The bill's author says he got the idea from high school students
Opponents say the city council should focus on more pressing issues
Most states have banned texting while driving. But what about texting while walking?
The Honolulu City Council passed a bill Wednesday that prohibits pedestrians from looking at their mobile devices while they cross the street.
A pedestrian making a 911 call is exempted. Emergency responders performing official duties won’t face penalties either.
Otherwise, fines will range from $15 to $99, depending on how many times they flout the ban.
For and against
Brandon Elefante is the Honolulu city councilman who introduced Bill 6. He told CNN he got the idea from high school students.
“These high school groups were concerned for their peers being distracted while crossing the streets and looking at their phones instead of looking both ways,” Elefante said. “The advancement of technology can sometimes be a distraction and cause people to not pay attention.”
The City Council passed the bill 7-2.
One of those who voted against it is Councilman Ernie Martin. His reason? Over-legislation.
“Given the issues that Honolulu faces, such as homelessness and our rail project having a $3 billion deficit, there are more pressing matters that I’d prefer for us to focus on,” Martin told CNN. “I’ve always been very careful not to introduce legislation for issues that could be addressed through other means.”
The councilman said a public awareness campaign would be more effective.
“Teenagers are most influenced by their peers,” Martin told CNN. “A social media campaign would probably be more expansive than any legislation we pass.”
Up to the mayor
The bill now heads to Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. He has 10 business days to make his decision. But city spokesman Andrew Pereira said the mayor “has worked closely” with Elefante on the legislation.