You may be able to walk and chew gum at the same time, but soon you may not be allowed to walk and listen to your iPod while crossing a street in major New York cities.
Sen. Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn) plans to introduce legislation that would ban people from listening to music players or using electronic devices that would hamper their awareness of their surroundings while crossing the street, said Jason Joppel, Kruger’s chief of staff. The legislation would also apply to pedestrians using iPods and other MP3 players, BlackBerries, cell phones or other devices.
Kruger’s decision to file the legislation stemmed from the recent deaths of three people who were killed crossing streets in Brooklyn and Manhattan while listening to music players, Joppel said.
“The individuals were tuned into iPods and tuned out to the surroundings around them, and they stepped off the curb into the path of an oncoming bus or truck or car,” he said. “All three were fatally injured. In one case people, were screaming at the person to watch out, but the person couldn’t hear them because iPod [headphones] were in the person’s ears.”
Earlier this year, Ilya Kiselev, 20, was run over and killed while crossing Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Kiselev, who lived in Brooklyn, was wearing iPod headphones at the time.
Under the legislation, which should be filed soon, violators would be fined $100, Joppel said.
“This would be a criminal court summons, which means the person would have to appear in court to pay the fine; he couldn’t just mail it in,” Joppel said.
“The time has come, unfortunately, that [this] has become a tremendous safety hazard,” he said. “People have walked in front of our car because they were talking on the cell phone and kept on going because they didn’t even notice us.”
In 2001, New York was the first state to adopt a ban on handheld phone use while driving.
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