Hawaii-Bound? Look Both Ways and Remember This New Law

Aug 1, 2017

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Travelers to Hawaii, take note: You might end up with a fine for looking at your phone at the wrong time. In what seems to be the first law of its kind, Honolulu just made it illegal to “cross a street or highway while viewing a mobile electronic device.”

The law goes into effect October 25. After that point, if a police officer catches you glancing at a smartphone, tablet or even your “digital photographic device” while crossing the street, you may be fined between $15 and $35. Repeat offenders will get larger fines: $35 to $75 for the second offense and $75 to $99 for the third and subsequent violations.

While so-called “crosswalk zombies” are an issue in many cities, it seems Hawaii has a particularly bad problem. At the bill-signing ceremony — held at a busy intersection — Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said, “We hold the unfortunate distinction of being a major city with more pedestrians being hit in crosswalks, particularly our seniors, than almost any other city in the county.”

As he signed the bill into law, the mayor noted his disappointment with the need for this law: “Sometimes I wish there were laws we did not have to pass, that perhaps common sense would prevail, but sometimes we lack common sense.”

According to a University of Maryland study, more than 11,000 injuries resulted from phone-related distraction while walking in the United States between 2000 and 2011. With our ever-growing dependence on our phones for navigating and staying connected, it’s very likely that these stats will grow at an even faster pace.

While Honolulu is trying to stop this common activity, other cities have adapted crosswalks to keep pedestrians safe even when they aren’t paying attention. The German city of Augsburg and the Dutch city of Bodegraven, for instance, have installed colored lights on the ground around crosswalks so folks will know when it’s time to stop and go.

What do you think of Honolulu’s new law? Sound off, below.

H/T: Reuters

Featured image courtesy of Snedorez via Getty Images.

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