7.30.2017

Honolulu is the first big US city to ban phone use at crosswalks

Honolulu has a better reason than most US cities to adopt this kind of ban. Mayor Kirk Caldwell notes that his city has more crosswalk impacts than “almost any other city” in the US, so the fines could have a sizeable impact even compared to smartphone-addicted cities like New York or San Francisco. Reuters points out that over 11,000 crosswalk injuries could be blamed on phone use between 2000 and 2011 alone, and most of that was before smartphones took off.

There are certainly some outstanding concerns with the law. Critics contend that Honolulu would be better off educating people about responsible phone use than asking police to stop you while you’re in mid-text. Surely there are bigger crimes to deal with, opponents argue. However, the bigger problem may be the consistency of enforcement. As with many minor infractions, police may decide to look the other way unless this leads to something more serious (in this case, a collision). The fine may just be a formality, a penalty you pay on top of whatever other punishment you’re already facing. Still, the law might be a success if it persuades even a few people to pay attention.

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