Fines begin at $15-35, and can escalate up to $99 for recurrent violations. Meanwhile, jaywalking can land you a $130 fine.
The fines are quite low, but will hopefully deter people from reaching for their devices, and avoid getting hit by a car or running into another pedestrian while in a crosswalk.
But the law doesn’t go quite far enough and still allows people to talk on their phone while crossing the street, while exempting emergency personnel, first responders and people who use their phone to contact 911 in the event of an emergency.
The dangers of texting while driving go without saying, with 47 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands banning this practice, according to 2017 data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
A new law to ban texting while crossing the street is needed because it will hopefully serve as a deterrent to reduce fatalities and injuries. Yet banning talking would be an additional step that could also help to reduce injuries and save lives.
As a practicing emergency medicine physician in New York City, I have treated many people who have sustained lacerations and fractures, along with head and neck injuries, linked to smartphone use while in crosswalks.
It’s just not worth the risk. Keep your head and eyes up and focused on your surroundings when you cross the street.