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0 Comments | Aug 03, 2017

The Debate Around Honolulu’s Pedestrian Cell Phone Law

Honolulu has passed a new law, going into effect on October 25th, that prohibits pedestrians from using phones or other devices when crossing the street. With fines of up to $35 for a first offense, and up to $99 for additional infractions, the measure is designed to keep pedestrians aware and safe.

The law has kicked off some interesting debates.  First is a question regarding the necessity of the law. Studies have shown that while cell phone related pedestrian injuries have risen over the past several years, the total number is still very low. Further, other factors, particularly road conditions and visibility, have played a much bigger role in causing accidents and injuries to pedestrians than cell phones have.

The other question stemming from this law is responsibility on the roadways. The law places accountability on pedestrians, but if cell phones aren’t really causing that many accidents, then the law won’t have much effect in terms of preventing injuries.

Going after pedestrian cell phone use is an easy target. We’ve all heard about people walking off cliffs while chasing Pokemon. We’ve all seen videos of people falling into open cellars. Realistically, pedestrians do need to be aware of their surroundings at all times, but these cases are outliers. A car moving 25 mph is going to do a lot more damage to a person than that person will do to the car, so motorists are just as responsible as pedestrians, if not more so.