New Jersey proposes $50 fines, jail time for pedestrians who text while walking

A lawmaker in New Jersey is proposing issuing fines to pedestrians who text while walking.

The new law would treat texting while walking the same way it treats jaywalking and points to a study by William Patterson University health professor, Doctor Corey Basch.

"We observed around 20,000 pedestrians and what we've found is that about a third of pedestrians were distracted when crossing on the 'Walk' signal," she said. "And as if that wasn't bad enough, we found that nearly 40% were distracted on a 'Don't Walk' signal, so that would be darting out in the street."

Basch says most of those distracted walkers were on their headphones and oblivious to any warning noise from traffic signals or speeding emergency vehicles.

In 2010, 4,000 pedestrians were killed while engaged in distracted walking.

Doctor Basch says that since many people walk while texting, handing out tickets for the offense might be difficult if not impossible to enforce.

"Just from my studies themselves and how difficult it is to observe these masses of people cross the street, I can only imagine how hard it would be to enforce legislation when you have what seems like a mob of people crossing the street at one time," she said.

In addition to a $50 fine, violators of the texting and walking law could also get up to 15 days in jail.