Police In New Jersey Town To Slap Walking Texters With $85 Tickets

Police in Fort Lee, N.J. want you to watch where you’re walking — and since doodling around on your phone, texting/emailing/Tweet/whatevering can cause people to
totally tune out their surroundings and cause a disruption, $85 jaywalking tickets will be applied to pedestrians caught doing so.

ABC News says the town has had three fatal pedestrian-involved accidents this year, and the chief of police thinks cracking down on “dangerous walkers” will make the town safer.

“It’s a big distraction. Pedestrians aren’t watching where they are going and they are not aware,” he said.

Of course, there are those in the town who don’t think the new practice is so great, complaining that the tickets are “a lot of money.” So far 117 tickets have been issued, after a grace period in March where police officers handed out pamphlets.

Texting while walking banned in New Jersey Town [ABC News]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Hi_Hello says:

    i support this idea. I see a lot of people walking into traffic while texting 0-o. I do not want to witness a person getting hit by a car….

    hmmm can I sue and win if the person survive? It would be a traumatic experience for me to witness something like that.

    • webweazel says:

      It should be that if you’re texting or distracted in any way and your dumb ass doesn’t look and just walks out in front of traffic, that it is acceptable and legal for a car to run your dumb ass over. ESPECIALLY in parking lots. Seriously.
      Down here in the South, people routinely do not even glance up while walking from a store to the parking lot. They’re reading their receipt, texting, or blabbing on the phone, just pushing their carts out in front of cars with no regard, almost a dare. Some do look and stare right at the moving car and just blare out right in front of it. Then yell at the driver. No thought of the idea that 2 tons of glass and steel needs at least a little bit of respect.
      The herd needs to be thinned. The pedestrian point system needs to be reinstated. Those with the most points WINS! Maybe some bragging labels for the fenders of the car like the old warplanes used to have listing their kills.
      “Pedestrians have the right of way” should be changed to “Pedestrians have the right of way after utilizing caution before stepping out into active roadway. Failure to utilize caution is grounds for severe physical damage.”

      • bluline says:

        It is a dare. These people are marking their territory and even though you are just passing through, they want you to know that they are in control, not you. Very passive aggressive.

      • xanadustc says:

        I agree…though I am not in the habit of texting and walking, I do read and walk all the time because I like to work on my brain and body, and I can combine them…It is actually not hard to pay attention to your surroundings. In several years of doing this, I have never walked into an intersection, or been unsafe.

        I think the town is going a bit far with that….

        So here is a better proposition: Lets reinstate the real-life, verifiable Darwin Awards!

    • CommonSense(ಠ_ಠ) says:

      I agree. I would rather have cops stealing money out off stupid people texting than trying to steal money from those of us on the highways driving safely 10 mph over with the flow of traffic.
      Speed limits are not about safety, they are about stealing money from people.

      • dangermike says:

        As much as I agree with the sentiment (I also consistently argue that carpool lanes exist so highway patrols have a revenue source when roads are too f***ed over with congestion to write speeding tickets), I gotta say, it’s not really the time or place to promote that particular agenda.

      • shufflemoomin says:

        Utter crap. 10Mph can make the difference between life and death when in a crash or hitting someone. Stick to the speed limit and you’ll never get a ticket. Complaining about enforcing of the laws is not an excuse for breaking it.

    • alana0j says:

      Oh man it was one of my biggest pet peeves when I’m driving on campus and asshats take FOREVER to cross in front of me because they are texing on their damn phones. They need to implement this in TN!

    • Scooby111 says:

      I hate watching kids get hurt too. Since one one kid in a million gets killed on playground accidents, we should outlaw playgrounds. Since a few people every year die while chocking on their big-macs, we should outlaw big macs.

      Who cares about freedom, right?

  2. Pagan wants a +1 button says:

    Can’t we just call this Darwinism in modern day form?

    • Kavatar says:

      If it only affected the people texting, maybe. But just like drunk driving, it affects others too.

  3. Blueskylaw says:

    Sounds like Fort Lee, New Jersey is seriously strapped for cash.

    • Scuba Steve says:

      Indeed. I know plenty of situations where walking while texting is perfectly safe. I’m sure none of those situations are excempted in this cash grab. So its basically a ban on texting in public.

      • chiieddy says:

        They’re only ticketing jaywalkers. When is texting while crossing a road safe? http://www.northjersey.com/news/transportation/road_warrior/ROAD0511.htm

        • Scuba Steve says:

          I’m sorry but nothing in your article (which I had to go through 3 of your replies to get a working link) mentions anything about texting, only that NJ had cracked down on Jaywalking.

          The ABC news article specifically mentions “Walking while texting” and its reaction to it. So you’re saying that ABC news is pretty much absolutely incorrect. While not unheard of, its far more likely that you’re inferring something that does not exist.

          Meaning I’m going to have to see some hard proof that you’re correct. I know that its possible, but it doesn’t make sense for them to “crack down” on texting while Jaywalking when they’re already cracking down on Jaywalking.

          • Black Bellamy says:

            You know, all you have to do is perform a simple google search to bring up a half-dozen articles which specifically mention that it’s texting WHILE jaywalking. And the ABC story, while not “absolutely incorrect”, is misleading because outside of the word “jaywalking” in the first para, the reader is left with the impression that it’s texting while doing any kind of walking, not just jaywalking.

            Your hard proof is just a google search away.

            • Scuba Steve says:

              And all you had to do was post one of those several links. Funny how people are lazy.

              • Black Bellamy says:

                I’m not in the business of providing information for anyone. I told you how to obtain the information yourself, then you call me lazy? That’s rich.

              • chiieddy says:

                And when I posted a link, it was dead within hours. Googling seems to be the best method here.

        • Blueskylaw says:

          So is sneezing while driving.

          NEW LAW: If a law enforcement officer catches you sneezing while driving you will be fined $85.
          If you want to avoid a fine then just pull over and sneeze; not only will you be avoiding a possible accident by not engaging in this dangerous behaviour, you will have extra cash in your pocket.

          Seriously though, if Fort Lee had plenty of tax money coming in, this would never have made it on the books.

          • InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

            Not exactly a fair comparison. Sneezing is an involuntary reaction. Texting is a conscious choice.

            • Hi_Hello says:

              not learning how to control your involuntary actions is a conscious decision. Anyone who has not master the control of their action when they need to should be ticketed.

              Now go practice making your heart stop beating for 30 seconds.

          • BorkBorkBork says:

            Are your eyes closed for 15-30 seconds while you sneeze? Because that’s how long youth seem to go between looking up from their phones while texting and walking

        • InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

          I can’t check the source you referenced, since the link you posted is a dead link. But I can say that, reading the ABC article linked above, the police are “issuing $85 jaywalking tickets to pedestrians who are caught texting while walking”. This doesn’t mean that they are ticketing jaywalkers who happen to be texting. It means that the police in this town consider walking while texting to be jaywalking.

        • Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

          Not true. They are ticketing people while walking on the sidewalk as they text.

        • Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

          Sorry, I trusted ABC. I can’t believe I just typed those words.

  4. Quirk Sugarplum says:

    No. We shouldn’t be ticketing these people. We should be capturing and breeding them in order to create a future servile race totally incapable of being distracted by their surroundings. Think of the possibilities!

  5. Nobby says:

    Will I be ticketed for walking while reading a map or book too? If not, why not?

  6. viper2000 says:

    The article is not clear on one thing.
    The legal definition of jaywalking involves actually walking out onto a street, where there’s not a sidewalk, without looking, etc.
    So, are they writing these jaywalking tickets to people who cross streets while texting, or to anyone they see walking down a sidewalk while texting?
    If it’s the latter, it wouldn’t be hard to get these tickets thrown out, as until that person enters a roadway, it is not jaywalking.

  7. PunditGuy says:

    Unintended consequences: People are going to be stopped for using augmented reality apps.

  8. Random Lurker says:

    I actually support this. As both a cyclist and a motorist, I have nearly hit texting pedestrians on many, many occassions, because they were blindly walking into intersections or driveways without checking traffic or lights. Just because you’re not in a vehicle doesn’t not mean you don’t have to watch where you are going.

    • bsh0544 says:

      So pay attention while you drive/ride? If you do hit one it’s automatically your fault just about everywhere.

      • Bladerunner says:

        Not true. Pedestrians only have right-of-way when they’re legally crossing. Granted, that can be hard to prove…

  9. chiieddy says:

    Found this article indicating it is for jaywalkers only, not all pedestrians. “Jaywalking, loosely defined as failing to yield to traffic while crossing a street on foot outside crosswalks or against a sign or signal, is one of the most dangerous and most common traffic safety violations. “

  10. madmallard says:

    Uncontested fines:

    117 x 85 = 9945

    If the first month of ticketing is indicative, this means an extra $100,000 to the Fort Lee police department; a force of 115 people to a population of 35,000

  11. Coelacanth says:

    How does the law actually define “texting”? Does this only refer to those using an SMS message, or perhaps using IM/Facebook chats?

    What about those just reading a website? How does an officer actually know how the device is being used – or would that have to be argued in court as a defense?

    • Random Lurker says:

      Ideally, it defines it as doing anything on a device that distracts you from watching where you’re going. No idea what the law says though.

  12. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    I support this too. We went to Dunkin’ Donuts the other day, and couldn’t get in the door because someone was standing in front of it playing a game on his phone. We had to ask twice for him to move, and then he looked pissed at us!

    I’m convinced this is what will lead to the zombie apocalypse. There will be a massive solar flare, communication satellites will be knocked out, and an entire generation of people will be standing around, drooling, and staring at their darkened phones. It will be all downhill from there.

  13. aleck says:

    Looks like a complete fail on ABC’s and Consumerist’s part to understand the context. The tickets are NOT issued to people who just text and walk, but to people who are texting while crossing the street. Entirely different circumstances.

    • cape1232 says:

      Actually, this is not a fail, but a “tactic”. Consumerist ups their page-views by using a sensational and “oops, accidentally” misleading title to draw people in to what at first glance might be an interesting story.

      When it isn’t, they get an additional bump in traffic by all us readers who can’t resist pointing out the errors.

      It’s quite sad when you can’t even trust a consumer-oriented site to give it to you straight.

  14. wackydan says:

    I saw a girl in NYC nearly mowed down because she was too involved with her phone and walked right out into the street.

  15. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Are they ticketing those crossing the street only, or at any time you are texting and walking, even if solidly on a pedestrian walkway?

  16. ThinkingBrian says:

    I can’t say anything, when I have my Smartphone in hand looking things up, surfing the web and using Twitter, I do tune out. So this is a safety issue (people who are texting can walk out into traffic and not even know it) and I guess the fine is to get peoples attention. What damn, $85, what a fine.

    …Of course walking and tweeting/surfing isn’t a problem for anymore considering I’m an AT&T GoPhone Smartphone user on a non-monthly plan (no data anymore), but that’s another issue.

  17. CrackedLCD says:

    Crossing the street whilst texting is definitely dangerous and I can see the logic in ticketing people doing it.

    Which is worse: walking out into traffic while not paying attention, or being alert and constantly reminded that you’re walking around in New Jersey? That’s a tough call.

  18. Lethe says:

    Whatever cuts down on the bear maulings


  19. dush says:

    So jaywalking means you only get a ticket for walking and texting in the street right?

  20. atthec44 says:

    Thanks a lot nanny state.

  21. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    Next they’ll fine people for standing still while texting.

    Then they’ll fine people not looking ahead while they’re walking.

    Then they’ll fine people for walking.

    But I’m sure it’s all in the name of public safety.

  22. chizu says:


    This one seems to explain it better than the ABC one. They are issuing tickets to jaywalkers — and it was noted that those who text while jaywalking are the biggest offenders.

    I’m not all that familiar with Fort Lee myself — but the few times that I had driven through, the streets are narrower because there are areas of Fort Lee that are very walkable and more pedestrian-oriented. (Like a traditional downtown.) Being so close to NYC, there are lots of cars going through town on a daily basis. Driving in that area is really intense, I get really stressed driving in North Jersey due to the amount of traffic. I really don’t want another stress factor where someone jumps into traffic when they aren’t supposed to just because they didn’t pay attention to the traffic lights. Yes, drivers should always pay attention, but I also think pedestrians should be held responsible for their own actions too.

  23. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

    Headline should be “Police In New Jersey Town To Slap Jaywalking Texters…” and I agree with this measure – while somebody here said “Pay attention while you are driving/riding” – if you are doing the speed limit on a street and somebody just blindly steps off the curb into the path of your vehicle/bike because they’re too busy texting to look both ways before crossing the street (and I’m not talking about at the street corner neither) then they should be fined. I’ve had to slam the brakes on more times than I care to count because people just step off the damn sidewalk and sashay across the road into oncoming traffic and just expect us to be able to stop on a dime because they can’t be bothered to walk another 100 feet to a crosswalk or intersection.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      Exactly. I hate people who do that. But I still wouldn’t want to hit one of them. The fallout would be immense, even if it were determined the accident wasn’t my fault.

  24. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I’d like to see them try this in Los Angeles. They’d be grease spots on the road. Drivers there are maniacs.

  25. Willow16 says:

    Last year, I watched a high school student (she had just gotten off a school bus) walk right into a utility pole. Unbelievable!

  26. Kestris says:

    Pedestrians rarely watch where they’re going, texting or not. Even when they’re looking right at you, they’re apt to step off the curb and take two steps out into the road, before someone pulls them back, because hey, traffic is coming, you have a do not walk sign and well, my CR-V is bigger than you.

    (Yes, this happened Sat night, fool woman looked right at me and took two steps off the sidewalk into oncoming traffic [me] before the guy with her pulled her back. Then I had another gy walking down the sidewalk and stumble over his own feet, almost into the road in front of me, not a block away. No, he wasn’t texting, he might have been a touch tipsy though.)

  27. buddyedgewood says:

    Welcome to the nanny state…

  28. Emily says:

    As if life in Fort Lee weren’t unpleasant enough.

    Actually, in Fort Lee I can see it… the place is essentially a tangle of freeway ramps.

  29. IR1 says:

    Lets just go ahead and get on all fours and let the government sheer us for our wool.

  30. corridor7f says:

    Sounds good.

    I kinda wanna see this happen for zoned-out pedestrians on the sidewalk too, but that’s splitting hairs, I guess.

    For those within my weight class: I just brace myself, knock ’em in the shoulder and then pretend to be apologetic if they bother to glance up. Why should I be the only one looking where I’m walking and have to move? If I need to look up something on my phone, I move aside or glance up once in a while

  31. AdviceDog says:

    New Jersey: Good People Don’t End Up Here