You'll Never Believe What's About to Become Illegal in Honolulu
Hint: It's something almost everyone has done at some point in their lives.
In Honolulu, "watch where you're going" is about to become the law. Starting Wednesday, pedestrians looking at their electronic devices while crossing the street can now be fined up to $35 dollars by police, making Honolulu the first major city to attempt such a ban.
Whether you're trying to squeeze a few extra lunch minutes in by doing some work on the way, or just have to order ahead on your way home, those glued to their phones are suspected to be a cause for rising pedestrian death tolls, which rose nine percent last year to reach 5,987, the highest American total since 1990. While, according to the New York Times, there's not enough research to conclusively link "cellphone zombies" to the rise, a World Health Organization Director says preliminary studies show it could be a global problem. Which, to anyone who's ever had their mobile Twitter experience interrupted by the extremely-humbling sensation of walking into another person on the street, is probably not a shock.
The Honolulu ban, which will be enforced in the city and its surrounding country area, is the first for a city of its size, though Rexburg, Idaho may have become the first American city to try a similar policy back in 2011. The 35,000 resident city recorded five pedestrian deaths in a concentrated area, and in response banned pedestrians from using hand-held devices for anything other than talking while crossing public streets, which, the Times reports, reduced pedestrian fatalities to zero.
While the stakes are lower, the explosion of public phone usage and its distractions has become as much of an issue indoors as out. Last week, a Singapore McDonalds began offering a phone locker meant to help facilitate distraction-free family time, while restaurants around the world are trying everything from "designated cell phone areas" to offering discounts for customers who give up their phones for a meal. Though unlike Honolulu ban, they won't be enforced by cops.