City officials in Philadelphia are denying reports that claim cellphone users could face a fine of $120 if they're caught walking and sending SMS messages on their mobile phones.
Editor's note: This post has been updated to reflect recent statements made by Philadelphia officials
Senior officials say reports in the media and blogosphere that claim people will get a fine for walking while texting are not true. Reports surfaced yesterday indicating the city of Philadelphia will be handing out $120 fines to pedestrians who text while they walk without looking ahead.
Today, Philadelphia Deputy Mayor for Transportation and Public Utilities, Rina Cutler, told NBC Philadelphia those statements are not accurate. "Pedestrians may be reminded to be more aware of their surroundings; however, there are no citations issued by the PPD for texting while walking, Cutler said. "If a Philadelphia police officer observes a driver, cyclist or pedestrian participating in any kind of potentially dangerous behavior, the officer will remind them to be careful."
Initial reports yesterday said texters would be fined as part of a new program called "Give Respect, Get Respect," which was launched in the spring and targets bad behaviour by people traveling in cars, bicycles and on foot. While motorists or cyclists could face fines, pedestrians are not part of the program Cutler said.
Going one step further than a fine, some politicians are actually hoping to get outright bans; Arkansas State Sen. Jimmy Jeffress wanted to prohibit people from walking while wearing headphones in both ears, MSBNC reports; and New York State Sen. Paul Kruger wants to ban pedestrians from using iPods, cellphones and other devices while on public sidewalks, reports Time. Jeffress dropped the idea after massive public backlash, but Kruger continues to push for the ban, as he has been since 2007.
This isn't the first time a law involving cell phone distractions has come into play. This winter, New York Senator Carl Kruger tried to pass a bill that would make it illegal to use your cellphone or any other electronic device while crossing the street in New York.
Whether you're walking or driving, using a cellphone generally requires a large amount of concentration and when that focus is compromised, that puts other people's safety at risk.
One example is what YouTube users have come to refer to as the Fountain Lady. A Pennsylvania woman who tripped into a mall fountain while user her phone soon became the pun of the online world, after a video of the incident ended up being taped and uploaded onto the popular site.