D.C.'s Council For Court Excellence Wants Action To Curb Distracted Walking

WASHINGTON -- Plenty is known about the dangers of distracted driving. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood rails against it regularly. Jurisdictions across the nation, including the District of Columbia, have prohibited the use of cellphones while driving without hands-free devices.

Now one group in the nation's capital would like extend similar rules to local pedestrians. This week, the Council for Court Excellence issued a report that calls on District of Columbia leaders to enact more stringent rules for distracted drivers and bicyclists, but also people crossing the street while listening to music, talking on the phone or texting.

As the Washington Examiner reports:

The group made up mainly of lawyers, judges and business leaders calls for the D.C. police to increase its traffic safety unit. It recommends the city ban all electronic devices in moving cars -- a step further than the current rule requiring hands-free devices for cell phone users. It also seeks to limit such devices for bicyclists and most notably for pedestrians when they cross streets.

As The Washington Post reported in January, a recent study pointed out the dangers of walking with headphones, which can lead to "a form of sensory deprivation called 'environmental isolation.' That's a fancy way of saying the earphones block out external sounds -- such as horns and sirens."

Although some states have considered distracted pedestrian legislation, they can be a tough sell. A bill introduced last year in New York state that would have imposed penalties on distracted pedestrians stalled in committee.