Green Room

Finally! Government Tackles The Scourge Of “Distracted Walking”

posted at 6:08 am on March 31, 2012 by

You name it and there are some power hungry government tyrants out there who want to regulate it. They want to decide which toilet and lightbulbs you use, what sort of food you’re allowed to give to homeless people, and whether Catholic nuns are going to be forced to hand out free condoms to anyone who comes into their hospital. Is there any bit of minutia in American life, anything at all, that someone in the government somewhere doesn’t want to regulate? Apparently not.

While some Utah Transit Authority board members argued that the threat of being killed by a train should be enough potential punishment for “distracted walking” around rails, the board decided Wednesday also to impose fines for it.

The board voted 11-3 to create a $50 civil fine for distracted walking around UTA rail lines, and repeat offenses would cost $100. It comes after a rash of train accidents in recent months.

The new ordinance says examples of walking while distracted include — but are not limited to — talking on cellphones, listening to music with headphones, texting, “attending to personal hygiene” or reading newspapers or magazines while crossing tracks.

So taking a call from your wife, reading the paper, or listening to Justin Bieber now merits a $50 fine if a policeman in Utah arbitrarily decides it’s “distracting” you? Isn’t listening to Justin Bieber punishment enough in and of itself? Then there’s “attending to personal hygiene.” What, are they having a big problem with people brushing their teeth on the train tracks? Any government agency that thinks it’s appropriate to fine people for not paying enough attention when they’re walking needs to be taken down a peg or two on general principle.

John Hawkins is a professional writer who runs Right Wing News and Linkiest. He’s also the co-owner of the The Looking Spoon. You can hear more from John Hawkins on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, G+, You Tube, & at Pajamas Media.

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teacherman on March 31, 2012 at 1:53 PM

Guess I won’t move to Utah either. Is there no place safe from Californiazation?

PattyJ on March 31, 2012 at 3:08 PM

And Utah is a pretty conservative state. It just goes to show, people run for office to change the way government works, and end up being changed themselves.

How is it that a state with such strict drinking laws have so many politicians who are drunk with power?

rogaineguy on March 31, 2012 at 5:43 PM

listening to Justin Bieber now merits a $50 fine

Well, that part I agree with.

What about two people who are deep in conversation and not aware of their surroundings?

rbj on March 31, 2012 at 5:50 PM

rogaineguy on March 31, 2012 at 5:43 PM

You have to realize that this Transit Authority is in Salt Lake City and no more resembles the rest of the State than say, Austin does Texas.

TooTall on March 31, 2012 at 5:53 PM

Remember that video a week or so ago of the reporter doing an interview who walked right into a pole? Seems like just letting people suffer the consequences of their own stupidity might suffice here.

Dee2008 on March 31, 2012 at 5:58 PM

Walking and chewing gum at the same time?

$50 fine, you menace to society.

(Justin Who?)

Socratease on March 31, 2012 at 5:59 PM

Wouldn’t the Darwin Award be punishment enough? Eventually people who aren’t willing to pay attention will go extinct. Other than that they should require the persons estate to cover counseling for the train engineer who struck the person.

RAN58 on March 31, 2012 at 6:10 PM

My company has been on a kick about this same thing. We are castigated for reading our Blackberries while walking. However, the best nanny rule they came up with recently is they have spot checkers at the tops of our stair cases to make sure we’re holding the railing.
I’m so not kidding.
Although, since they haven’t written it as policy yet, I make a point NOT to. When they remark, I say, “Oh thanks, but I already have a mama!”

RadioAngel on March 31, 2012 at 6:14 PM

“attending to personal hygiene.”

So now I can’t pick my nose near a choo-choo train track? Adjust my, er, junk? Wow…

Al_H on March 31, 2012 at 6:16 PM

Policemen should be required to wear a “Mommy” device on their uniform someplace.

Device in this context being a “uniform device” or the array of various badges and insignia that make up a uniform.

crosspatch on March 31, 2012 at 6:21 PM

Actually, having watched people walking straight out into the street while doing most of the activities mentioned in the article, oblivious to oncoming traffic, completely absorbed in their own little world, without even bothering to look to see if there is an oncoming vehicle, I can agree with the necessity to try and get these people’s attention.

I don’t want to run over them, and I don’t want to have to deal with being on a train that they are stupid enough to step out in front of it, either. I’m just trying to get through my day without a person who is apparently stupid forcing me to have to render them first aid until the EMT’s arrive, and/or see their bloody, mangled body.

Unfortunately, we see an increasing number of people every day who apparently don’t value their own safety, or even their own life, enough to pay attention to the world around them. Let’s face it. We’re seeing people every single day who are DRIVING A VEHICLE, often at high speeds, while engaged in all of the activities mentioned in the article as well as EATING or trying to discipline a child or control a pet.

Oh… and I’m thinking that ‘personal hygiene’ may well mean those persons we see gazing into a mirror while combing their hair or applying cosmetics.

I don’t care what you do with your day in most cases, so long as you’re not breaking the law or intentionally harming anyone…. just don’t do something reckless or negligent and make it become my business.

thatsafactjack on March 31, 2012 at 6:45 PM

Count me unsympathetic here. I live in DC where pedestrians totally immersed in their gadgets are a positive menace, wandering in and out of traffic like zombies.

And no, their getting hit by cars is not just desserts — remember, there’s a traumatized driver, too, whenever some bozo stumbles stupidly into the path of his vehicle (or worse yet, train).

I don’t give a rip how distracted people choose to be in their private lives, but this behavior is a serious public menace. If you want to play video games, stay off the friggin’ streets.

Chuckles3 on March 31, 2012 at 7:36 PM

Well it’s about time… Now if they can just go after the mouth breathers and crying babies… Two of the biggest distractions in the civilized world.

RalphyBoy on April 1, 2012 at 10:46 AM

Keep the government out of this:

Darwin will cure the problem….

landlines on April 2, 2012 at 11:26 AM