People Can Now Get a $99 Fine For Texting While Crossing the Street in Honolulu

Honolulu just imposed a strict rule allowing police to fine pedestrians up to $35 for the first offense if they are caught checking their phone while crossing the streets in the city and nearby county.

However, after the second offense, the fine would go as high as $75, and $99 for the third offense.

Honolulu is believed to be the first major city to pass such a law on Wednesday, and is considered a new milestone for the capital city of Hawaii, according to Brandon Elefante, a City Council member who proposed the bill.

This is really milestone legislation that sets the bar high for safety,” Elefante said while speaking with the New York Times, adding that pedestrians will share responsibility for their safety with drivers.

In 2016, the number of pedestrian deaths jumped to 9% — or 5,987 — from 2015.

One reason for the sharp increase in mobile consumption is “a frequent source of mental and visual distraction” for both pedestrians and drivers, according to a report by the Governors Highway Safety Association.

However, the data is inconclusive as there’s no way to determine if all the deaths are related to texting while walking.

This isn’t the first time a law such as this was implemented in a city. Several others in different states tried to pass one, including Fort Lee, New Jersey, for example. The ordinance was passed in 2012.

At least 10 states tried to pass a similar ordinance like the one in Honolulu, but none of them were ever approved, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Pedestrian injuries and deaths linked to distracted walking have also pushed local governments around the world to address the issue.

Chongqing, China introduced “cellphone lanes” in 2014, while India unveiled “no selfie zones” to help curb stampedes and stop accidental deaths, according to TIME.

To review the recent law passed in Honolulu, click here.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons / Z22 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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