Honolulu in Hawaii has just brought in a brand new law. The legislation has been dubbed “distracted pedestrian” and relates to texting in the city while crossing the street. Deaths of pedestrians due to cell phone distraction are reportedly at a record high, leading lawmakers to state it is now against the law for pedestrians to cross the city’s streets, while distracted by a “mobile electronic device.”

Texting while crossing is nixed

As reported by US News, the bill was introduced by Councilman Brandon Elefante, who said they adopted the legislation to protect the safety of both pedestrians and motorists.

Speaking to the Associated Press, Elefante said there are already laws in place for motorists and cyclists. However, he says pedestrians must also share responsibility by paying attention as they cross the street. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell told the media that this is one new law he wishes the city didn’t have to pass but added that common sense doesn’t always prevail.

The city of Honolulu’s definition of a mobile electronic device includes all Cell Phones, personal digital assistants, pagers, video games, cameras, and laptop computers. The only exception to the rule is anyone making an emergency call or emergency responders themselves while performing their official duties.

Law is in effect in Honolulu with varied fines

The new law took effect on Wednesday (Oct. 25) and from now on, pedestrians spotted texting while crossing the street will face a fine from $15 to $35 for the first offense and anything from $75 to $99 for any subsequent violations. US News offered the comparison of the current fine for jaywalking, which is $130.

The New York Times reports that around 10 states have proposed similar legislation in the past, but each time it has been rejected. According to critics of the legislation, it could lead to law enforcement harassing pedestrians.

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), “distracted walking” leads to a significant threat to safety.

The NSC reported around 11,101 injuries between the years 2000 to 2011, involving cell phones. They also report that in 2016 there were 5,987 pedestrian deaths, which is up by nine percent from the previous year.

Deborah Hersman, President, and CEO of NSC said it is vitally important to be aware of our surroundings, whether in the car or on foot. Hersman added that no call or text is important enough to suffer an injury.