Reason TV’s Nanny of the Month is …

posted at 3:35 pm on February 1, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Reason TV had another round of tough choices for its Nanny of the Month in January 2011. I admit I hadn’t heard about the push to ban “beer pong” at bars in my former home city of Huntington Beach, California, but I did write about the creepy efforts to start random drug tests for middle-school children in a New Jersey district.  But instead of beer pong and adolescent urinalyses, Reason chose Carl Kruger of New York’s state senate, who wants to criminalize … distracted walking?

But top dishonors go to the New York pol who’s pushing a bill that would make it illegal to cross the street while iPodding, cell-phoning or being otherwise engaged with an electronic gadget.

Presenting Reason.tv’s Nanny of the Month: New York State Senator Carl Kruger!

Kruger isn’t alone in this effort.  The Arkansas legislature is also considering outlawing technologically fascinated pedestrians on their streets, claiming that they present a danger to themselves and others:

After targeting drivers who paid more attention to their phone calls and text messages than the road, lawmakers in Arkansas and New York are now looking to crack down on pedestrians equally distracted by their own electronic gadgets.

Lawmakers in both states have proposed restrictions on using cell phones and music players such as iPods by people running and walking on the street or sidewalk. The apparent message: Distracted pedestrians are dangerous.

“It’s not just distracted drivers. We focus a lot on distracted drivers, but we also need to focus on distracted walkers and joggers,” said Jonathan Adkins, a spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association, a nonprofit organization representing state highway safety offices.

The proposal in Arkansas would ban pedestrians from wearing headphones in both ears while on, parallel or adjacent to a street, road, intersection or highway. The measure also applies to runners and cyclists and would allow pedestrians to wear headphones in one ear.

At least Kruger’s proposal only applies when entering the road to cross it.  In Arkansas, simply staying on the sidewalk with earbuds in both ears would be illegal.  Surely there must be some national epidemic of deaths and dismemberments that is driving this push to stamp out distracted walking, right?  Right?  Er ….

Slightly more than 1,000 pedestrians visited emergency rooms in 2008 because they got distracted and tripped, fell or ran into something while talking or texting on a cell phone. That was twice the number from 2007, which had nearly doubled from 2006, according to a study by Ohio State University, which says it is the first to estimate such accidents.

Let’s just assume that the numbers kept doubling each year since 2008.  That means that 4,000 Americans needed medical treatment in 2010 for not paying attention to their surroundings — and for this, we’re going to criminalize walking while multitasking?  With such a relatively minute number of incidents, we’re going to give local police yet another mandate for enforcement on top of preventing more trivial crimes like rape, murder, burglary, and other such minor problems.

What it really does is give local and state governments another revenue resource.  I suspect that economics rather than public safety are at the heart of this particular nanny-state overreach.


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NYC should get it’s own nanny of the month and give the rest of the nation a chance once in a while.

abobo on February 1, 2011 at 3:40 PM

Can we still chew gum while walkin…Ouch!

Bevan on February 1, 2011 at 3:42 PM

What it really does is give local and state governments another revenue resource. I suspect that economics rather than public safety are at the heart of this particular nanny-state overreach.

Bingo! Follow the money…

sicoit on February 1, 2011 at 3:46 PM

Can we still chew gum while walkin…Ouch!

Bevan on February 1, 2011 at 3:42 PM

For now comrade….

sicoit on February 1, 2011 at 3:47 PM

Do these guys not understand we have 10% unemployment? Energy prices skyrocketing, foreclosures at a record high, gov spending out of control?
They don’t know that?

right2bright on February 1, 2011 at 3:47 PM

When all you have is a hammer,….

a capella on February 1, 2011 at 3:47 PM

“Driving while black” to be replaced as an offense by “being human in public”.

SKYFOX on February 1, 2011 at 3:47 PM

Are we going to be allowed to blog comment while being distracted? After all, ouch!

rbj on February 1, 2011 at 3:49 PM

And by golly, he’ll go through all three branches of gub’ment to get it passed too!

csdeven on February 1, 2011 at 3:51 PM

This had to be done.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6kVBGeQeR4

cpaulus on February 1, 2011 at 3:53 PM

I guess Liberals can’t do two things at once. Oh! my bad. They don’t believe we can two things at once.

IowaWoman on February 1, 2011 at 3:54 PM

AllahPundit, hardest hit.

upinak on February 1, 2011 at 3:55 PM

You do have to remember that this is New York — the place where automobiles have right of way over pedestrians.

unclesmrgol on February 1, 2011 at 3:57 PM

It’s not “clumsy;” it’s “coordinationally challenged.”

CurtZHP on February 1, 2011 at 4:00 PM

You do have to remember that this is New York — the place where automobiles terrible taxi drivers have right of way over pedestrians.

unclesmrgol on February 1, 2011 at 3:57 PM

ftfy

upinak on February 1, 2011 at 4:02 PM

Why don’t the outlaw vehicles from mowing down pedestrians in D.C. first? Especially federally owned vehicles.

Cindy Munford on February 1, 2011 at 4:07 PM

It sure will put a damper on the lawsuit of that woman who walked into a fountain at her local mall.

Scrappy on February 1, 2011 at 4:10 PM

I thought ‘progressives’ are always complaining about over-population. This is called ‘thinning of the herd’. If you are too stupid to survive, oh well.

RUReadingthis on February 1, 2011 at 4:11 PM

Why don’t the outlaw vehicles from mowing down pedestrians in D.C. first? Especially federally owned vehicles.

Cindy Munford on February 1, 2011 at 4:07 PM

Treacher would so approve!

upinak on February 1, 2011 at 4:15 PM

This guy ought to go back to the industrial smoothing business …

Jerome Horwitz on February 1, 2011 at 4:21 PM

upinak on February 1, 2011 at 4:15 PM

And from what he writes, he won’ be the only one. Apparently pedestrians are fair game in D.C. and they usually get the bonus jaywalking ticket as a prize. I must be fair and point out that all the vehicles involved are not government owned.

Cindy Munford on February 1, 2011 at 4:22 PM

So…if you won’t let us tax you, we’ll fine you. Bastards

ronsfi on February 1, 2011 at 4:41 PM

“…when people are doing things that are detrimental to their own well-being…”

Oh, you mean like voting for you?

Dopenstrange on February 1, 2011 at 4:45 PM

If listening to music is distracting, then why are car radios not only legal, but standard equipment in virtually every passenger vehicle?

Socratease on February 1, 2011 at 5:17 PM

To Control The People

Kini on February 1, 2011 at 5:21 PM

Besides Nanny-istic, we need to think of the economic consequences of such legislation. Without these distracted folks to film and display on national (international?) TV shows such as “World’s Dumbest”, there’d be less camcorder sales, less TV advertising, less medical payments, and more time to work only to pay taxes.

Vote NO on the legislation and let’s keep stimulating our economy and laugh glands.

Robert17 on February 1, 2011 at 5:23 PM

And by golly, he’ll go through all three branches of gub’ment to get it passed too!

Nah, NY only has one branch… the Dimmycrats.

n0doz on February 1, 2011 at 6:48 PM

N0doz: Hah!

“If your government tree doesn’t branch, you might be a liberal…”

Scott H on February 1, 2011 at 7:24 PM

I didn’t read the whole report but what use is the number of accidents occurring while texting without a total number of accidents and something relating the relative time for each?

OK, lets say that there were 1000 ‘Electronically engaged’(EE) accidents out of 5000 total Pedestrian accidents. If find that 30% of pedestrians are EE at any point in time, Texting would be SAFER than alternative pedestrian activities.

Or if that study found that the number of accidents involving people walking in groups of more than 3 was 1000 also, would these guys want to ban walking in groups of 4 or more?

Busy Bodies all.

OBQuiet on February 1, 2011 at 7:45 PM

Where does NY find these people or is there a breeding area somewhere.

jeanie on February 1, 2011 at 8:11 PM

Another day, another Government Tax-revenue law disguised behind the veil of “Public Safety”

Razgriez on February 2, 2011 at 8:59 AM

Now I can understand how Nero played the fiddle while Rome burned down.

kens on February 2, 2011 at 1:02 PM