Can you safely cross the street while listening to music?

7 02 2007

In the news today, New York State Senator Carl Kruger is wanting to fine people $100 for using any kind of portable electronic device while crossing the street.  He says this is because of three pedestrian deaths in his district, and the Government has an obligation to protect its citizens.  From the article :

Tech-consuming New Yorkers trudge to work on sidewalks and subways like an army of drones, appearing to talk to themselves on wireless devices or swaying to seemingly silent tunes. “I’m not trying to intrude on that,” Kruger said. “But what’s happening is when they’re tuning into their iPod or Blackberry or cell phone or video game, they’re walking into speeding buses and moving automobiles. It’s becoming a nationwide problem.”

Notice the political side-stepping — he’s “not trying to intrude” on them using their devices while crossing the street, except he wants to make it illegal.  HA!

I saw the headline on Slashdot, and one of the commenters made a great suggestion for improving the law :

Instead of unfairly penalizing those of us who can listen to music while crossing the street (and … chewing gum at the same time), why don’t you just make it illegal to get hit by a vehicle while crossing the street and using an electronic gadget?

Makes sense to me…  🙂

One notable absence from this discussion is the lack of non-electronic distractions they’re thinking of banning.  What about the people who read the newspaper while crossing the street?

But the bigger issue here is whether the government has to intervene every time a few people aren’t responsible enough to be careful.  It shouldn’t require disclaimers for people to realize that listening to music or playing a portable video game makes crossing the street more dangerous.  Or do we need to start teaching this in schools?  Either way, I don’t think it’s the government’s place to legislate this kind of thing.

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2 responses

8 02 2007
DisarmingTheHeart

I agree that you should not be using some electronic devices while crossing the street.

As an example, many people saw one of the pedestrians about to walk into the traffic. They yelled to warn him, but he could not hear them and he died in the accident, which presumably could have been prevented if he had not been listening to his ipod and could have heard the warnings.

Obviously if you are listening to music with earphones, you are hindering your ability to cross the street safely. Thus you shouldn’t do it, but that doesn’t mean it should be regulated by law.

I think it would be a disaster if they did try to regulate it. How will an onlooking officer know if you have the volume muted or not? Is the law going to say that you cannot even have the earphones in your ears? Or the PDA in your hand? This is too tough to call.

I don’t think this will pass…

11 02 2007
Sambo

Everytime you make a new law–you make a whole new class of law breakers!!!!! This is just another case of BIG GOVERNMENT trying to baby sit its citizens.

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