Beginning on January 3, 2018, it is unlawful to cross the street in the City of Montclair:
* While engaged in a phone call
* While viewing a mobile electronic device
* With both ears covered or obstructed by personal audio equipment
Like drivers, pedestrians have always been engaged in multi-tasking behavior such as the use of handheld phones, music listening devices, and other electronic devices. The effects of such behavior can relate to that of a distracted driver. Distracted drivers differ from distracted pedestrians in the fact that distracted driving has policies and interventions in place to improve safety, where such safety measures are not in effect for pedestrians. Pedestrians now account for 15 percent of all vehicle-related fatalities and when compared, 2016 experienced a 22 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities from 2014. An estimated 30 percent of pedestrians engage in distracting activities while crossing the street, which include text messaging, phone calls, listening to music, etc.
What does the ordinance actually say?
City of Montclair Municipal Code 8.28.020 (A) states:
"No pedestrian shall cross a street or highway while engaged in a phone call, viewing a mobile electronic device or with both ears covered or obstructed by personal audio equipment."
What do some of the terms mean?
- A pedestrian is a person who is on foot or who is using a skateboard, roller skates, wheelchairs, or any other propelled means of transport that is not a bicycle. An electric assistive mobility device such as an electric wheelchair or scooter is also included as part of this group.
- A mobile electronic device is any hand-held/portable or head/body-mounted electronic equipment like a cell phone, media player, electronic tablet, camera, etc. capable of providing wireless communication or amusement.
- Personal audio equipment means any device placed in or around a person's ears capable of producing an audible sound like over-the-ear headphones and ear buds.
- Viewing means looking in the direction of the screen of a mobile electronic device.
Are there any exceptions?
- "911" calls
- Pedestrians with medically prescribed hearing aids
- Emergency first responders along with the performance and scope of their official duties
Consequences & Penalties?
Anyone who violates any provision of this law is guilty of an infraction violation. These violations are punishable by:
- a fine of one hundred (100) dollars for a first violation.
- a fine not exceeding two hundred (200) dollars for a second violation.
- a fine not exceeding five hundred (500) dollars for every additional violation within any consecutive 12-month period.