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Honolulu Targets 'Smartphone Zombies' With Crosswalk Ban (reuters.com) 170

Templer421 shares news from Reuters: A ban on pedestrians looking at mobile phones or texting while crossing the street will take effect in Hawaii's largest city in late October, as Honolulu becomes the first major U.S. city to pass legislation aimed at reducing injuries and deaths from "distracted walking." The ban comes as cities around the world grapple with how to protect phone-obsessed "smartphone zombies" from injuring themselves by stepping into traffic or running into stationary objects. Starting Oct. 25, Honolulu pedestrians can be fined between $15 and $99, depending on the number of times police catch them looking at a phone or tablet device as they cross the street, Mayor Kirk Caldwell told reporters gathered near one of the city's busiest downtown intersections on Thursday... People making calls for emergency services are exempt from the ban... Opponents of the Honolulu law argued it infringes on personal freedom and amounts to government overreach.
Meanwhile, the city of London has tried putting pads on their lamp posts "to soften the blow for distracted walkers."
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Honolulu Targets 'Smartphone Zombies' With Crosswalk Ban

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  • by Baron_Yam ( 643147 ) on Sunday July 30, 2017 @10:14AM (#54908677)

    If you can't pull your eyes away from your phone long enough to safely cross a street... whoever hits you is helping Darwin and they're the one and only person getting my sympathy.

    Legislation SHOULD be passed... freeing the motorist from liability.

    • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Sunday July 30, 2017 @10:21AM (#54908697) Homepage Journal

      The problem with laws like this is that they're useless and backwards. Pedestrians looking at their phones while crossing the street aren't a problem. They cross the street, and they're done. The problem is people unintentionally crossing a street while looking at their phones. It's the sidewalk that's dangerous, because people who are looking down at their phones don't necessarily realize when the sidewalk ends and the road begins.

      • I see it constantly in the city. Head down, crossing, cars waiting n honking, they just keep going. I mean if you mow them over, sure you get 10,000pts but also you end up in a news article of man mows over innocent pedestrian and your name is plastered everywhere.
        • I see it constantly in the city. Head down, crossing, cars waiting n honking, they just keep going. I mean if you mow them over, sure you get 10,000pts but also you end up in a news article of man mows over innocent pedestrian and your name is plastered everywhere.

          So your concern is that increasing publicity decreases the likelihood of scoring points in the future? :D

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Bullshit. Inattentive pedestrians are the problem here. If you need to check the phone, STOP FOR A GODDAMN SECOND! If you walk without looking where the fuck you're going, whatever happens, you have no one to blame but yourself.

      • I don't know what kind of cities those people live in, but around here the streets are black and the sidewalks aren't. If that big of a difference doesn't register in your peripheral vision when you're looking down at your phone while walking, I don't know what will.

      • by Gussington ( 4512999 ) on Sunday July 30, 2017 @11:05PM (#54911685)

        (people) looking at their phones while crossing the street aren't a problem. .

        the problem is people crossing a street while looking at their phones

        . Wait. What?

        It's the sidewalk that's dangerous, because people who are looking down at their phones don't necessarily realize when the sidewalk ends and the road begins.

        Our council has installed flashing red lights embedded into the road right on the kerbside [smh.com.au] specifically to target screen zombies. It still doesn't help.
        The problem is absolutely people concentrating on their devices instead of the potential danger around them. I ride a motorbike and I almost hit these people every_single_day. I've actually broken my horn button from using it so much to get these fuckwits to pay attention.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

          Our council has installed flashing red lights embedded into the road right on the kerbside specifically to target screen zombies. It still doesn't help.
          The problem is absolutely people concentrating on their devices instead of the potential danger around them. I ride a motorbike and I almost hit these people every_single_day. I've actually broken my horn button from using it so much to get these fuckwits to pay attention.

          The mayor of a local suburban city nearly mowed down a pedestrian who just stepped out

      • The problem is people unintentionally crossing a street while looking at their phones. It's the sidewalk that's dangerous, because people who are looking down at their phones don't necessarily realize when the sidewalk ends and the road begins.

        That's called natural selection.

    • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday July 30, 2017 @10:43AM (#54908821) Journal
      The goal is to protect the motorist. Even if the pedestrian completely deserved to be removed from the gene pool, accidentally killing someone who walks into the street is quite traumatic and the idiots looking at their phones shouldn't have the right to inflict that on a random stranger.
      • It's worth noting the fault tends to the get directed at the driver as well.

      • by MrKaos ( 858439 )
        +++Insightful
      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        The goal is to protect the motorist. Even if the pedestrian completely deserved to be removed from the gene pool, accidentally killing someone who walks into the street is quite traumatic and the idiots looking at their phones shouldn't have the right to inflict that on a random stranger.

        Not to mention my insurance. If they cant get money from the other party because they're dead or permanently disabled and unable to work... I have to pay and possibly lose my NCD.

        Beyond that, most pedestrians wont die, rather they'll have a debilitating injury or disability that will make them a burden on the rest of us.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      They should leave it legal to use cross-walks like they do but deny E.R. services to anyone injured while doing it. And of course have that person or their estate automatically be held responsible for paying for any damages done to any vehicle/passengers that hits them while they do it.

    • now why is it I can't safely cross a street when I've got right of way? I got hit about 5 years ago carrying my bike across a street with the little blue guy telling me to cross. It was a cross walk seldom used by pedestrians since I had ridden out pretty far on my bike and was gonna go back the way I came. It didn't cross the woman who hit me's mind that somebody would ever cross there, so when the light turned red she just kept going...
      • I find that in my suburbs along the major roads that there are a lot of people who don't expect there to be pedestrians using the crosswalks with the lights. At least a couple of times a year I'll nearly get hit by some person turning right as I'm going to go straight across. Sometimes the ones that see me in time to stop get upset because I interrupted their lives.

        • by mea2214 ( 935585 )
          Same here in Chicago. Nobody stops at stop signs and drivers demand pedestrians stop at a crosswalk so they don't have to. Police never give out tickets so people drive however the fuck they want. I see this thread has been hijacked by the reckless driving crowd too.
          • It's depressing the number of people who are on here that think people should die just because they are doing something stupid. I wish I could believe that they are making a stupid remark but given the changes in the world the last five years there have some truly awful people crawling out from the stones they were living.

            • by Whibla ( 210729 )

              The number of posters who actually think people should die (for doing something stupid) is, in reality, probably very small. The number of posters who think the aforementioned people should stop doing the something stupid is much much higher, because if those people don't stop they will end up dying, and it will be their own fault.

              Furthermore, in carrying out their stupid suicides they may well 'cause' serious emotional trauma in the other person(s) involved. Nobody in their right mind wants to run someone

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        now why is it I can't safely cross a street when I've got right of way? I got hit about 5 years ago carrying my bike across a street with the little blue guy telling me to cross. It was a cross walk seldom used by pedestrians since I had ridden out pretty far on my bike and was gonna go back the way I came. It didn't cross the woman who hit me's mind that somebody would ever cross there, so when the light turned red she just kept going...

        Well, you may have the right of way, which only helps you if you file

    • by dk20 ( 914954 )

      i see these sort of people all the time.. so focused on their phone they are not paying attention to what is going on around them.
      Be it busy downtown streets, train stations.. places you might want to pay some attention to avoid personal injury.

      I've always been curious as to just what is so interesting that it cant wait 30 seconds for them to cross the street safely??

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      If you can't pull your eyes away from your phone long enough to safely cross a street... whoever hits you is helping Darwin and they're the one and only person getting my sympathy.

      Legislation SHOULD be passed... freeing the motorist from liability.

      As a man who has just picked up a new 2 series (and paid his insurance) Darwin wont help me when a careless zombie embeds themself in my engine bay. You cant really get money from a dead person (who probably has more debts than savings by an order of magnitude).

    • by syn3rg ( 530741 )
      Instead of padding, perhaps iron poles extending across the crosswalk at ~5' height should be installed. These should prevent most of these accidents, as face-planting a metal pole usually snaps one into situational awareness.

      ...and cameras to capture the hilarity.
  • and it's not just a problem with millennials. I see old ass people like me staring at their devices while they walk as well.

    If you're not smart enough to pay attention to what's going on around you in a BUSY GODDAMN CITY LIKE BOSTON, then you don't belong in the gene pool.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    So I grew up in the 1950's, when there was one phone company in the whole of the United States, and phones were large, heavy, corded objects.

    I'm all for the mobile revolution, except in certain particulars. Of course not all phone users do these things, but plenty enough to instill what I see as a significant negative cultural impact:

    - People go out to socialize with others, but they don't. They are all heads-down in their phones, ignoring the people they are with, or at best, Facebooking back and forth

    • People's attention spans have fallen to that of a gnat due to the constant need to check their social media updates.

      This is deeply offensive. According to this well-respected source [quora.com], gnats have the deliberate-continuity advantage at 3.4 seconds. So, take your comment back, bzzzzzzz!

  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Sunday July 30, 2017 @10:33AM (#54908773)

    Meanwhile, the city of London has tried putting pads on their lamp posts "to soften the blow for distracted walkers."

    In response to American football players being injured, they developed better helmet technology to soften the blow. This resulted in football players hitting each other harder, which we now suspect has led to endemic CTE among football players [wikipedia.org].

    The more effective solution would be to electrify the lamp posts so they give you a safe but unpleasant shock if you walk into them (since apparently the blow isn't enough to discourage people from not watching where they are going). OTOH, if you wish to accept that people are going to text while on the sidewalk but wish to avoid collisions, the better solution is a moving walkway [wikipedia.org].

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      if you wish to accept that people are going to text while on the sidewalk

      TFS says this fine is imposed on people crossing the street. Text/talk all you want up on the sidewalk.

    • by Nkwe ( 604125 )

      The more effective solution would be to electrify the lamp posts so they give you a safe but unpleasant shock if you walk into them (since apparently the blow isn't enough to discourage people from not watching where they are going).

      Since the electronic device is the root of the problem, the voltage should be high enough to damage the device. This would eliminate the problem of repeat offender devices. It is not sufficient to simply electrocute the operator of the device, as some other operator could pick up the device and continue to cause problems.

    • There are no padded lampposts in London. Or trials. This is an urban myth that started when British directory enquiries service 118-118 ran an advertisting campaign in 2008. [engadget.com]

      How can people still be foolish enough to include this in news articles without checking the facts?
      • Look at the BS fed to people during the last elections in the UK and the US and the Brexit referendum and you have to ask.

    • Meanwhile, the city of London has tried putting pads on their lamp posts "to soften the blow for distracted walkers."

      There is an ICD-10 diagnosis code for designating injuries as having been caused by walking into a lamp post:

      ICD-10 diagnosis W22.02XA: Walked into lamppost, initial encounter.
      ICD-10 diagnosis W22.02XD: Walked into lamppost, subsequent encounter.

      For those people who get up and bump into it again.

    • In response to American football players being injured, they developed better helmet technology to soften the blow. This resulted in football players hitting each other harder,

      I always wondered why American football was so obsessed with pads and helmets. Being a Rugby player I'd be interested in watching an NFL game with all the same rules but no protection. I think it would make the game more interesting because it requires more technique to execute a big hit on the other guy without injuring yourself.
      I'm guessing it would also lead to a net reduction in serious injuries since self preservation would now become a concern (maybe?)

  • maybe the blind can accurately text without looking.
  • Better idea. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Sunday July 30, 2017 @10:41AM (#54908815)

    Instead of a monetary penalty, just close their most active social media account each time they get caught. ;)

  • If Honolulu *REALLY* wanted to target smartphone zombies, they would do nothing. This seems like a problem that solves itself.
  • Bah (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Sunday July 30, 2017 @11:00AM (#54908907)

    We should be celebrating the death of the low-I.Q. members of our societies [darwinawards.com], not protect them!

  • We make our laws like everyone is born with a SUV strapped to our asses.
    • what? those 350 lbs+ land whales brushing both sides of the aisle as they clutch their cookies and snack cakes on the way to checkout with their food stamps don't?

  • by Cardcaptor_RLH85 ( 891550 ) on Sunday July 30, 2017 @11:17AM (#54908983)

    When I was a kid, before pre-teens had cell phones, I read books while walking home from school. I had a number of close calls with vehicles when crossing streets while reading Asimov or Clarke. I almost want to take a trip to Honolulu with a few paperbacks just to publicly mock the fact that this legislation doesn't actually fix the problem it tries to fix.

    • Bollocks. We all know that the smartphone created the concept of inattentiveness and is what broke down social structures. Certainly people never did things like read books or newspapers. /sarcasm

  • I know it's confusing but the "City of London" is just the square mile around the Bank of England. It's not the big city which is called "London". Brick Lane isn't in "The City" - it's in the London borough of Tower Hamlets. For historical reasons that little borough got the name city first (and properly historical reasons - it's the only place explicitly mentioned in Magna Carta).
    • Have you never heard of an entire metro area being colloquially referred to by the name of the central city?

      Of course if you were looking closely, they did not capitalize city, meaning it was used descriptively rather than nominatively.

  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Sunday July 30, 2017 @11:37AM (#54909099)

    Smartphone Zombies

    Drivers get points added for hitting pedestrians on phones, points subtracted for hitting those without.

  • by chipschap ( 1444407 ) on Sunday July 30, 2017 @12:13PM (#54909257)

    I live in Honolulu and I walk all the time. I am careful about obeying crosswalk laws and I pay attention when crossing because my life depends on it.

    Certainly I agree pedestrians shouldn't be texting, etc., while crossing, and Honolulu has a terrible problem with pedestrian fatalities (highest in the nation for senior citizen pedestrians).

    But the city consistently fails to do anything about cars running lights. At any major intersection, when the 'walk' light comes on, I don't dare start to cross right away because there are always one or more cars racing through the intersection, running the red light. And the walk light stays on for exactly seven seconds at most intersections; it's illegal to start crossing once the white light goes off and the red countdown light starts.

    The city considered red light cameras but rejected the idea. Of course, they bring in a host of other problems and abuses, but pedestrians won't be safe as long as drivers run lights and ignore crosswalks. Texting while crossing is just one part of the problem. But in a city that favors cars over every other mode of transportation, legislating against pedestrians will be what you see happen.

    • Agreed.

      I'll admit to staring at my phone and the "Walk" light. When the "Walk" light comes on, I step out because cars are supposed to stop. I shouldn't have to look left or right.

      • I'll admit to staring at my phone and the "Walk" light. When the "Walk" light comes on, I step out because cars are supposed to stop. I shouldn't have to look left or right.

        The car is a ton of speeding metal. The fact that you were in the right won't be much consolation.

  • As cities struggle to figure out how much taxpayer money will be wasted protecting the stupid, I struggle as to how this will run counter to the concept of survival of the fittest.

    In short, fuck those who are smart enough to operate a phone and yet too dumb and ignorant to grasp the dangers of the world around them. Let Darwin do his work already.

  • I personally believe that this ongoing mission to eliminate all forms of natural selection and safeguard more and more stupid people is actually a bad thing for the human race going forward..

    • I personally believe that this ongoing mission to eliminate all forms of natural selection and safeguard more and more stupid people is actually a bad thing for the human race going forward..

      You make it sound like this is a bad thing.

      It's important for the survival of democracy in its current form that it should be easy to drown out every objection voiced by directing the unified zombie horde to chant 'braaaaaaaiiiiiiins' at the appropriate moment. This kind of facility doesn't just appear without planning!

    • a human seated in a couple tons or more of steel, plastic and glass going tens of kilometers per hour or more isn't natural, nor is having to watch out for such. Maybe making pedestrians and humans driving vehicles share the same pavement is bad engineering and dangerous to human life even before phones are brought into the picture.

      • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

        >> nor is having to watch out for such.

        Of course it is.
        The common sense to not step into place of potentially fatal danger without first at least checking is basic survival as old as life itself.

        • of course you're wrong

          nothing in human evolution for situation of vehicles at full speed with engine noise masked by city environment approaching. just as the myriads of animals killed by vehicles attest

          your level of obtuseness is appalling

  • Why pad poles etc.? Let those morons just get hurt by their own stupid behavior, maybe it'll teach them to watch where they are going. And a good law for fining people who keep their head on their phone while crossing the street.
    • Because then you get blood on the posters and new posters have to be put up. It's a waste of paper. Think of the trees! Why won't anyone think of the trees! /s

  • This is a good thing and a logical progression with regulating new technologies. Just as when cars were invented, there were very few laws, and lots of injuries and accidents, so too with any new technology society must develop new norms. Having almost run down an iPod zombie years ago, this law can't be adopted fast enough across all 50 states. At the very least, it will make the entire population aware that before crossing the street, they must disengage from their technology and then "look both ways"

  • Plans to target road zombies and supermarket zombies are afoot.

    "All drivers will be required by law to be conscious whilst driving or face stiff penalties! How is that reasonable? I mean, if I've got a licence, I should be able to <looks away to play with phone, motions with hand to indicate this is a temporary interruption, never re-connects with the current arc of continuity>" a disgruntled driver responded after news of the draconian laws broke last week in California.

  • Glad to hear I can still look at my laptop while crossing the street while in Honolulu!
  • 68% of the victims are male

    67% under the age of 30

  • In iOS 11, Apple is implementing Do Not Disturb For Driving, in which your iPhone will stop sending and receiving texts if you are in your car and it's moving.

    I propose Do Not Disturb For Pedestrians, in which your GPS location while in urban areas is continually checked against Apple Maps. When you're in a street, your display is replaced by a big red LOOK UP banner.

  • If Londoners are walking into poles and getting hurt, keep the poles unpadded so they learn. How many times is someone likely to make that embarrassing and painful mistake before they learn to look where they're going? "Not that many" is my bet.
  • Need I say more?

    Here's one: how 'bout zombiephones keep track of where you are, and pause when you're in the street?

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