During September’s Pedestrian Safety Month, San Mateo County officials proposed a ban on cell phone usage while crossing the street. Last year, the California Office of Traffic Safety, focused on reducing traffic-related deaths and injuries, introduced the resolution in response to a high increase of pedestrian deaths. The San Mateo County District hopes to decrease this number of deaths by making this proposal into a state law.
Supervisor David Canepa from the San Mateo County District 5 introduced this idea to the district and has been pushing to make this a law in California.
“The resolution the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors passed urges the state to amend the vehicle code to prevent the use of electronic devices while crossing the street … The ban itself was first initiated by the city of Honolulu in Hawaii earlier this year,” Canepa said. “Locally, I spearheaded the effort to urge state lawmakers to take up the issue … The resolution was drafted through collaborating with San Mateo County Counsel and then passed by the Board of Supervisors on a 5-0 vote.”
The reason for the implementation of the ban came from an incident that occured in California.
“I witnessed firsthand parents and youth using electronic devices as they were crossing the street on the first day of school in Broadmoor Village,” Canepa said. “It was literally chaotic.”
Creating and implementing proposals into a law is not a simple process.
“Such a ban would have to be instituted at a state level and then be the law in every city in California,” Canepa said. “Enforcement is always a tough issue. But like seatbelts in the past, it will take an education campaign to inform the public on why this effort will potentially save lives.”
The number of pedestrian deaths and injuries in the state has been increasing over the past decade.
“In 2016, 892 pedestrians were killed on California roadways, up 17 percent from 10 years ago,” Canepa said. “[The proposal] will lead to a much safer environment for pedestrians and drivers. If it saves just one life, then it’s a victory for everyone.”
Senior Sarena Yang recognized the importance of being attentive on the road.
“Just as drivers should be focused on the road, so should pedestrians,” she said. “Both drivers and pedestrians must be responsible and responsive.”
Many use their smartphones on a daily basis. However, inadvertently, electronic devices are a distraction.
“I think the cell phone ban is a beneficial ban for us to limit and prevent future accidents,” said junior Jocelyn Lee. “It should be common sense not to use your phone while crossing the street or sidewalk or anywhere, but sometimes you might forget and I think this is great way to put everyone in check.”