A New Jersey politician says people who text while walking should face up to 15 days in jail. Pamela Lampitt has proposed a bill making “distracted walking” an offense equivalent to jaywalking.
The state bill “Establishes [the] motor vehicle offense of unlawful use of hand-held wireless telephone by pedestrians on roadways.”
According to the Guardian, Lampitt says offenders would face the same maximum punishment as jaywalkers, namely a $50 fine, 15 days in prison, or both. Half of any money raised from fines would help fund safety campaigns about distracted walking.
The New Jersey Assembly has yet to publish the text of the bill online, but media reports suggest it would specifically ban the use of “electronic communications devices” unless in a hands-free mode when walking on public roads.
Given comments Lampitt has made to the media it appears the rules may only apply when actually crossing a road, rather than walking on the sidewalk.
It’s not clear if or how this would affect voice calls. There’s definitely an argument that using a Bluetooth headset is no safer (and perhaps more dangerous with headphones that use both ears) than walking while holding the phone to one ear.