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Bills in 2 states target distracted pedestrians

Associated Press / January 25, 2011

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Lawmakers in at least two states are looking to pull the plug on texting pedestrians and iPod-using runners, saying their diverted attention borders on disaster.

After targeting drivers who paid more attention to their phone calls and text messages than the road, lawmakers in Arkansas and New York are now looking to crack down on pedestrians equally distracted by their electronic gadgets.

Lawmakers in both states have proposed restrictions on using cellphones and music players such as iPods by people running and walking on the street or sidewalk.

The proposal in Arkansas would ban pedestrians from wearing headphones in both ears while on, parallel, or adjacent to a street, road, intersection, or highway.

The measure also applies to runners and cyclists and would allow pedestrians to wear headphones in one ear.

State Senator Carl Kruger in New York has been trying since 2007 to ban the use of cellphones, iPods, and other gadgets by pedestrians crossing the street in major cities. The proposal would ban the use of an electronic device while in a crosswalk in a city with a population of 1 million or more. Violators would face a $100 civil fine.

Most states have been tackling distracted driving in some fashion, with 30 states and the District of Columbia banning texting while driving.

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