In bid to protect pedestrians, lawmaker proposes cracking down o - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

In bid to protect pedestrians, lawmaker proposes cracking down on 'distracted walking'

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Hawaii has strict laws about distracted driving. Now, one lawmaker wants to hold pedestrians more accountable.

State Rep. Sharon Har has introduced a "distracted walking" bill, which would ban pedestrians from crossing a “street, road or highway while using a mobile electronic device." The penalty would be a $250 fine that would go to the state Highway Fund.

"It just is another measure to ensure the safety of our pedestrians," Har said, adding that Hawaii has the 13th-highest rate of pedestrian deaths in the nation.

One major hang-up for the bill: Enforcement. As currently written, the bill defines “use” or “using” as “utilizing any of the functions of a mobile electronic device." That means someone could be fined for using headphones while listening to music or using a Bluetooth function to connect to a wireless headset.

The bill was deferred in committee Wednesday morning for a week while Har and other lawmakers restructure the bill.

"We don't want to waste our resources," she said. "Obviously, police need to be focused on some of the more serious crimes."

She added the intent, whether or not it passes, is to continue a conversation on pedestrian safety.

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