Honolulu Takes Big Step to Combat 'Smartphone Zombies'

Law bans looking at smartphone, texting while crossing the street
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 1, 2017 8:43 AM CDT
You won't see this too much in Honolulu come the end of October.   (Getty Images/mediaphotos)

(Newser) – You won't find padded lampposts in Honolulu. That's because the Hawaiian city hopes to discourage pedestrians from "distracted walking" altogether, notably with one piece of legislation its mayor signed into law late last week, Reuters reports. Per the new mandate to combat "smartphone zombies," pedestrians who check their electronic devices while crossing the street will be fined (between $15 and $99, based on how many times a law enforcement official spots them sneaking a peek). Mayor Kirk Caldwell says the law was necessary because Honolulu has the "unfortunate distinction" of having more people be slammed into by cars than almost any other city in the US.

However, critics say the law curtails personal freedom and will pull law enforcement away from more pressing problems. "Scrap this intrusive bill, provide more education to citizens about responsible electronics usage, and allow law enforcement to focus on larger issues," one citizen wrote to the city council, which passed the bill 7-2 last month. Honolulu may be the most major city to pass such a rule, but Fox News points out that at least one other city—Fort Lee, NJ—has a similar no-texting-while-walking law. Who won't get busted under the law, which goes into effect Oct. 25: anyone making a call for emergency services. (Read more Honolulu stories.)

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