reasonably attentive driver would hit a pedestrian stepping out between parked cars. On any road, there still needs to be room for somebody who just parked to open his door.

                That's rich. In Boston, we have plenty of streets that are two-way in name only. You either familiarize yourself with the convention of which way people tend to drive down it or be prepared to play chicken. And that's before people start parking half on the sidewalk. On both sides of the street. And then dump a couple of feet of snow on top of it.

                When you open the driver side door, you check your mirror, crack the door, look over your shoulder, and then make a break for the sidewalk (or Look, Latch, and

                • by Cederic ( 9623 )

                  Needless to say, if a pedestrian strolls out from behind a van or SUV without peeking around the edge for traffic first, yes they will get flattened, no matter how attentive the driver or how hard they stand on the brake.

                  Then the driver is at fault for driving too fast. Shit, you've just described a congested highly pedestrianised area; driving at any speed needing more than a car length's worth of stopping distance sounds pretty fucking stupid to me.

                  In the UK many residential streets are like that, with whole districts that way. People drive slowly and accidents are rare.

                  • "Then the driver is at fault for driving too fast. "
                    Absolutely not. Pedestrians HAVE to be held accountable for their stupidity.

                • by pla ( 258480 )
                  On any road, there still needs to be room for somebody who just parked to open his door.

                  Nope. If you open your door into traffic and someone driving by clips it, you have caused the accident.

                  Irrelevant, anyway - If someone steps out from between two large vehicles, you can't go from 25 to zero faster than that person can take two steps. Physics always wins.
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            You don't have a driver's license, do you?

            How about a driver is driving, well within the speed limit, past a dense row of parked cars, and a pedestrian previously hidden behind one of the cars (say, a van) just absent-mindedly walks from between the cars right into the road, right in front of the driver's car with no way for the driver to react? Hell, what if the distracted pedestrian actually walks into the driver's car as it's passing by, hits its side and gets smacked by the rear view mirror? I've had a

            • by mysidia ( 191772 )

              or to drive at a walking pace in places like that.

              This is exactly what the law requires that drivers do, and that's what the prosecution against the driver may very well say in court after the accident ---- they were driving too fast... even though it was below the speed limit; the driver of the vehicle was responsible to see the densely parked cars and operate their vehicle and a slow enough speed that the driver would be able to stop for any unexpected pedestrian emerging.

              • by pla ( 258480 )
                This is exactly what the law requires that drivers do

                It requires no such thing. That situation describes any urban road, with speed limits between 25 and 35MPH, not 5MPH.
            • The only way to avoid that would be to either install some sort of "parked-car-penetrating radar" on my car to warn me about people I can't see, or to drive at a walking pace in places like that.

              So do so.

              Or - and I know this is a radical thought - you could teach your goddamn kids to take care of themselves instead of relying on everyone else to work around them,

              Or how about you, a trained adult operating dangerous machinery on public places, stop blaming your own incompetence on others, especially kids?

              a

          • what could a pedestrian be possibly doing that would not be detected and avoided by a reasonably attentive driver?

            Jogging at night and running across an intersection against the light when the speed limit on the road is 45 mph. Standing behind a tall car or light pole and stepping into traffic. Standing behind other people and stepping into traffic. Standing behind nothing at all and stepping into traffic.

          • True story: We were on an arterial street, going the speed limit (going much less would have disrupted traffic), and the light was green. There was a bus pulled over to the curb.

            Suddenly, a family of idiots walked out from behind the bus with no warning whatsoever. There was no possible way we could have seen them before they were in an active lane of traffic.

            Fortunately, we were one lane over from the bus, which gave us a little maneuvering time, and we were able to avert a tragic accident. Had we

      • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

        There are some scenarios where everyone pretty much relies on the other person being rational.

        Yes, if you see someone texting that looks like they are about to step out in front of you, you stop or try to avoid them.

        If some idiot suddenly steps out into an road from between two cars or something, and you don't see them in time, and they didn't register your presence because they were staring down at a phone... well that person is at fault.

        You know, you'd think that people really aren't that stupid, but ever

        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          This backwards walking woman...

          How can you let that exist without asking why? I'd have to ask... "Excuse me, ma'am? I see you walking backwards frequently and I'm a curious person. Why are you walking backwards?"

          I do, indeed, get some interesting conversations out of life. I could not just let that happen - I'd have to ask her why.

          It's like the age-old question, "If you see a crazy person smashing their head against a wall, would you help them?" Nope. I most certainly would not. For starters, they're crazy

          • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

            I would have to work far too hard to distract her from her headphones and phone to get her attention to even try and ask.

      • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

        Where is such a law? In NYS, for instance, the law says that a driver must give the right of way to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. And there have been a few cases recently where a car hit a pedestrian and the pedestrian was cited and the driver was not. In one case the pedestrian was crossing the street and not in a crosswalk, and in the other case the pedestrian was walking on the wrong side of the road.

        • It probably varies by state. In CA,

          21950. (a) The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to
          a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or
          within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except as otherwise
          provided in this chapter.
          (b) This section does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of
          using due care for his or her safety. No pedestrian may suddenly
          leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path
          of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.
          No pedestrian may unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a
          marked or unmarked crosswalk.
          (c) The driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian within any
          marked or unmarked crosswalk shall exercise all due care and shall
          reduce the speed of the vehicle or take any other action relating to
          the operation of the vehicle as necessary to safeguard the safety of
          the pedestrian.
          (d) Subdivision (b) does not relieve a driver of a vehicle from
          the duty of exercising due care for the safety of any pedestrian
          within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an
          intersection.

          If a driver dashes onto the freeway and causes an unavoidable accident, the driver is not at fault. But if a pedestrian is walking distractedly, and causes an accident that the driver could have avoided, then the driver is at fault.

          • by chihowa ( 366380 )

            Did you read section (b) from the quoted passage? Because your bolded section (d) is only modifying that section "within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection."

            Your posted example completely agrees with the parent's description of the NY law. The example you gave doesn't apply at all when the pedestrian is jaywalking.

      • The law says that drivers yield to pedestrians, even jaywalkers. doesn't matter if they're distracted or not. In a pedestrian accident, the driver is at fault.

        Easy solution. Cite the pedestrian for jaywalking. Cite the driver for failing to yield. Have them both go to court and determine who's actions were most responsible for the accident, and have that person pay the damages/suffer the penalties. If they were exceedingly reckless, or made the accident unavoidable, cancel the other's citation (eg, car-on-sidewalk, pedestrian jumping from behind parked cars).

        • I agree, this makes sense. Here's an interesting twist: due to car insurance, drivers face no financial liability except in extreme circumstances where your insurer tells you to eff off. however, pedestrians don't have ped insurance.

          All the regulations were written around the idea that every driver would have car insurance (it's the law!), and it's not a life or death financial situation when you assign fault for an accident. Nobody's going bankrupt from a crash. But in the scenario above, would the ped be

          • by mysidia ( 191772 )

            drivers face no financial liability except in extreme circumstances where your insurer tells you to eff off.

            No... when drivers are at fault, they are liable, but it's insured liability. Drivers will pay for it in insurance premiums over time and more.

            however, pedestrians don't have ped insurance.

            This is their choice.... Generally, attention to their injuries would be covered by health insurance, and any liability would be covered by general liability insurance, homeowners' insurance, or an Umbre

      • "The law says that drivers yield to pedestrians, even jaywalkers. doesn't matter if they're distracted or not. In a pedestrian accident, the driver is at fault."
        And that stupidity needs top come to an end.

        • Argh, can't trust spell check when the mis-typed word is actually a word itself...

        • why? ever hear of responsibility? taking responsibility for their actions? drivers have all the power in any driver/ped interaction.

          • Yeah, like the pedestrian taking responsibility for paying attention to the world around them,

            When a human/car collision occurs, guess which suffers the most damage? Maybe if stupid people paid more attention and were more cautious, it wouldn't be an issue, but unfortunately blame needs to be applied to the party actually at fault, and if the pedestrian is disobeying traffic laws (only cross on green at a designated crosswalk, for example), then the PEDESTRIAN is 100% at fault

            PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY, the p

    • The law makes it pretty clear that pedestrians have the right of way. Just because you're jaywalking does not give drivers carte-blanche to mow you down.

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      So what happens when the diver was texting and the pedestrian was texting, who is at greater fault. Especially as legally speaking the pedestrian did not agree to laws bound to accepting a drivers licence, that the driver accepted. Perhaps a simple rider needs to be added being "which resulted in an accident occurring", so no harm, no fowl ie what happened to the chicken that crossed the road while texting ;).

      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        So what happens when the diver was texting and the pedestrian was texting, who is at greater fault.

        If the driver was texting and ran into the pedestrian, then the driver is 100% at fault, full stop.

        As a pedestrian; there is generally no hazard from texting, and all the danger is caused by the fact there are cars, and the distracted driving cannot be overcome by any action of the pedestrian.

    • If a distracted pedestrian, not obeying traffic laws gets mowed down, then that is on them, 100%. Driver walks away scot-free.

      This will lead to the same problem as with "stand your ground" laws: it's typically not possible to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the pedestrian obeyed traffick laws, so the driver will walk away.

      If they cause any financial hardship on anyone for their distractedness, they own it, 100%.

      Wall Street will veto a law like that.

  • by axewolf ( 4512747 ) on Sunday March 27, 2016 @12:19PM (#51787399)

    In a state where everything is legislated, the people in it are assumed by the state to be mindless slaves who would stop functioning without constant instruction in minute details of life. And they are probably correct in that judgement.

    You should take these stories personally. I think it would be difficult to over react. You can see countless examples of such laws already enacted.
    You think you're so intelligent that such laws would never affect you. But there are such laws that affect you.

    Instead of making excuses for the signs of your government's tyranny, you should inventory the examples.
    I think most anyone who has the discipline to do this will come to the conclusion that they are not a respected citizen of the state.

    Maybe if enough people were to harden themselves in this way there could be an opportunity for freedom for those who deserve it.

  • If you're not jaywalking, what's the problem? If you are jaywalking, then you can already be cited for jaywalking.

    • by murdocj ( 543661 )

      The problem is the idiots who can't look up from their phone while crossing the street. I suppose you could view it as "evolution in action" that they are eventually going to get hit, but as a driver, I really don't want to hit anyone.

    • sidewalks are for regular walking, not for fancy walking!

    • The problem is that the legislator chafes under the "hand up and drive" rules, and wants to "push back" against pedestrians to "level the playing field."

      He'd love it in my State, where every intersection has implied cross walks, and the pedestrian has the right of way at all of them. :) :) :)

      The funny thing is, I see way more drivers using a phone than pedestrians.

  • Why fine them? seem to me this is job security for lawyers. We can always use more lawyers..
  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Sunday March 27, 2016 @12:26PM (#51787435)
    Who spend their time diddling away at ridiculous bills when there are real problems to be solved.
  • Wow! Lobbying really works, doesn't it.

  • It's worth noting here that all laws are, by their very definition, "evil". If such a term truly exists, then surely it applies to the deprivation of natural rights by a foreign body.

    Now, in some cases the alternative is worse than the law; it's a necessary evil. We can all agree that a law prohibiting the taking of a human life for sport to be a better evil than the alternative. However, it doesn't diminish the threat laws impose upon the governed.

    I wish more people understood this. At the very least, I wish our law makers understood this rather basic concept. If they did, we might never have to deal with idiotic laws like the one proposed.

    Dear Assemblywoman Pamela R. Lampitt, I propose a new law; No legislating while drunk, which you so clearly are if you think this is a good use of the public's energy.

    • In a normal mostly hands-off (liberterian) state, that's true.

      A lot of things change once you mandate publicly funded health care. Now when the idiot is hit by a car at the intersection because he was texting instead of watching for traffic, his medical costs are borne by society instead of by only himself. Society has an interest in reducing overall medical costs. Thus it has a justification to pass laws prohibiting risky behaviors like texting while walking.

      (In case you're wondering, I don't cons
      • by fnj ( 64210 )

        Thus [society] has a justification to pass laws prohibiting risky behaviors like texting while walking.

        Does society also have a justification to knock everybody out with drugs, feed them intravenously, and hold them all under restraint 24x7? Because that is the full expression if we follow that bizarre line of thought to its logical conclusion.

    • It's worth noting here that all laws are, by their very definition, "evil".

      No, that's not the definition of laws. The only way it's a definition is if you personally define it as such. At that point you're just stating "I believe laws are evil therefore laws are evil". If you believe all laws are evil merely by being laws, then that's your very silly perogative.

      We can all agree that a law prohibiting the taking of a human life for sport to be a better evil than the alternative.

      No we can't all agree that, mo

  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Sunday March 27, 2016 @12:33PM (#51787469)

    dictating your lives since you had lives to dictate.

  • We have enough laws. Get bent. Keep posting shit like this and my karma is going to go back to Terrible.
  • by mi ( 197448 ) <slashdot-2016q1@virtual-estates.net> on Sunday March 27, 2016 @12:59PM (#51787603) Homepage Journal

    Assemblywoman Pamela R. Lampitt (D., Camden)

    An earlier proposal — from Ms. Lampitt's fellow female Democrat from Essex — would've made it mandatory for bicycles to be registered [nj.com] in the State.

    Kinda reflects badly on the national Party trying to portray itself as the defender of personal freedoms and individual rights.

  • Last time I checked, the danger level of a distracted pedestrian that isn't inside a museum without those velvet ropes was a damage threat of no actual injure and monetary costs not to exceed one latte. It's not like they kill other people, or plow through storefronts, or destroy vehicles worth thousands of dollars and up.
    I guess Lampitt is planning her next bill to be the Drunken Walker Bill where if you have an blood alcohol concentration exceeding 0.08 you get a an expensive ticket for drunk walking. The
    • Most States already have that law, but they call it "drunken in public" rather than "drunk walking." But note that drunk drivers are not also changed with public drunkenness; it is exclusively for drunk walkers. Well, and people passed out after having walked some distance.

  • This proposed law gets it half right. I'd have no problem with a law that prohibited using electronic devices while crossing streets. But there is no reason to prohibit such activity while walking on public sidewalks. Yes, you might run the risk of bumping into somebody, and if you walk so carelessly as to do that, you might reasonably be charged with creating a public nuisance, but that sort of careless walking doesn't pose nearly the same danger as crossing roads while distracted, and it is absurd to p
    • by Livius ( 318358 )

      I like this. The pedestrian crossing the road is sharing the public highway with motorized vehicles; the pedestrian on the side walk is not.

  • while walking, please? Sometimes it is hard to walk and breath behind a smoker.
  • by PPH ( 736903 )

    First phones. Next, chewing gum.

  • Without knowing any details... would this have anything to do with the fact that private prison companies pouer a lot of money into politicians? Because it make sense to make ridiculous tough laws if you get money from for-profit prisons...

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