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Texting in crosswalk could cost you $500 in Chicago

Commentary: Two Chicago lawmakers propose a huge fine for those who text while strolling. That would be almost everyone, right?

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Chicago may not be her kind of town.

Chicago may not be her kind of town.

Richard Levine/Getty Images

It was one thing when Honolulu introduced fines for people who text while crossing a street. Those penalties range from $15 to $99.

Now Chicago is thinking about upping the stakes. Considerably.

As CBS Chicago reports, two city aldermen, Edward Burke and Anthony Beale, are proposing an ordinance that would fine those who cross the street while texting (or talking on their phone) up to $500.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office didn't respond to a request for comment. However, the mayor told CBS: "Everybody does it and then everybody is irritated when someone else does it. So my total view is I want to look at it. I think it has something to do with people's own safety."

It has something to do with people's sanity, too. 

Isn't it odd how we disappear into our gadgets and become entirely oblivious of even the world that immediately surrounds us?

It's unclear how many fatalities are directly linked to texting while walking. However, pedestrian fatalities as a whole increased by 11 percent last year, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. The group cited as a potential factor "distraction due to growing use of smartphone technology" by pedestrians and drivers.

Still, some might find Chicago's range of $90 to $500 a little steep for the fines. 

How are police officers going to decide whom to pull over when the majority of people are committing the offense?

Will they be secretly biased toward ticketing the texters rather than the talkers, as talking and walking is a little easier to perform safely than texting and walking? 

With the former, you can at least see where you're going. With the latter, well, tragedy awaits with every step. Why, some cities are even embedding traffic lights in sidewalks to tell texting walkers when it's safe to cross. 

Perish the notion that people could actually look up.

It's not clear what chance the proposed Chicago ordinance has of going into effect. 

If it ever does, many big cities will be watching to see how its enforcement is handled and received.