“Zombies” who use their cellphones at crosswalks could be fined under proposed NY law

“Cell phone zombies” might start getting ticketed on the busy sidewalks of New York City if a proposed law in the New York state legislature gets passed.

Under the proposal, people crossing the street with their nose buried in their phone could face fines of between $25 to $250. The legislation targets people “using a portable electronic device while crossing a roadway,” and makes exceptions for emergency response and other medical personnel.

“[The bill] does not say you can’t talk on the phone,” the bill’s sponsor, New York state senator John Liu, told the Guardian. “We’re talking about handheld devices … you can wait the five seconds to get to the other side.”

New York state reports about 300 pedestrian fatalities a year, per statistics cited by the Guardian, but it’s unclear how many of those deaths are actually caused by people distracted by their phones. Lui says his law can significantly reduce fatalities.

The bill is already facing opposition. Marco Conner of Transportation Alternatives said a cellphone pedestrian law might turn into an instrument used by police to unfairly target racial groups. He also called the bill “victim blaming in disguise.”

Now the only question is whether the fine would triple for that extra-dangerous sort who uses a cellphone while also jaywalking.

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