Letter to the Editor | Give distracted pedestrians a fine

Letter to the Editor | Give distracted pedestrians a fine

Sorry, but "lead-footed motorists" are only one side of a two-way street when considering motorist-pedestrian accidents ("Slow It Down on Lincoln," May 28).

Safety measures such as painted crosswalks, blinking lights, signage and center medians have done little — locally and nationally — to lower the number of motorist-pedestrian "encounters," and it seems unlikely that reducing the speed limit and spending tens of thousands more to build pedestrian islands and bumpouts will improve the situation either.

Why's that? Because pedestrians, by and large, ignore safety features and oncoming traffic, focusing their attention, instead, on texting and talking on phones.

This behavior largely accounts for the ever-increasing — not decreasing — number of pedestrian deaths and injuries each year.

Rather than continue to invest vast sums of money on safety features that are virtually ignored, it might be wiser to join the growing number of cities who have decided to place some of the responsibility for pedestrian safety at the feet of the pedestrians themselves.

In Billings, Mont., Pomona Valley, Calif., and Charleston, S.C., police have been authorized to ticket pedestrians who jaywalk and cross streets while on phones.

In Ft. Lee, N.J., if you're caught crossing streets while on a phone, expect an $85 fine.

Last year, Honolulu passed the Distracted Walking Law, which bans texting in crosswalks.

Los Angeles and New York City are currently considering jail time for distracted walkers.

Ticketing jaywalkers and irresponsible phone users might be the most effective, fastest working and least expensive way to modify pedestrian behavior — and save lives.

CAROL MIZRAHI

Champaign

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