Owning a smartphone can be convenient, until it becomes too distracting – especially when crossing the street.
The state of Hawai‘i is pushing to legalize Bill 6, which would make it illegal for people to use their smartphones while using acrosswalk.
“As technology has advanced in the last decade, we see that more and more people are not paying attention to their surroundings, and looking at their mobile electronic devices. Safety is a concern. We don’t certainly want it to lead to a casualty or a severe injury with people crossing the street,” Brandon Elefante, the state council member who introduced the proposal, told KHON2.
To enact such a bill into law would be a great way to ensure pedestrians their safety, by keeping their eyes on the crosswalk rather than their phone screens.
A reasonable punishment
Preventing pedestrian-related accidents is not an irrational goal. With an average of 24 pedestrian deaths per year recorded in Hawai‘i between 2008 and 2012, 34 percent of these accidents have involved crosswalks. Should Bill 6 be enacted, the possibility of decreasing fatality rates would be a welcome reality.
“We believe that pedestrian safety and traffic safety, in general, is a shared responsibility and requires a collaborative effort,” Major Kerry Inouye of the Honolulu Police Department’s Traffic Division told Hawai‘i Public Radio. “Also, when pedestrians commit violations of the law or hazardous acts it also endangers other pedestrians and motorists.”
Once put into law, Bill 6 will impose a fine of $15 to $100 for the first offense, should pedestrians be caught using a mobile device while in a crosswalk. For a second offense, the fine may increase to up to $200. If the perpetrator is caught breaking the law a third time within the same year, a fine of up to $500 could be filed against them.
“I think the first offense should be more of a warning,” said Ariana Kepilino, a full-time Hawaiian studies student at Windward Community College. “Just to let the people know that this is no game the law is playing.”
These are not unreasonable punishments, but instead a fair representation of the seriousness of keeping pedestrians safe while crossing the road.
Inouye also stated that forensic analysis will be used, should there be a lack of witnesses present at serious accidents or crime scenes.
The bigger issues
The banning of mobile usage while crossing the street is one of many solutions to keep pedestrians safe. But it is miniscule in comparison to other road-related issues, such as a lack of stop signs, drunk driving and cell phone usage while behind the wheel.
“I think it’s even more dangerous on crosswalks without stop signs or traffic light,” said Kepilino. “If the state could fix that as well, it would be a relief.”
With the state of Hawai‘i ranked as number one for danger to senior pedestrians, it is the duty of both pedestrians and drivers to be responsible on the road at all times. Laws are only one way of keeping pedestrians safe. But being alert while behind the wheel or crossing a street can make all the difference.