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Petition Aims To Stop NJ Anti-Texting While Walking Law

"The punishment needs to be proportional to the crime," Wolverton said.
"The punishment needs to be proportional to the crime," Wolverton said. Photo Credit: COURTESY: Chris Wolverton

A petition with more than 8,200 signatures as of Monday morning urges New Jersey lawmakers to reject a proposed bill that would make texting while walking in the street a crime punishable by a $50 fine and up to 15 days in jail.

"Statistics show that texting while walking has caused fatal and injurious traffic accidents, and some heightened awareness could save lives. But criminalizing this behavior is too extreme, as are threats of jail time,” says Care2 petition author Chris Wolverton of Sussex County.

“I can't imagine crossing NJ's busy streets with my eyes glued to a phone. It's just irresponsible," Wolverton said. "But the punishment needs to be proportional to the crime."

Pedestrians would be banned from using hand-held devices on public roadways unless he or she “has reason to fear for his or her life or safety,” under the proposed law.

They can still text while on the sidewalk -- just not on a roadway that is “improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel,” the measure says.

A public awareness campaign on the dangers of distracted walking or a light fine for texting while in a crosswalk would be better uses of state resources, Wolverton said.

She also noted that the bill, as written, would give police license to discriminate.

“[The] law would likely disproportionately affect people of color and low-income folks, whose communities are already over-policed and over-criminalized,” Wolverton said.

VIEW THE CARE2 PETITION: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/607/991/450/

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