BOSTON (CBS) – We’ve talked a lot in this segment about the horror of drivers who insist on focusing on their cellphones behind the wheel, and with good reason – they’re a menace to public safety and an affront to basic common sense.

But now, it’s the pedestrians’ turn.

Starting Wednesday, Honolulu becomes the first big city in the country to ban crossing the street while viewing a mobile electronic device.

(Photo credit EUGENE TANNER/AFP/Getty Images)

Smartphone distraction is partially blamed for a nine-percent jump in pedestrian deaths last year, the highest level in nearly three decades.

If you get caught risking your life and that of others in Honolulu, you can be fined $15 to $35 for the first violation, up to $75 for a second offense within a year, and up to $99 for a third violation in that same time span.

And while I applaud the intent, this seems inadequate.

As one perpetrator put it to the New York Times, “a lot of people do it; they know it’s risky and do it anyway. They convince themselves that ‘this text is important.’”

(Photo credit STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

Faced with that kind of selfishness and obtuseness, stiffer penalties are called for.

Were Boston to implement this kind of ordinance, I’d say $100 for the first offense might get people’s attention.

And another one after that? Make it $500.

Now you’re talking deterrence.

Speaking of obtuseness, the Times quotes a so-called transportation expert claiming this is the wrong way to go, that we’re better off imbedding stoplights in the ground so phone zombies will see them.

As if that will stop them.

Anyone who’s raised a kid or a dog knows you have to set boundaries and enforce them.

Come on, local pols – it’s time to get tough with bad dog pedestrians.

Comments (3)
  1. If you want deterrence, I would suggest making any injury to a person hit while fiddling on their cell phone personally responsible for 50% of the medical costs to treat them. No insurance bail-out; no state or federal medical benefits, no charity support, No mommy and daddy fluttering to the rescue for anyone over 18. PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.

    Get five or six people hammered by this exclusion, and the word will get out. People might start waking up.

  2. Ann Gillis says:

    Pedestrians are far too unaware of traffic either motorist or bicyclist especially when distracted by others using sell phones. Please remember where you are first and then when there is the time and place use the phone