First came bans on distracted driving. Now, one city is ending distracted walking

A newly passed Honolulu ordinance bans crossing the street while looking at your smartphone, video game or other mobile electronic device.

The “Distracted Walking” ordinance sets fines of $15 to $35 for first offenses, $35 to $75 for second offenses within the same year, and $75 to $99 for third offenses within the same year. It covers smartphones, pagers, tablets, personal digital assistants, laptops, handheld video games and digital cameras, but not audio equipment.

People making emergency calls are exempt and you can still walk on the sidewalk while staring at your phone. For now.

The ban goes into effect Oct. 25 following an informational campaign.

“Sometimes I wish there were laws we did not have to pass, that perhaps common sense would prevail,” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell in a Facebook Live video Thursday. “But sometimes we lack common sense.”

The National Safety Council says distracted walking incidents accounted for more than 11,000 injuries in the U.S. between 2000 and 2011. A study found 52 percent of phone-related accidents happen at home, and 68 percent of those injured are women. People ages 40 and under account for 54 percent of the incidents, and 80 percent of injuries involve falls.

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