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Should LA follow Honolulu’s example and start fining ‘cell phone zombies’?




A visitor texts before crossing the street in Waikiki Tuesday, October 24, 2017 in Honolulu, Hawaii. 
The Honolulu Police Department will start enforcing The City and County of Honolulu's newest law against looking or texting on your cell phone while using a crosswalk.
A visitor texts before crossing the street in Waikiki Tuesday, October 24, 2017 in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Honolulu Police Department will start enforcing The City and County of Honolulu's newest law against looking or texting on your cell phone while using a crosswalk.
EUGENE TANNER/AFP/Getty Images

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Honolulu police have started issuing tickets to “cell phone zombies” — the term used to describe pedestrians who cross the street while looking down at their phones.

The new law states that the only legal justification for anyone to use a cell phone while crossing an intersection would be to dial 911. Any other use could result in a fine ranging between $15 and $99, with repeat offenders landing on the latter end of the spectrum.

Though cities across the country have been trying to pass similar legislation for years, Honolulu is regarded as the first major location to do so successfully. According to the New York Times, since no definitive data associating distracted pedestrians with traffic deaths has been produced, most lawmakers have an uphill battle when trying to implement these rules.

As a way to circumnavigate these legislative roadblocks, cities are getting a little creative when coming up with incentives for people to look both ways. The Northern California city of Hayward has put up street signs that read “Heads Up! Cross the Street. Then Update Facebook,” and many northern european towns have installed LED lights into crosswalks in order to signal pedestrians who may be looking down.

Guest:

Tanya Mohn, a contributing reporter to the New York Times, who wrote about the new Honolulu law

Tanya is the sister of NPR’s CEO Jarl Mohn, who is an Honorary Life Trustee of KPCC. Previously, he also served as board chair for SCPR and through his Mohn Family Foundation, is one of SCPR’s leading donors.