About a year ago, CBS3 reported that the Nutter administration was going to begin ticketing people who were seen texting while walking. Though false, the report made it all over the Internet, providing cynical commentary from sites like Gawker as well as insane, wing-nutty banter from Fox News and the National Review, whose writers and commenters used the story as an example of swollen government nanny-statism. This April Fool’s Day, the Mayor’s Office turned around and made fun of the media’s gullibility by marking a fake “texting lane” on 15th Street. Joking aside, texting and walking is a serious problem. Here are some real solutions other cities have taken up to deal with the problem of walking into traffic while your brain is on vacation.
1. London Pads Their Lampposts
In 2008, an Internet video clip showed pedestrians walking down Wrap Brick Lane in East London and crashing into lampposts and trash bins. So, as a public relations ploy, 118118 and Living Streets, a company and a charity respectively, attached rugby goalpost cushions to the posts for 24 hours to see if it made a difference. The conversation quickly turned to whether this made London more of a “nanny state,” though a survey of 1,000 plugged-in Brits found 10 percent have suffered an injury while texting.
2. Fort Lee, N.J., Ups Its Jaywalking Tickets
Considering the scope of the problem, there have been few recent scientific studies conducted regarding texting and walking in the United States. How many people are truly fucking themselves up because they need to know what their mom thought of last night’s episode of Mob Wives? We don’t know. But here’s what we do know: In 2008, before everyone had a smartphone, more than 1,000 American pedestrians visited the emergency room as a result of texting or phone-talking accidents. And Fort Lee, N.J., has had enough. They upped the price of a jaywalking ticket to $85 earlier this year. Police Chief Thomas Ripoli noted it was the only thing they could think to do about the problem. “They’re not walking in the crosswalks. They’re walking against the red light, and they’re being struck by vehicles,” he told ABC News. “We had three fatalities this year, and 23 people hurt, hit, [in] a three-month period.”
3. Incorporate Apps Takes the Next Logical Step
A study done by Stony Brook University found texters were 60 percent more likely to veer into traffic. That’s why a company named Incorporate Apps created Walk and Text, an application for Androids and iPhones for which they promise: “You will never again run into another person or object while texting,” and: “Hitting those lampposts is history.” The app uses your phone’s camera in real time to turn the entire background of your screen into, effectively, a transparent window. Because your phone no longer blocks the view, Incorporate Apps says, you’re sure to never run into anything ever again. And no Philly cop will ever again act as your nanny, handing out tickets because you couldn’t wait to find out the latest on Big Ang.