TORONTO – An Ontario provincial legislator says he will introduce a so-called “zombie bill” that would target distracted walking.
Liberal Yvan Baker says the bill — called the Phones Down, Heads Up Act — would impose fines for anyone caught using their cellphone or any electronic device while crossing the street.
Baker says if the private member’s bill becomes law, it would increase road safety by encouraging pedestrians to put down their electronic devices or risk fines ranging from $50 for a first offence to $125 for a third offence.
The only exceptions would be when pedestrians are calling emergency services or when they’re continuing a phone call which started before crossing the roadway.
Baker says municipalities across Ontario would have the ability to opt-out of the law.
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Rising pedestrian deaths have prompted other jurisdictions in the world to pass laws targeting distracted walking.
Earlier this month, Honolulu, Hawaii, became the first U.S. city to ban people from texting or using other digital devices while crossing roads.
Honolulu wasn’t the inspiration behind Baker’s bill, however. He told AM640’s The Morning Show on Monday that concerns from constituents over the number of pedestrians killed on the roads — and a fatal pedestrian collision that happened near his home — caused him to look into the research.
“What I discovered was that experts have done a lot of work on this issue of people being distracted while crossing the road and they’ve concluded that you’re a lot more likely to get injured or killed as a pedestrian if you’re crossing the road while distracted, especially if you’re looking down at your phone,” he said.
–With a file from AM640
© 2017 The Canadian Press