Officials in the area, taking their cue from a new law that went into effect in Hawaii, have passed a law banning conversation of any kind among pedestrians crossing the street in the Hamptons.
“Distracted pedestrians are a huge problem,” says Glen Robie, a concerned citizen who is credited with suggesting the new law to officials.
In fact, Robie’s original suggestion called for a complete elimination of pedestrian crosswalks—crosswalks that Robie regards as inherently dangerous. In the end, however, he is happy with the current compromise, which is more comprehensive than the Hawaiian law.
“In Honolulu, they have banned pedestrians from looking at their cell phones while crossing city streets,” Robie explains. “I say, why stop there? There are lots of ways for people to be distracted.”
The new law, which is set to go into effect immediately, will allow police officers to issue tickets to pedestrians observed speaking with one another while crossing the street. Repeat offenders could lose their right to cross streets on foot entirely. A single virtue of the new law, says Robie, is that it puts the burden of pedestrian safety back where it belongs—on the pedestrians themselves.
“Look, drivers can’t be expected to see everything—we’ve got a lot on our minds as we’re driving down the congested streets in this area. Who knows—we might be talking on the phone, sending and receiving text messages while we’re trying to navigate these narrow streets. And if pedestrians aren’t looking out for themselves, why should they expect drivers to do so?”
Hamptons Police spokesman Larry Hirsch released a statement announcing that officers would begin enforcement of the measure immediately, and that several undercover assets would be assigned to police heavily trafficked crosswalks.