Latest push to expand cell phone ban targets pedestrians, bicyclists

Although it’s already illegal to use a cell phone while driving, it’s never difficult to spot someone talking while behind the wheel.

Now Honolulu City Council member Brandon Elefante wants to take the cell phone ban a step further by making it illegal to walk and talk while crossing a street in a crosswalk.

“It would ensure a safety mechanism when pedestrians cross the street to look and also be aware, to ensure that they cross the street in a safe manner and they’re not distracted,” Elefante said. “This would change the behavior of pedestrians when they do cross the street.”

That’s not all. Elefante also wants to make it illegal to use your cell phone while riding a bike, even though, he admits, he’s not aware of any accidents.

“We want to just ensure safety for when pedestrians cross the street, but for all modes of transportation — cyclists or people operating a vehicle and pedestrians as well,” Elefante said.

Elefante says he introduced the measure after a member of the community told him he saw far too many people, pedestrians in particular, using a mobile electronic device and not paying attention when crossing the street.

This isn’t the first time a ban like this has been brought up. Both city and the state lawmakers tried previously, but both times the measure never went anywhere.

People KHON2 spoke with said they’re not sure if it should become law, but they understand what’s behind the push.

“I think it’s a good idea for safety reasons and being able to pay attention to your surroundings,” said Honolulu resident Kenneth Augustine.

“You can’t get anybody to obey unless you have some consequences, so I think you could put it out there and we’ll see how the majority rules,” said Honolulu resident Tricia Fish. “I was on the cell phone and I should be actually paying attention to where I’m going, and I tell my children the same thing, but I was not and you caught me.”

View the bill in its entirety here.

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