Person walking while texting in Union Square


State Lawmakers Push Bill That Would Ban Texting While Walking

May 17, 2019 - 1:05 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — People distracted by their smartphones while crossing the street could soon face hefty fines in New York.

Assemblyman Felix Ortiz and State Sen. John Liu are sponsoring a bill that would fine people caught texting while crossing the street $25 to $50 for the first offense.

“The bill is not just about enforcement. It's really more to remind New Yorkers that ‘hey, crossing the street while texting is a really, really bad idea,’” Liu said.

Repeat offenders caught within an 18-month period could be fined up to $250 for each additional instance.

Still, New Yorkers seem more ambivalent.

“I think that’s just the habit. We’re all attached to our phones,” said 18-year-old Pace University student Mia Stella, “I think that regardless if there's laws on it...if you're gonna get fined, I think people are still gonna do it regardless.”

“I think it’s crazy, ridiculous,” said another resident, adding, “Those are the kind words.”

Ortiz introduced the bill last year saying that fines are sometimes necessary to ensure people break a bad, and sometimes dangerous habit.

“Sometimes people don’t take a person’s responsibility seriously,” he said. “We have seen so many pedestrians being hit by vehicles as a result.”

Similar laws have already been passed in smaller cities throughout Hawaii and California.

If the legislation passes, New York would become the first the ban texting while walking statewide.