Two States Considering Outlawing Texting While Walking

New York and Arkansas don’t have much in common but they are both considering measures designed to prevent pedestrians from ‘walking while distracted’:

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Lawmakers in at least two states are looking to pull the plug on texting pedestrians and iPod-obsessed runners, claiming their diverted attention borders on disaster.

After targeting drivers who paid more attention to their phone calls and text messages than the road, lawmakers in Arkansas and New York are now looking to crack down on pedestrians equally distracted by their own electronic gadgets.

Lawmakers in both states have proposed restrictions on using cell phones and music players such as iPods by people running and walking on the street or sidewalk. The apparent message: Distracted pedestrians are dangerous.

“It’s not just distracted drivers. We focus a lot on distracted drivers, but we also need to focus on distracted walkers and joggers,” said Jonathan Adkins, a spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association, a nonprofit organization representing state highway safety offices.

The proposal in Arkansas would ban pedestrians from wearing headphones in both ears while on, parallel or adjacent to a street, road, intersection or highway. The measure also applies to runners and cyclists and would allow pedestrians to wear headphones in one ear.

“You might not get the full effect of the Boston Symphony Orchestra with one ear, but you at least will be aware of your surroundings,” said Sen. Jimmy Jeffress, a Democrat from Crossett who proposed the legislation.

Democratic State Sen. Carl Kruger in New York has been trying since 2007 to ban the use of cell phones, iPods and other gadgets by pedestrians in major cities while crossing the street. The proposal would ban the use of an electronic device while crossing the crosswalk in a city with a population of one million or more. Violators would face a $100 civil fine.

The only question I have to ask it how it could possibly be a good use of resources to have police walking around looking for people sending email on their Crackberries.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. largebill says:

    Beyond stupid. No new laws until they wipe half of the current ones off the books.

  2. Matt says:

    The Arkansas bill has already been pulled, after much vitriol and scorn was launched upon the genius who proposed it.

  3. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    “The only question I have to ask it how it could possibly be a good use of resources to have police walking around looking for people sending email on their Crackberries.”

    This is why I don’t have texting on my phone. I have enough trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time.

  4. Ernieyeball says:

    PLEEEEASE JEEESUS STOP THEM! B 4 someone gets hurt! OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!!!…oh no wait…COMMIT THEM TO MENTAL INSTITUTIONS!!!…Damn can’t do that either!!!…yes…yes…LET’S VOTE THEM OUT OF OFFICE!!!…WE CAN DO THAT!!!
    But we won’t.
    (In elections held on Nov. 2, 2010, 390 incumbent House members ran for reelection and 51 were defeated. Therefore 86.9% of House incumbents won reelection.)

  5. Andrew says:

    Of course this Bill (Legislation) is proposed by two Democrat Senators. Democrats motto “If we don’t like it, outlaw it” or “Do as I say, not as I do” I wish people would wake up and realize how far left the Democrats have turned. Laws and legislation like this almost border Nazism. WAKE UP PEOPLE!

  6. mantis says:

    Laws and legislation like this almost border Nazism.

    Please elaborate on the similarities.

  7. Maka says:

    I don’t need the law to keep myself aware of my surroundings while walking. Actually, when I’m crossing the street or walking alone at night I always remove my headphones from my ears so I won’t be distracted. I think this is common sense.

  8. ironpossum says:

    But Maka, don’t you see?? If it’s common sense, then you won’t mind that they make it a law because it’s just helping every other dolt that can’t think for themselves to be on the same playing field as you! So please, think of the fools that throw away their freedoms so they can continue not to have to think – because if you deny them this law, you deny them their fair chance to survive! …

    …Well, before I choke on my sarcasm, this bill is absolutely ridiculous. What happened to the freedom to make your own decisions? If you want to take the risk of getting run over because you don’t want to pay attention when crossing the road, by all means go ahead, get run over. Survival of the fittest!

    By what right does the government have to impose a law for this? It makes no sense. None at all.

  9. sam says:

    “I think this is common sense.”

    As does anyone with a brain. I will say this, though, I fully expect some moron to step off a curb without looking, because said moron is texting, get whacked by an oncoming car. No manmade law you could pass will prevent that. Darwin is our only hope.

  10. Andrew says:

    @mantis – This borders on Nazism because a law like this is saying (Sending Messages) to the people the same thing Hitler and his rules & regulations (LAWS) sent to his people “We the Government will think for you, there is no need or reason for you to think for yourself.”

    If we need Democrats to draw up laws that will “OUTLAW” an individual from walking and texting or running and listening to music God help us because we are doomed. I mean one would think that since we have 25 states that still don’t require individuals to wear helmets while riding motorcycles the concerned Democrats would address this issue first. If you are going to try and argue the fact that this proposed legislation is not a Ridiculous Democrat Power Trip, you need to address your own issues. Listen it’s this simple:

    If you DO NOT believe in my God, don’t read the Bible
    If you DO NOT like to drink beer, don’t drink Beer
    If you DO NOT like guns, don’t buy or shoot one
    If you DO NOT gamble, don’t go to a casino

    Because Democrats DO NOT like these things does not mean that they need to draw up legislation to prevent others from enjoying them. Government needs to stay out of the business of micro managing the people that pay their outrageous salaries.

  11. Grant says:

    The problem is that someone texting and walking gets hit by a car after walking out in from of it then that person sues the drive or anyone else because they are stupid. Just like the woman who fell into a mall water fountain and felt the security team should have helped her sooner so she is suing the mall.

    Whatever happened to personal responsibility, I blame parents…