Commentary on the Proposed Pedestrian Ban on Ipods Cell Phones and other Listening Devices

New York may the first state to prohibit the use of iPods and other handheld devices like cell phones and those ubiquitous Blackberries that are all the rage right now. State Senator Carl Krueger wants to fine anyone using an iPod in a crosswalk $100 in addition to a summons to show up in court to defend their right to keep on rocking in the free world.

Krueger points to the rash of fatal iPod-related traffic accidents that is plaguing New York streets. Well, actually, he only refers to one such incident, where a 23-year-old man walked into the path of an oncoming bus, but the death rate is sure to shoot right up. The bill that Krueger is proposing will make it illegal to use any portable device, like mp3 players and cell phones, pdas and gaming devices. Also, you will not be able to use these devices while power-walking in city parks with through-streets, which in NYC means all of them.

Krueger laments that he could not have been there in 1977 when the fateful “Summer of the Sony Walkman” took the lives of two pedestrians. He said he was around for the Game Boy-related death of young Timmy O’Toole, accidentally backed into by a school bus, but his hands were tied as he was just an intern in the state senate back then. Krueger said that he vowed then and there to make sure that he would be able to do something to prevent more deaths related to small electronics devices, which actually account for 1 death in 150 million, per the Institute for Astronomically Small Chances of Things Happening.

The history of music and communications-related pedestrian fatalities goes back to the first time that Marconi and a small staff were moving equipment across the street to a new facility. A slow-moving street car hit one of Marconi’s assistants, and crushed another’s hat. Other notable deaths include a man in San Francisco that was run down by a truck delivering transistor radios in 1967, causing a riot between young students and teamsters.

Other bans are also being considered in other state’s legislatures across the United States. Philadelphia wants to ban deaf and hearing-impaired pedestrians from their city crosswalks. Chicago wants to ban visually-impaired pedestrians from the popular Lakefront pathway along Lake Michigan, claiming that they can’t see the scenery anyway. And California wants to ban pedestrians in Los Angeles altogether.

Opposition to Krueger’s ban is mostly from those that say that they were taught to look both ways before crossing the street.