Frowned upon or illegal?
In Manhattan, N.Y., Senator Carl Kruger is on a mission to stop distracted walking.
Kruger says he wants pedestrians should be able to incur fines for crossing the street while texting, talking on the phone, surfing the next, or switching songs on an Ipod.
Although Kruger’s legislation only requires that residents of cities with a population larger than 1 million people, it is possible that other states or counties may catch on to the idea of prohibiting the act of distracted walking.
In Arkansas, a state senator is pushing for similar legislation as Kruger. The Arkansas law, however, would only prohibit the use of headphones while crossing a street.
There have been several reported accidents involving distracted pedestrians which have led to untimely and tragic deaths.
One such incident occurred in Manhattan during December, when a man was listening to music on his headphones and did not hear the backup signal as a vehicle rounded a street corner. The man was reportedly crushed to death, because he was not aware of his surroundings.
Despite accidents and injuries from distracted walking, there is definite conflict about whether or not legal action should be taken.
When asked about whether or they believe headphones should be illegal to wear headphones while crossing the street, sophomore biology major Cassandra Murphy and freshman psychology major Bekah Orendac, are of differing opinions.
“It isn’t necessary to ban wearing headphones while crossing the street,” Murphy said. “If pedestrians look both ways it doesn’t matter if they can hear or not.”
Orendac has the opposing view.
“Banning the use of headphones while crossing the street is a good idea,” Orendac said. “If you are listening to your music you aren’t really paying attention to what you are doing. Anybody could just come up and hit you.”
Murphy says the legislation isn’t logical.
“I don’t think there is any way to keep people from being distracted,” Murphy said. “Even if they aren’t using an electronic device, there are plenty of other things that could distract them.”
That does not mean that Murphy is not concerned if pedestrians pay attention or not.
“You shouldn’t be looking at any electronic device while crossing the street,” Murphy said. “You never know when somebody is going to fly by. Just the other day, I was about to enter a cross walk and somebody just drove in front of me so quickly. I wasn’t even distracted when it happened. If I had been on my cell phone it probably would have been worse.”
Bekah Orendac thinks other factors besides distracted walking could be contributing the pedestrian accidents.
“Pedestrians think that they have the right of way, and they do, if they’re at a crosswalk” Orendac said. “But that doesn’t mean that cars are automatically going to stop. Pedestrians need to be aware of what’s going on around them all the time.”
Even if the legislation passed, whether or not it came to the Kansas area, there was some skepticism as to whether or not it would be a beneficial law.
“I think people should be paying attention to where they are going and to others around them, so it should be up to them to cross the street safely,” Murphy said. “It is unnecessary to try to pass legislation prohibiting the use of electronic devices because it will not solve the problem completely.”
Orendac agrees with Murphy.
“Prohibiting electronic devices and headphones is a good idea,” Orendac said. “But unless people are actually fined for it, I don’ think anything will change.”