It’s not uncommon to see a person using their cell phone, but it might no longer be allowed in New York while crossing the street.
Democratic State Senator, John Liu, whose district covers a portion of Northern Queens in New York City, proposed the bill to the Senate.
The bill, which would make crossing a roadway using a portable electronic device an offense, currently sits in the Senate Transportation Committee.
Violators could be fined anywhere between $50 to $250 dollars.
“About an hour ago I watched somebody crossing the street here on Market Street, they were texting and they weren’t paying attention,” Simon Bailor, a Parking Enforcement Supervisor for the City of Corning, said. “There was a car coming and the driver wasn’t paying attention.”
Bailor said a bus was sitting on the corner and honked the horn for the driver to look up and stop.
“The person texting never looked up until they crossed the street and almost got hit,” Bailor said.
The bill doesn’t just apply to texting, it includes playing games, sending emails, taking photos and searching the internet.
“It has been proven that distraction from texting while walking can cause pedestrians to cross roads very unsafely,” the bill states. “Not only can trips and falls occur, but even getting hit is more than just a possibility.
While there’s no direct evidence relating electronic device usage on crosswalks to accidents, the Governor’s Highway Safety Association found that nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed by crashes in 2017. It cited one of the contributing factors is the growth of smartphone use across the nation.
Pedestrian fatalities have also risen 46 percent between 2009 and 2016, according to the National Safety Council.
Local drivers felt that passing the bill could make it safer on the roadways.
“It would make me feel safer while driving, knowing someone’s not going to just walk out from a crosswalk just looking at their phone,” Nathan Prisella, a Corning resident, said.
And others felt the proposed bill is government overreach.
“I just think that sometimes, you’ve got to use some common sense,” Ann Martino, another Corning resident said. “I just think sometimes they’re overregulating by trying to tell us too much how we should live our lives.”