Chicago aldermen seek to ban texting while walking across the street

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Pedestrians who are caught crossing the street while using a mobile device in Chicago may face fines under a new ordinance proposed Wednesday.

Under the measure proposed by Ald. Edward Burke (14th) and Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), violators would face fines ranging from $90 to $500 per occurrence.

“The goal of the introduction of this measure is to reduce pedestrian deaths and injuries, especially at crosswalks,” Alderman Burke said.

In Chicago, 27 pedestrians have already been killed in the first half of 2017, an increase of one death during the same period last year, according to data presented to the Mayor Rahm Emanuel by the Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

“Passage and enforcement of this new law would increase safety by eliminating distractions for pedestrians at intersections and elsewhere in the City of Chicago,” Alderman Beale added.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people who text and walk are nearly four times more likely to engage in at least one dangerous action, like jaywalking or not looking both ways, and take 18 percent more time to cross a street than undistracted pedestrians.

“In the United States pedestrian deaths in 2016 spiked 9 percent from the year before, rising to 5,987 which is the highest toll on American roads since 1990,” according to a preamble to the ordinance.

Other American states and municipalities have already taken action in this area. Honolulu and San Mateo County have banned cell phone usage in crosswalks. California will consider a statewide ban in January of 2018, and New York City is reviewing its educational efforts aimed at educating the public about “distracted walking.”