NJ town proposes fines for texting and walking in streets

MAPLEWOOD, N.J. — It’s the latest safety measure in the sleepy town of Maplewood: fining pedestrians who text and walk in the street.

The measure was introduced by town Committeewoman Nancy Abbott. Offenders would be fined a nominal fee at first, but higher prices will accompany repeat offenses. The measure is in the proposal phases now.

But is it truly a way to make streets safer— or just a cash grab? Residents of the Essex County town were weighing in.

“I’m all for it,” Kristen Peck said.

If passed, it would be the latest in a series of safety-themed ordinances.

Gas-powered leaf blowers were nixed last spring for being too noisy. Plainclothes cops patrol crosswalks to catch drivers and fine them if they don’t stop for pedestrians. The town is exploring handing out reflective arm bands to late-night walkers to make them more visible to drivers.

“I admit, I get too involved in my phone and I’m guilty of not paying attention to cars. I’ve almost been hit. If there were a fine, it would get my attention,” said Terry Lyle, of East Orange.

Husband and wife pre-dawn runners Carol and Mark were outfitted head to toe in reflective gear and blinking safety lights Tuesday morning. They like the idea of safer streets but weren’t sure it was the best way for taxpayers money and officers’ time to be spent.

“I think it depends on when and where they enforce it,” they said, completing each other’s sentiments.

And one outlier shared a more conspiratorial idea.

“I think it’s a thinly veiled way to force the cops in town to actually work,” they said. “If you put them on pedestrian duty, they need to show up on the streets here. That’s the real story.”

Naturally, this conspiracist would not share his name.
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