Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Caution: Walking and Texting May Be a Crime in New Jersey

One of the awful jokes about President Ford was that he was such a klutz that he could not walk and chew gum at the same time. Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt of New Jersey has introduced a bill in the New Jersey Legislature that would make it illegal to walk and text at the same time. Texting while walking could receive a $50 fine and 15 days in prison. Her bill would also require pedestrians to use “hands free “attachments on their cell phones. In essence, New Jersey’s existing distraction while driving law would be extended to distraction while walking. Assemblywoman Lampitt explained: “Distracted pedestrians, like distracted divers, present potential danger to themselves and drivers on the road.” She called it “risky behavior.” Welcome to the Nanny State of New Jersey. New Jersey is one of the penultimate Nanny states in America. The Garden State is the state that until this January made it illegal for young entrepreneurs to shovel snow without a permit. Two teenagers were arrested in Bound Brook, New Jersey in February 2015 for shoveling without a permit. The town charged a $450 fee for a 180 day permit. Assemblywoman Lampitt referred to a recent Governors Highway Safety Association study showing that pedestrian deaths have risen in recent years while auto accident deaths have dropped. For example, pedestrian deaths rose 10% in201 while overall traffic deaths dropped 4%. Distracted pedestrians can be a problem. So also are stoned walkers. Next comes “walking while intoxicated.” The next step will therefore be to set up random spot field sobriety testing WPI (Walking While Intoxicated). Pedestrians would be required to walk a straight line. Walking can be boring, with a primordial urge to check one’s watch to see how much longer. Ban the watch instead, especially the new Apple Watch. Smoking and walking is also therefore dangerous, as is biking while smoking or listening to music in the helmet. Walking while talking can be disastrous. Animated conversations can be distracting. Therefore, require all walkers to zipper their lips while walking. Clearly no lip kissing while walking! Walking in the rain can be treacherous, but walking in the snow is downright dangerous. Therefore, all walking should be banned in inclement weather. Everything is distracting while walking, even chewing gum. Walkers discarding ABC (already been chewed) gum on the public walkway should a public nuisance. Let’s therefore adopt a Gerald Ford Statute rendering it illegal to walk and chew gum at the same time. One study shows 72% of all pedestrian accidents occur at night. Of course, you can’t always see walkers on a dark night, especially if they are wearing dark colors. We should therefore ban walking at night unless the walker has operating front and rear lights and a rear view mirror. Pedestrians also run the risk of stepping in dog feces left by those who disobey leash laws. We will also have to start a new war, War Against Unsafe Sidewalks,; i.e. flat walkways without cracks, holes, or bulging roots. We will need to create a new bureaucracy to enforce the new Safe Hoofing in This State campaign with sidewalk inspectors to ensure safe sidewalks and safe shoe inspectors to regulate the safety of walking shoes. Shoes will be inspected every three months. Boots made for walking would be permissible, but not kinky boots. Assemblywoman Lampitt is from Camden, New Jersey, one of the nation’s poorest, high crime ridden cities. Walking on the Wild Side in Camden can be hazardous to one’s life. Living in Camden should be banned. Fort Lee, New Jersey quickly got a reputation four years ago for ticketing walkers on their cell phones. The police chief clarified the report. Only jaywalkers on their cell phones were ticketed. I understand that walking is healthy, except for the decades when R. J. Reynolds Tobacco advertised “I’ll walk a mile for a Camel” cigarette. I recognize that walking while texting is safer than jogging while texting, but it is still an unacceptable risk to Assemblywoman Lampitt. Let’s cut to the chase Assemblywoman Lampitt: We need to ban public walking because it is dangerous and we cannot make it safe.

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