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article imageU.S. town ticketing pedestrians caught texting while jaywalking

By Leigh Goessl     May 15, 2012 in Odd News
Fort Lee - Over the decades a popular saying joked that some people are unable to walk and chew bubble gum at the same time. Fast forward to 2012 and the saying refers to walking and texting at the same time.
Only in the modern day, it's not a joke. Texting has become a serious distraction and leads to preoccupation which can potentially lead to hazardous situations.
Earlier this week it was reported one N.J. town had commenced ticketing pedestrians that are caught walking and texting at the same time.
"It's a big distraction," Police Chief Thomas Ripoli, of Fort Lee, N.J. said, reported The Record. "Pedestrians aren't watching where they're going. They're not aware."
This ticketing was later clarified by MSNBC, and Fort Lee police said the new targeting of tickets will apply only to pedestrians who are jaywalking.
Gawker reported during the past two months117 jaywalkers have been ticketed. These tickets each carry an $85 fine.
This movement is being made as an attempt to increase pedestrian safety. While drivers of cars are sometimes the problem, Fort Lee police say sometimes accidents are the pedestrian's fault for not paying attention to his or her surroundings.
“It’s not always the driver’s fault,” Police Chief Thomas Ripoli said. “Pedestrians are not always aware; they’re not watching where they are walking.”
The police are actively pursuing pedestrians who cross against the light or who do not use crosswalks.
One of the other concerns are students, and police say the kids won't be exempt from being ticketed. The local high school is located on a road that sees fast-moving traffic during rush hour and safety is a concern.
“We want the students to be aware of their surroundings for their own safety,” Community Police Officer Mike Bialoblocki told The Record. Police are hoping the parents of students ticketed will make their children pay the fine themselves.
Motorists who do not yield right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks are also going to be more heavily targeted with the city's new initiative to increase pedestrian safety.
In 2012, in Fort Lee, N.J. so far 20 pedestrians have been hit by cars, three of which were fatal (one was a homicide). Last year saw 74 pedestrian accidents in the town, with two fatalities. Police want to reduce these statistics.
Texting has become one of the largest contributors to distracted driving. Officials note texting is "by far" the most "alarming" of all distractions.
Being that driving and texting is becoming a serious issue, with many states in the U.S. banning texting while driving, it is not surprising that walking and texting is also a growing problem.
Over the past several months there have been many documented (often on video) instances of people falling, walking into glass, and, in the case of one man who wasn't paying attention, almost walking into a large bear.
More about Texting, Jaywalking, Tickets, Fort Lee, New jersey
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