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Heads up! Distracted walking could land NJ residents a fine or even jail time if bill passes

A woman is distracted by her cellphone while walking.
A woman is distracted by her cellphone while walking.
Jorge Gonzalez/Flickr

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We’ve all seen this person walking down the street, head buried in a smartphone screen, headphones firmly inserted into ears, and paying exactly zero attention to the rest of the world.

A New Jersey lawmaker has proposed a bill that, if passed, would treat distracted walking the same way jaywalking is treated in the Garden State: a $50 fine, 15 days in jail, or both. Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington) says the risks posed by a distracted walker are the same ones jaywalkers pose, so they should be treated similarly. Other states have proposed similar laws but thus far, none have passed.

The Governors Highway Safety Association released a report earlier this month showing pedestrian deaths went up ten percent in 2015 despite a 4 percent decrease in overall traffic deaths.