July 30 (FillGap News) — A bill signed into law by the mayor of Honolulu will impose fines on pedestrians who are caught looking at the phones while crossing the street.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell held a signing ceremony Thursday for the “distracted pedestrian” law, which takes effect October 25.
The text of the law, which was passed by the City Council in a 7-2 vote earlier this month, makes it illegal for pedestrians to “cross a street or highway while viewing a mobile electronic device.”
The devices covered by the law include cellphones, tablets, laptop computers, pagers, and video game devices. Pedestrians will still be allowed to talk on their phones while crossing the street and look at their electronic device screens while safely on the sidewalk.
“Sometimes I wish there were laws we did not have to pass, that perhaps common sense would prevail,” Caldwell said during the ceremony. “But sometimes we lack common sense.”
Caldwell said the ordinance, which he said is believed to be the first of its type in the nation, was needed due to Honolulu having the “unfortunate distinction of Honolulu being a major city with more pedestrians being hit in crosswalks, particularly our seniors, than almost any other city in the country.”
The law requires police to witness an offense to make an arrest, which would lead to fines of $15 to $35 for a first offense, $35 to $75 for a second offense, and $75 to $99 for a third offense.
Local officials said the legislation was first proposed by a group of local high school students.
“These high school groups were concerned for their peers being distracted while crossing the streets and looking at their phones instead of looking both ways,” Councilman Brandon Elefante told CNN.