Honolulu enacts 'Zombie Law' to curb distracted walking

By HUB SmartCoverage Team on October 26th, 2017

Despite the fact that it was enacted less than a week before Halloween, Honolulu's new 'Zombie Law' has nothing to do with the undead roaming around the city. Rather, it's very much aimed at the living, and will fine pedestrians $35 for walking around publicly with their eyes glued to their cellphone screens.

It's certainly a bold move for the Hawaiian capital, which became the first major U.S. city to implement such a law. However, given the fact that pedestrian deaths in America rose 11 per cent in 2016, it may be just what the doctor ordered for an increasingly distracted society.

While Honolulu is making a clear statement in terms of its attitude towards pedestrian cellphone use, other places around the world have taken action to diminish harm in vastly different ways. Municipalities like Moscow and the Netherlands' Bodegraven have installed LED lighting strips that are placed near pedestrians' feet at busy intersections in order to alert them when traffic lights change. The Chinese city of Chongqing took things a step further and created distinct cellphone lanes that separate undistracted pedestrians from those choosing to use their mobile devices.

This sort of tangible prevention has yet to make its way to Canada, and that may not be changing anytime soon. Last year Toronto investigated the possibility of instituting a 'Zombie Law' of its own, it's City Council even voting in favour of doing so; but the proposal was quickly turned down by the province.

It also never had the support of Toronto Mayor John Tory.

"The idea that we're going to have more people writing out tickets and handing them to people who are crossing the street without [care] doesn't strike me, necessarily, as the best use of resources," he said.

Canadians largely disagreed. One survey conducted in 2016 found that 66 per cent of Canadians would support such a ban.

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