In early 2016, a bill was introduced in New Jersey to make it a criminal violation to use a phone as you are walking in public. The law would provide a fine up to $50 or 15 days imprisonment for a violation. It did not pass. This year, a Bill has been introduced to take New Jersey back to when motorists only had to yield to pedestrians in cross-walks, not stop. The current law causes confusion between motorists and pedestrians resulting in a 10% increase in the pedestrian fatality rate since the law went into effect in 2010.
Nationwide, pedestrian fatalities are up 12% in 2016. Nearly 6,000 deaths occurred last year. There are many factors contributing to the increase such as lower gas prices and an aging population walking for exercise. No doubt; however, distracted driving and walking play a major role. Seeing a pedestrian crossing the street while looking down at their phone is just as common as seeing a motorist texting or talking on their phone.
The question we have to answer is how intrusive should our government get in passing laws to try and limit cell phone use by motorists and pedestrians. Like the war on terrorism, should we give up our civil liberties in the name of safety? This not an easy question to answer. You can have a never ending debate over these issues. And how much weight should be placed upon the fact that laws like New Jersey’s 2010 pedestrian law exacerbated the problem instead of improving it. These are issues we should all be carefully thinking about.
If you or a family member have been injured or killed by a distracted driver or pedestrian in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, you need to contact me, Joseph Monaco, immediately at 1-855-Joe-Legal (Toll-Free) to protect yourself as well as your family.