We’ve all done it, we are all guilty of attempting the art of multitasking while walking somewhere, sometimes that means checking an email or responding to a text. But much like texting and driving, texting and walking has now become somewhat of a danger to innocent pedestrians.
If you don’t look up and don’t see where you’re going chances are you’ll run into something, but what about the dangers of someone running into you? Those odds are also stacked against us.
Texting and walking should be administered the same as texting and driving, if you absolutely need to respond right away- pull over. For Chicago pedestrians using a sidewalk this shouldn’t be an issue, but those who use their phones whilst crossing a street may want to rethink their decision.
A new ordinance proposed Wednesday by Ald. Edward Burke (14th) and Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), those of us looking at our phones on a cross street, would face fines ranging from $90 to $500 per occurrence.
The aldermen claim they want to discourage “distracted walking” behavior by slapping those pedestrians with hefty fines. The ordinance states: “No person shall cross a street or highway while using a mobile electronic device in a manner that averts their visual attention to that device or that device’s activity.”
It defines “mobile electronic device” as “any handheld or other portable electronic equipment capable of providing wireless and/or data communication between two or more persons or of providing amusement.” Those amusements “include” but are not limited to “a mobile telephone, mobile gaming device, text messaging device, paging device, personal digital assistant, laptop computer, video game or digital photographic device.”
In Chicago, 27 pedestrians have already been killed in the first half of 2017, an increase of one death during the same period last year, according to data presented to the Mayor Rahm Emanuel by the Pedestrian Advisory Committee.
“In the United States pedestrian deaths in 2016 spiked 9 percent from the year before, rising to 5,987 which is the highest toll on American roads since 1990,” according to a preamble to the ordinance.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people who text and walk are nearly four times more likely to engage in at least one dangerous action, like jaywalking or not looking both ways, and take 18 percent more time to cross a street than pedestrians who weren’t distracted.