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First Honolulu, now Chicago could hit texting walkers with fines of up to $500

chicago texting walkers 500 fine distracted
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Has Honolulu started something?

Just weeks after the Hawaiian city started fining folks caught looking at their smartphone while crossing the street, officials in Chicago have made similar proposals.

But while in Honolulu the fines starts at $35 for a first offense before topping out at $99 for a third transgression, lawmakers in the Windy City are suggesting fines of between $90 and a whopping $500.

Five hundred bucks! You could buy half an iPhone X for that.

Distracted walking is believed to be the cause of an increasing number of accidents, and staring at your smartphone while sauntering along the street — or indeed across the street — is certainly one way to increase your chances of an unwanted collision.

Two elected officials in Chicago, Edward Burke and Anthony Beale, have co-sponsored an ordinance proposing the fines, Chicago’s Fox32 reports.

The ordinance states: “No person shall cross a street or highway while using a mobile electronic device in a manner that averts their visual attention to that device or that device’s activity.”

Burke told Fox32, “The goal of the introduction of this measure is to reduce pedestrian deaths and injuries, especially at crosswalks.”

Beale added that the passage and enforcement of the proposed law “would increase safety by eliminating distractions for pedestrians at intersections and elsewhere in the city of Chicago.”

The ordinance still has to pass a number of stages to become law, so for the time being at least, Chicago’s pedestrians can continue to look at their phone while crossing the street, secure in the knowledge that they won’t be emptying their wallet when they get to the other side. They’d just better hope they don’t get taken down by a bus while doing so.

Traffic lights and texting lanes

The problem of distracted walking isn’t just an issue for officials in the U.S.

Stopping short of imposing fines, cities in Germany and Australia have have fitted ground-level traffic lights at crossings in the hope that pedestrians lost in their smartphones will spot them as they go to cross.

Other initiatives to cut down on sidewalk collisions include the introduction of “texting lanes” in cities such as Antwerp, Belgium and Chongqing, China.

Our advice? Stop walking when you need to look at your smartphone screen, or else something horrible like this might happen.

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Trevor Mogg
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