The NSW Police, who allow people to jaywalk against the traffic, now want to penalise users of Smartphone and iPods while crossing a road in a move that is set to create controversy.
In other moves the Pedestrian Council of Australia is pushing for the labelling of Smartphone’s and electronic device by manufacturers as “dangerous devices” similar to what the Tobacco Industry has been forced to do with cigarette packages.
The Council who has been running a marketing campaign showing people with lamb heads using their gadgets while crossing the road at a red light under the banner “Lambs to the slaughter, wait for the green”.
The council’s spokesman, Harold Scruby, told Fairfax Media that there should be a much stricter legislation and enforcement campaign to complement his awareness campaign. He also said device manufacturers had a “moral and corporate responsibility” to put warnings on their mobiles and music players.
Scruby also criticised current laws that allowed drivers to operate vehicles and bicycles with an earbud in each ear (“they don’t hear tooting, fire engines, police vehicles, ambulances…”) and said police were generally not enforcing laws governing people crossing roads.
According to senior NSW police officers, the proposed introduction of new laws governing the use of Smartphone and electronic devices when crossing a road or riding a bicycle is a “good thing”.
They said “should legislation such as that described be introduced, it would receive our support and on-going attention”.
Back in 2007 when the idea was first muted the NSW Police State Traffic Commander John Hartley, said at the time that “you can’t legislate against stupidity”.
Now there appears to be a change of attitude following a move by several US states including New York to introduce new laws relating to “device” use.
In New York, a bill is pending in the transport committee that would ban pedestrians, using electronic devices while crossing the street. Offenders would be fined between $US20 and $US100.
Australian motorists can be fined as well as incur the loss of three demerit points for driving a vehicle while using a mobile phone.
People with learner or P1 provisional licenses are prohibited from using their phones while driving, with or without a hands-free.