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Bergen County town bans texting while walking

Most New Jersey residents are well aware of the dangers of texting while driving. But texting while walking? The only possible danger of that, it seems, is to gain notoriety after the video of the walker falling into a fountain or walking into a tree goes viral on YouTube.

But according to the police chief of Fort Lee, New Jersey, texting while walking can actually have fatal consequences. Since January of this year, he says, there have been two dozen pedestrian accidents caused by 'distracted walking,' resulting in several injuries and three deaths. After attempts to educate the public on this dangerous behavior have gone unnoticed, he is now taking a harsher approach: ticketing pedestrians for texting or emailing while they walk down the streets of Fort Lee.

Although the new procedure has been the target of some ridicule in New Jersey and across the country, Fort Lee Police Chief Thomas Ripoli stands behind his decision. "They're not alert," he said, "and they're not watching what they're doing."

Under current law, police officers can ticket pedestrians who do not comply with traffic lights and crosswalks. It is unclear whether they would be able to ticket distracted walkers who are adhering to lights and crosswalks, or if the new procedure would use some other law to issue tickets to people who text while walking.

What do you think? Is distracted walking a problem that is severe enough to warrant tickets and fines?

If you have been injured in a car or pedestrian accident caused by a distracted driver, please contact Breslin & Breslin for a free consultation.

Source: CBS, "Fort Lee, N.J. Cracking Down On 'Dangerous Walking' By Handing Out Summonses," May 10, 2012

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