March 3, 2013
Last Thursday, Las Vegas Assemblyman Harvey Munford (D) received a committee hearing for Assembly Bill 123 to prohibit pedestrians from texting or reading cellular phones while crossing roads statewide, even in residential neighborhoods.
Those caught violating the proposed bill would receive a written warning for a first offense, followed by a $100 fine and a $250 fine for a third. Munford also said he wanted to introduce a media campaign that portrays texting while walking as childish and dangerous.
Munford’s bill is in response to a study conducted by the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center at the University of Washington in Seattle that found one-in-four pedestrians didn’t follow all intersection crossing rules, with texting being the most dangerous behavior. The passing of a texting while crossing the street ban in the town of Fort Lee, N.J. that began giving out $85 tickets last year in cases of jaywalking was also noted.
According to Munford, Seattle officials are also considering a ban after he reached out to them. He also said that the law could spark studies on injuries and deaths resulted from texting while walking across the street.
“When kids get out of school, where they’ve been banned from using their phones all day, they go immediately to their texts. I’ve seen several close calls myself where people have almost been hit. Kids are so addicted to those things. It’s almost become a plague,” said Munford to the Los Angeles Times.
The bill makes exceptions for certain emergencies such as reporting criminal activity. Government employees responding to any emergency are also exempt from the bill.
While many agree that having one’s attention diverted while walking near or across a road is dangerous, some feel that the government has gone too far by attempting to criminalize every day activities and personal choices.
Munford has also introduced the controversial Assembly Bill 122 that would put a 5-cent fee on fast-food items with 500 or more calories, in an attempt to battle obesity.
Similar laws have been passed in other states, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s large soda ban that includes the sale of 2-liter sodas at restaurants. Washington state is also currently attempting to ban energy drinks for people under 18 years of age.
Reaction to Munford’s bills was reportedly neutral. Whether or not Nevada residents will approve or oppose what many are calling the “nanny state” has yet to be seen.
Mikael’s article first appeared on Examiner.com.