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... And look where you're going

| Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, 9:00 p.m.

Possibly indicating a new trend afoot, two city governments at opposite ends of the nation are sending wake-up calls — or, more to the point, “Look up!” calls — to smartphone-using pedestrians.

Going beyond smartphones' role in “distracted driving,” their role in “distracted walking” is now being targeted, CBS News reports. A new Honolulu ordinance, effective in October, fines pedestrians $15 to $99 when police catch them crossing streets while gazing at their smartphones. A proposal in Stamford, Conn., calls for $30 fines when police catch street-crossers texting or talking on electronic devices.

These initiatives speak volumes about just how wrapped up in their smartphones too many people are these days. Research shows distracted walking's on the rise — and so are fatalities among pedestrians so glued to their hand-held screens that they're oblivious to their surroundings.

The police chief in Rexburg, Idaho, says that when his town banned pedestrian cellphone use in crosswalks in 2011, “the problem just about went away and we haven't had any issues with it since we starred enforcing it.” One of two Honolulu council members who opposed that city's ordinance because it “borders on over-regulation” expects it to be challenged in court.

Whatever such measures' fate, it shouldn't take government intervention for pedestrians to do the commonsense thing for their own safety: looking up from their smartphones. It's today's update to looking both ways before crossing a street.

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