Honolulu, Hawaii Becomes First Major U.S. City to Ban Smartphone Use While Walking

Walk around the downtown of any city or town in Florida or anywhere else in the United States, no matter how large or small, and you are likely to see pedestrians glued to their smartphones, texting, reading or sending emails, checking Facebook or using some other app. As much as smart phones may have improved our ability to connect with one another, they have also made the most pedestrian of activities–walking–more hazardous for both pedestrians as well as motorists. The phenomenon of the pedestrian crossing a street against a light while glued to their smartphone, oblivious to oncoming traffic, is by now ubiquitous. Everyone has had a near miss where you’re driving and the pedestrian looks up just in time to avoid an accident or, worse yet, you may have been that pedestrian texting and crossing against the “Don’t Walk” light. It also is causing an increasing number of collisions and accidents involving pedestrians. Indeed, the phenomenon has become so common that some cities are now attempting to fight the problem through fining pedestrians for the use of smartphones while walking.

Honolulu Becomes First Major U.S. City to Ban Texting and Walking

According to a recent report in the New York Times, pedestrians texting or using their phones while walking has become such a hazard that cities are taking steps to outlaw the practice. For instance, Honolulu recently became the first major U.S. city to extend the ban to pedestrians after its City Council passed an ordinance in July. Under that law, any pedestrian who is caught crossing a street while “viewing” a cellphone can be fined between $15 and $35. Repeat offenders of the ban can be fined up to $99.

The Times article further notes that a 2015 study in the Journal of Safety Studies found that, between the years 2000 and 2007, fewer than 400 pedestrians were injured in the United States each year due to accidents caused by pedestrians being distracted by their cell phones. However, after the introduction of Apple’s original iPhone in 2007 which kicked off the smartphone revolution, an estimated 1,300 pedestrians were injured in 2012 while walking around absorbed in their cell phones. Comparable figures for more recent years, while not yet compiled, are no doubt higher. National safety and accident prevention organization, the National Safety Council, added “distracted walking” to its annual list of injury risks in 2015.

Pedestrian Duties When Interacting with Motor Vehicles under Florida Law

Many frustrated drivers in the downtown areas of Florida’s cities and towns often may curse pedestrians glued to their smartphones who cross the street against the light, forcing the driver to slam on his or brakes. Although many people may not realize it, pedestrians, just like drivers, have certain duties under Florida law. For instance, pedestrians have a general duty under Florida law to exercise reasonable caution when crossing roads or interacting with cars and other motor vehicles. In addition, under Florida Statutes Section 316.130, pedestrians have specified laws they must obey. First, pedestrians must obey all laws applicable to non-vehicles. For example, a pedestrian is required to obey any traffic device specifically applicable to the pedestrian unless otherwise directed by a police officer. Therefore, if a pedestrian crosses against a light, he or she is violating this statutory provision. Pedestrians are also required to obey any traffic control signals at all intersections. Therefore, a pedestrian crossing against the light is technically violating the law in Florida. Therefore, pedestrians are not without their own duties under Florida law when it comes to their interactions with cars and other motor vehicles in the state. These laws apply regardless of whether the pedestrian is on his or her smartphone or not.

Contact Schwed Adams Sobel & McGinley if You Are Involved in An Accident with a Pedestrian Who is Ignoring His or Her Duties Under Florida Law

Although many drivers may not know it, there are rules of the road that apply to pedestrians just like there are traffic and other laws that apply to motorists. If the pedestrian is glued to his or her smartphone, then the pedestrian may be at fault if he or she causes an accident with a motorist and the motorist is injured. If you have been injured in Florida due to the carelessness or inattentiveness of a pedestrian glued to his or her smartphone, then contact the experienced personal injury attorneys of Schwed Adams Sobel & McGinley today at contact@schwedlaw.com or (877) 694-6079 for a free consultation regarding your legal rights today. At Schwed, Adams, Sobel & McGinley, our experienced personal injury attorneys have represented clients who have been seriously injured in a variety of different scenarios, including pedestrian-caused accidents. The experienced personal injury attorneys of our firm have over 150 years of combined legal experience representing accident victims throughout Florida and we would love to be your attorney if you have been injured in an accident involving a pedestrian who was walking and not paying attention.

Copyright: william87 / 123RF Stock Photo