Some things in life are urgent: not everyone understands that you just have to post a fire emoji tweet before it leaves your mind, or immediately text your friend about seeing your lame ex on the street. Pamela Lampitt, a Democrat New Jersey legislator however, has proposed that the state introduces a bill that would make texting while walking a fineable and imprisonable offense.
Apparently the dangers of texting while walking (Twalking? Wexting?) are a growing problem in the state. Jared Schumacher, a 20-year-old Trenton, New Jersey resident told The Guardian that "I admit that I’m usually listening to music, talking on my phone or texting while I’m walking around." He continued, "I’ve never hurt myself, but I’ve seen people walk into poles or trip over a big crack in the sidewalk."
Should the law go through, residents could see a $50 fine or up to 15 days' imprisonment, or worse, both. The Guardian claims that experts blame the increasing number of pedestrian fatalities in the United States on an increased dependence on mobile phones. The percentage of pedestrian fatalities has significantly increased in the last ten years, having accounted for 11 percent of all American deaths in 2005 to 15 percent in 2014.
The National Safety Council reports that "distracted walking" incidents caused approximately 11,101 injuries between 2000 to 2011, with talking on the phone being the main cause of injury and texting causing 12 percent of incidents.
New Jersey is not the first state to attempt to introduce such legislature: Nevada, Arkansas, Illinois, and New York have all failed to pass such laws. Hawaii currently has a bill pending that would make crossing the street while operating an electronic device fineable for $250.