Using Cell Phones While Crossing the Street Is Now Illegal

Pedestrians+crossing+at+a+crosswalk+in+downtown+Honolulu.+One+pedestrian+is+spotted+with+an+electric+device%2C+as+if+she%27s+texting.+

Jenny Paleracio

Pedestrians crossing at a crosswalk in downtown Honolulu. One pedestrian is spotted with an electric device, as if she's texting.

Scrolling through social media, texting friends, and playing that new game on an electronic device will no longer be an option for anyone who decides to cross a city street or highway in Oahu. A law that has been taken into effect since Oct. 25 focuses on increasing the awareness of pedestrian safety.

Pedestrians crossing the street will be prohibited from using their electronic devices, such as laptops, tablets, pagers, and video gaming devices. Although using electronic devices is considered illegal, the new law allows pedestrians to speak on a cellphone while crossing a street or highway. 

Pedestrians who are caught using an electronic device while crossing the street will be fined $15-35 for a first offense. If a pedestrian is caught the second time within the same year, he or she will be fined $35-$75, and for a third offense within 12 months, it will cost $75-$99. 

Mark Mansueto, a 22-year-old criminal justice major at Chaminade University, disagrees with the new law.  

“I’m opposed to it,” Mansueto said. “I think that if you wanna cross the street and look at your phone, it’s a risk you’re choosing to take.” 

Mansueto believes that pedestrians should be responsible for his or her own actions. 

“If something happens to you because of that then you chose to take that risk,” Mansueto said. “But I don’t think you should be fined for taking that risk. It’s a good idea, but I’m against it.”  

As for a solution or an alternative to the distracted passenger law, Mansueto argues it is the parent’s responsibility to teach their children pedestrian safety. 

“I don’t think it’s a matter of having a law, I think especially parents who have kids who have cell phones should be enforcing it,” Mansueto said. “Saying, teaching them, ‘Hey, you shouldn’t look at your phone while you’re crossing the street.'” 

Although Mansueto disagrees with the new law, CUH students like Jaron Goo and Nonglak Kapileo agree and understand why this law should be passed. 

“You’re still kinda looking around and you still have a decent idea because you’re not completely oblivious to what’s going on,” Goo said. “But when you’re on [a] cell phone, your focus goes there and it’s like you really don’t know whether or not a car’s coming.”  

Crossing the street while texting is a habit that can be hard to break and Goo admits to it. 

“I mean of course it would suck if you got caught,” Goo said. “I know for myself if I do do that sometimes, like I don’t think it’s a bad thing because it’s something we shouldn’t be doing anyways.” 

Kapilo, a 20-year-old business major at Chaminade University, also agrees that this law should exist, despite its restrictions. 

“What if it’s for emergencies, and plus cars have to stop when it’s a red light,” Kapilo said. “I think it’s not okay if you’re texting while crossing the street. It’s also for our own safety, I understand that. A part of me thinks that we shouldn’t have this law, but it does make a lot of sense. It’s for our safety.”  

Honolulu is now the first major U.S. city to ban texting or viewing a portable device while crossing a crosswalk.