Distracted Pedestrians Might Have to Pay Up

Two states have proposed legislation that would ban texting at crosswalks.

ByABC News
January 25, 2011, 9:35 AM

Jan. 25, 2011— -- Many pedestrians pay more attention to their phones and portable media players than their safety while crossing streets. New York State Senator Carl Kruger said recently, for instance, that two people died in his Brooklyn district because they were distracted on the street by personal electronic devices.

"A gentleman was standing on the corner ready to cross the street wired into his iPod, he crosses over and walks right into an NYC bus," Kruger, a Democrat, said.

After the incident, lawmakers turned their attention to increasing safety for pedestrians with electronic devices. New York and Arkansas have proposed legislation that would ban the use of portable electronic devices and cell phones at crosswalks. If caught, violators could be fined $100.

Cathy Cruz Marrero, the Pennsylvania woman who fell into a mall fountain recently while texting, not only learned her lesson but passed along some words of wisdom.

"Don't text and walk," Marrero said to "Good Morning America" last week.

Her situation may seem funny but, in some cases, it's no laughing matter.

Nationally, pedestrian fatalities account for about 12 percent of overall traffic deaths, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. There was a slight increase in 2010 after four straight years of a steady decline.

In Hilton Head, S.C., Robert Gary Jones died in March when a glider plane crashed-landed on the beach while he was jogging. Investigators believe he never heard it approach because he was listening to an electronic devise.

But aviation expert Mary Schiavo said Jones was unlikely to hear the plane with or without music playing in his ears.

"There's no noise," Schiavo, a former inspector general for the National Transportation Safety Board, told the Associated Press. "So the jogger, with his ear buds in, and the plane without an engine, you're basically a stealth aircraft. Who would expect to look up?"

Jones was exercising during a business trip and was looking forward to returning home that week for his daughter's third birthday party.