Honolulu passes law that makes texting while crossing the street illegal

The law bans the use of mobile electronic devices when crossing the street.

ByABC News
October 25, 2017, 7:29 AM

— -- Pedestrians pulling out their cell phone when crossing the street better be ready to pull out their wallets as well.

A new law taking effect today in Honolulu has now made it illegal to text while you are crossing the street.

Pedestrians in Hawaii's state capital who cross a street or highway while using a mobile electronic device can be slammed with a fine of up to $35 for their first offense, according to the law.

"While we have laws in place for our motorists and our bicyclists, now it’s a shared responsibility for pedestrians as well, to really pay attention as they cross the street," Councilman Brandon Elefante, who introduced bill, told the Associated Press in July.

PHOTO: A pedestrian crosses Kalakaua Avenue talking on her cell phone, Oct. 24, 2017 in Honolulu.
A pedestrian crosses Kalakaua Avenue talking on her cell phone, Oct. 24, 2017 in Honolulu. The Honolulu Police Department will start enforcing the City and County of Honolulu's newest law against looking or texting on your cell phone while using a crosswalk.
Eugene Tanner/AFP/Getty Images

Distracted walking involving cell phones accounted for an estimated 11,101 injuries between 2000 and 2011, according to 2015 data released by the National Safety Council. On the Pedestrian Safety page of its website, the National Safety Council states that "distracted walking incidents are on the rise, and everyone with a cell phone is at risk."

Preliminary data released this year in a report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) projects an 11 percent increase in the number of pedestrians killed on U.S. roadways in 2016 compared to 2015. The association also reported a 9 percent increase in pedestrian deaths in 2015 compared to 2014.

“This is the second year in a row that we have seen unprecedented increases in pedestrian fatalities, which is both sad and alarming,” Richard Retting, who authored the GHSA report "Spotlight on Highway Safety" said in a statement. “It is critical that the highway safety community understand these disturbing statistics and work to aggressively implement effective countermeasures. The information in this report will help states and localities pursue engineering, enforcement and education solutions to reverse this trend.”

A second violation of the Honolulu ordinance will cost you as much as $75 and each subsequent violation would bring as much as a $99 fine.

The law includes fines not just for cell phone use, but for use of video games, laptop computers or digital cameras. It does not include audio equipment, so those with headphones on as they walk the city need not worry.