Tuesday, May 15, 2012


So the borough of Fort Lee in New Jersey has passed an ordinance criminalizing "texting while walking".

Explains their ortsgruppenleiter:
There have been 23 pedestrian accidents since January, Fort Lee police chief told CBS New York. While most accidents were minor, three fatalities were reported.
"They're not alert and they're not watching what they're doing,"
Which sounds like a self-solving problem to me; one that could be fixed by the front bumpers of city buses far faster than by any number of ticket-writing po-po. But no, the city fathers were hired to write laws, and write laws they will, by damn. When the only tool you have is a statute book, then every problem you see is just an act waiting to be criminalized.

I'm dying to see how that law is worded. How is "walking" defined? Two consecutive steps? More than two? "X or more steps in X amount of time"? Does it have to be in a forward direction, or is this like 'traveling' in the NBA? Can you sidestep and text at the same time?

"Not guilty, your honor. My client was texting while Riverdancing, which is clearly not prohibited by the ordinance."

This is the very definition of a bad law, and you New Jerseyites don't have a hair on your collective ass if you don't clog the courts with cases of texting while skipping, jogging, running, moonwalking, et frickin' cetera.


Anonymous said...

Memo to self: when in New Jersey, monkey jump down the sidewalk.

Shootin' Buddy

Duke said...

The fatalities were probably caused by the drivers texting as well. Of course they need to be able to text the pedestrian to get out of the way.

NewJerseyThomas said...

Ft. Lee has always been a little quirky. Don't judge us all by them.

Carteach said...

The law was written incorrectly. Allow me to assist.....

"No vehicle driver shall be charged with a crime for the act of striking with a moving vehicle a pedestrian who can be shown to have been in the act of sending a text message on an electronic device at the exact time, or within five seconds, of the impact".

KandaBer said...

This is where the Ministry of Silly Walks comes in.

Bubblehead Les. said...

Why these political hacks keep denying Darwin Award Nominees the opportunity to receive their Rewards is beyond me.

Brad K. said...

Well, I suppose texting could be considered a distraction. Then the ordinance could ticket one for being "distracted in public",and simply ticket anyone seen poking at buttons on a portable electronic device -- texting, journaling, dialing a cell phone, when they offender should have been relating to fellow citizens and observing social and legal guidelines.

Ooh! No! Texting while walking must be like being under the influence of something intoxicating! Yeah, they grab you up, and confiscate the bottle/pills/phone, throw you in the drunk tank, and wait until the judge gets in next Tuesday to let you post bail. Whoa! I wonder if the confiscated criminal paraphenalia gets sold with the bicycles at police auctions, or is "destroyed" (routed to personal and family use)?

I suppose they could get around defining walking with a promise. Just ban texting by pedestrians. "Oh, no, we would never ticket someone that isn't bumping into things, wandering off the curb into traffic, or obstructing other pedestrians or vehicles! We promise!" Or just ticket anyone texting within 10 feet of a pedestrian or moving vehicle.

Of course, this would mean that all cell and smart phone carriers operating in the area would have to share their records of texts with police departments, so the departments can set up check points, to detect folk texting as opposed to, say, robo-dialing canned political or fund raising calls.

Or dialing the police to report a violent crime.

What next? Tickets for reading while walking? Been doing that safely since '93. For years I played clarinet while walking in the streets, since '65. I had to pay attention to the music, the street, and the wacko up from with the long stick, too. And I don't recall harming anyone.

Maybe they could call texting as a pedestrian being a parade without a license. Could they issue a permit to text as a pedestrian? Require permit holders to wear a safety-yellow-green hat or banner? Will distracted conversation or distracted (or scattered) thinking be next? Window shopping? Or maybe this is a way to nab those horrid people that hang about the streets for nefarious purposes? "Yer Honor, we thunk these three ladies and this gentlemen were, um, texting on the corner of Market and Vine, but when we checked 'em over before tucking them in the squad car, we found them to be engaged in prostitution."

I wonder if you can pass gas while walking in NJ, or have to stop and grimace, first?

Jeff said...

Of course, the morning TV news was all excited, wanting a new texting while doing something law here in the Circle City/Hoosier State for themselves!

Cincinnatus said...

If you got shoes on, you are walking.

Bram said...

Fort Lee is where the George Washington Bridge hits NJ. The only quick escape is into NY - where the frying pan meets the fire.

I used to work in Fort Lee. At lunch-time the local High School releases the inmates. They are all over the local roads in search of fast food. Without doing any research, I'm betting people are bumping into lunching teenagers.

Anonymous said...

If it is anything like how drunk driving laws are written and prosecuted, having your phone on your person while standing will be grounds for being ticketed.

Jeff said...

Saw this on the news last night, all they really needed to do was what they'd apparently just started doing before writing this stupid law.

Aggressively hand out tickets for jaywalking.

I believe we are up well over 50 dead pedestrians here in Vegas this year. We've got a lot of bad drivers here but the pedestrians are just plain stupid.

I wish Metro would stop murdering people (they shot a K9 yesterday...)and deal with real issues like the jaywalking.

Sigivald said...

What Jeff said.

If you dig in to the links, you find: After trying pamphlets and brochures, he’s ordering his officers to ticket careless pedestrians on the spot.

“They’re not alert and they’re not watching what they’re doing,” Police Chief Thomas Ripoli told CBS 2′s Derricke Dennis. “As of now, they are to give summonses to pedestrians who do not adhere to crosswalks and the lights.”

A pedestrian that "do[es] not adhere to crosswalks and the lights"? (And relatedly, causes those getting-hit-by-cars incidents they highlight?)

Is jaywalking, and that's not a new statute.

Indeed, when people are jaywalking dangerously (by walking in front of a moving vehicle that has a right to be moving) they ought to get a damn ticket, texting or not.

Kristophr said...

Basketball rules.

"Officer, he double dribbled! Arrest him!"

The Jack said...

When I moved out of NJ, I made a pledge to never set foot in there again.

11 years and counting...

Grayson said...

Only 3 fatalities?

Somebody needs to start handing out more Crackberries. The global gene pool needs some weapons grade chlorine.

ASM826 said...

New Jersey tolerates their (anti) gun laws, they'll tolerate this, too.

Doug said...

"Texting while riverdancing" *snerk* One of the best lines I've read in a long while :)

Ed Foster said...

Fort Lee is essentially Koreatown, and has an authoritarian/confucian mindset.

All the more reason for Federalism and no more Washington money for the states, so the sillies can either learn from their more practical neighbors or foot the bill for their own peccadillos.

400 billion in Fed money gets handed out each year in manna from D.C., essentially guaranteeing that the crazy places get carried by the better run ones. That's $2,000 from each taxpayer.

Why not just cut everybody's income tax that much and let the states that feel they need it try to collect it from their own taxpayers?

Tim D said...

Robin said...

If you got shoes on, you are walking.

Shouldn't that be if you got boots on, you are walking. Because boots are made for walking and that's just what they'll do.

-Tim D

Bram said...

Ed - While I agree with your federalism, NJ is a huge net donor to the federal government. So cutting taxes and eliminating state grants would be a boon to us in the Garden State.

Ed Foster said...

Hi Bram! Good to hear from you.

Being a former inmate at the federally subsidised colony know as Brooklyn New York, I also grew up with the meme that the cities put much more into the pot than they took out. I suspect it wasn't all that true even back in the 60's when I was a kid down there, and I wonder about the accuracy of it now.

Remember Lincoln's line about the three clasees of lies? There were lies, damned lies, and statistics. I was quoting the party line for decades about the cities carrying the rest of the country, but now I think I might put some time into checking it out.

The whole thing sounds somewhat counterintuitive. I don't have any solid numbers to go on yet, but I suspect there are huge costs common to urban areas that don't get factored in to the official equation, like straight grants from the Feds for police and welfare costs.

Violent crime is primarily a product of the professional underclass, and most of it lives within spitting distance of City Hall.

I've lived country, and I've lived city, and the per capita difference in infrastructure/overhead is the difference between night and day.

All of which fades into insignificance against the simple fact that the cities are where the liberals live. If Osama's heirs ever took out only one of the major urban areas, the Democratic Party would never win another national election.

Even if it did require a bit more fet trimming in the federal budget, I think a financial divorce would be socially beneficial to anybody who is beyond daytime AM radio distance of a coastal conurb. I'm counting the Great Lakes as coastal too, thanks to the St. Lawrence Seaway.

But I wonder if it really would result in higher taxes. I'll check on that and get back to you.

daeth said...

Walking? I wasn't walking.

Everyday, I be shufflin'.