It’s currently illegal in California to use a handheld mobile device while you’re operating a motor vehicle.
But what about if you’re walking through a crosswalk?
If the Lathrop City Council chooses to so when they meet on Monday, Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. inside of the Council Chambers at Lathrop City Hall – located at 390 Towne Centre Drive – it could soon be illegal to use your cell phone while walking across signaled intersections in town.
According to the staff report, the item was suggested for placement on the agenda by Councilmember Jennifer Torres-O’Callaghan. Staff is recommending two options to the council to consider – either adopt an ordinance that prohibits pedestrian use of cellular devices while in crosswalks with enforcement procedures, or install signage at crosswalks to discourage the use of cellular phones while in crosswalks.
The “distracted walking” law concept made international headlines when it was adopted in Honolulu, Hawaii back in 2017 as a way to combat the dangerous practice of wearing earbuds and staring at a screen when navigating high traffic areas.
Some cities in California, like Montclair, have since followed suit and adopted ordinances of their own while large, pedestrian-heavy cities like New York have considered similar bills to try and prevent deadly accidents.
While signalized intersections will be the focus of the ordinance, the council could also opt to include intersections within a set number of feet from local schools that don’t have a signal as a way to encourage safe walking habits in areas where traffic and pedestrians clash twice every day – at the start and the end of school. There are currently 24 unsignalized intersections within 100 feet of a school inside of Lathrop’s city limits.
Either of the options before the council include a provision that will allow for up to $30,000 from the general streets repair reserve fund for the signage necessary to inform pedestrians of the safety precaution. If the council were to include unsignalized intersections as well and place decals or signage near schools, it could cost almost $22,000 for just the 24 that have been identified by city staff.
To view the proposed ordinance, or to look at other items on the agenda, visit the City of Lathrop’s website at www.ci.lathrop.ca.us.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.