City Council: Get off the phone! (when you're crossing the street)

City Council: Get off the phone! (when you're crossing the street)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Drivers are already banned from using their phones behind the wheel. Now, the City Council wants to crack down on distracted walkers.

A bill heading to its final reading would make it illegal to cross a street or highway while looking at a mobile electronic device.

Bill 6 unanimously passed the Public Health, Safety and Welfare Committee on Tuesday on its second reading, and now only needs the OK of the full council before heading to the mayor's desk.

The only testimony on the bill Tuesday was from the Honoluu Police Department.

The agency said the language in the bill can be enforced, but that officers would start issuing citations after a period of public education.

The bill calls for violators to be cited, but doesn't say how much the fine would be.

And it defines a "mobile electronic device" as anything from a smart phone to a video game player to a pager to a laptop.

The law wouldn't apply if you're trying to call 911.

"Distracted walking" has been a hot button issue in recent years, as cities look to figure out how to address the phenomenon of people glued to their phones at all times — sometimes, at their own peril.

And, proponents of such laws argue it's no laughing matter: Pedestrian deaths have risen in recent years, though statistics on distracted walking deaths are hard to come by.

Last year, a state lawmaker proposed a "distracted driving" bill, but it didn't make it far. Similar proposals in other states have also failed.

Council members will meet on Wednesday at Honolulu Hale at 10 a.m. for those who would like to weigh in.

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