ASSEMBLY, No. 3503

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

217th LEGISLATURE

INTRODUCED APRIL 4, 2016

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman  PAMELA R. LAMPITT

District 6 (Burlington and Camden)

Assemblywoman  VALERIE VAINIERI HUTTLE

District 37 (Bergen)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     “Pedestrian Safety Act”; establishes motor vehicle offense of unlawful use of hand-held wireless telephone by pedestrians on roadways.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

 


An Act concerning the use of wireless telephones by pedestrians and supplementing Title 39 of the Revised Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    This act shall be known and may be cited as the “Pedestrian Safety Act.”

 

     2.    a. The use of a wireless telephone or electronic communication device by a pedestrian on a public roadway shall be unlawful except when the telephone is a hands-free wireless telephone or the electronic communication device is used hands-free.

     b.    The pedestrian may use a hand-held wireless telephone on a public roadway as defined in R.S.39:1-1 only if:

     (1)   The pedestrian has reason to fear for the pedestrian’s life or safety, or believes that a criminal act may be perpetrated against the pedestrian or another person; or

     (2)   The operator is using the telephone to report to appropriate authorities a fire, a traffic accident, a serious road hazard or medical or hazardous materials emergency.  A hand-held wireless telephone user's telephone records or the testimony or written statements from appropriate authorities receiving such calls shall be deemed sufficient evidence of the existence of all lawful calls made under this paragraph.

     c.     The Chief Administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission shall develop and undertake a program to notify and inform the public as to the provisions of this act.  Notwithstanding the provisions of R.S.39:5-41, the fines assessed pursuant to subsection d. of this section shall be collected by the court and distributed as follows: 50 percent of the fine imposed shall be paid to the county and municipality wherein the violation occurred, to be divided equally, and 50 percent of the fine imposed shall be paid to the State Treasurer, who shall allocate the fine monies to the chief administrator to be used for this public education program, which shall include informing citizens of the dangers of texting while walking.

     d.    Any person who violates the provisions of this act shall be subject to a fine of $50 for each violation.

     e.     As used in this act:

     "Hands-free wireless telephone" means a mobile telephone that has an internal feature or function, or that is equipped with an attachment or addition, whether or not permanently part of such mobile telephone, by which a user engages in a conversation without the use of either hand; provided, however, this definition shall not preclude the use of either hand to activate, deactivate, or initiate a function of the telephone.

 

     2.  This act shall take effect on the first day of the fourth month following the date of enactment, except that the Chief Administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission may take any administrative action in advance thereof, as shall be necessary for the implementation of this act.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill establishes the “Pedestrian Safety Act” to prohibit a pedestrian on a public roadway from using an electronic communication device unless it is used hands-free, and also prohibit text messaging or sending an electronic message via a wireless telephone or electronic communication device.

     According to Injury Facts 2015, the statistical report on unintentional deaths and injuries published by the National Safety Council, distracted walking incidents involving cell phones accounted for more than 11,100 injuries between 2000 and 2011.  Fifty-four percent of those injured were age 40 or younger, and nearly 80 percent of the injuries were due to a fall.

     Under the bill, a pedestrian may use a hand-held telephone on a public roadway only if the pedestrian has reason to fear for his or her life or safety, or believes that a criminal act may be perpetrated against the pedestrian or another person; or the operator is using the telephone to report to appropriate authorities a fire, a traffic accident, a serious road hazard or medical or hazardous materials emergency.  As set forth in the bill, it is the sponsor’s intent that the provisions apply only to violations which occur in a public roadway, and not to violations which occur on a sidewalk.  As defined in R.S.39:1-1, “roadway” means that portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the berm or shoulder. In the event a highway includes two or more separate roadways, the term "roadway" refers to any such roadway separately, but not to all such roadways, collectively.

     A person who violates the provisions of the bill would be subject a fine of $50 for each violation.

     The bill requires the Chief Administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission to develop and undertake a program to notify and inform the public of the provisions of the bill.  The fines assessed under the bill are to be collected by the court and distributed as follows: 50 percent of the fine imposed is to be paid to the county and municipality wherein the violation occurred, to be divided equally, and 50 percent of the fine imposed is to be used for the public education program, including informing citizens of the dangers of texting while walking.

     The bill defines "hands-free wireless telephone" to mean a mobile telephone that has an internal feature or function, or that is equipped with an attachment or addition, whether or not permanently part of such mobile telephone, by which a user engages in a conversation without the use of either hand.  However, this definition does not preclude the use of either hand to activate, deactivate, or initiate a function of the telephone.