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New California city ordinance levies hefty fines for looking at a phone while crossing the street
People in Montclair, California, are looking at a fine if they're caught staring at their cellphones while crossing the streets. (Image source: KCAL-TV video screenshot)

New California city ordinance levies hefty fines for looking at a phone while crossing the street

Police officers in Montclair, California, are going to start cracking down on people who stare at their phones while crossing the streets. Violators could face substantial fines.

What are the details?

According to KCAL-TV, police began enforcing the ordinance, which is intended to prevent pedestrians from walking around the city distracted by their mobile phones, on Wednesday.

The Montclair City Council passed the ordinance in December, and it took effect in January.

According to KGO-TV, Jon Hamilton of Montclair said the ordinance is geared toward adolescents.

"Unfortunately, many of our children are turning into cellphone zombies, and while we do hope these drivers operating these machines coming down the road at high speeds are in fact paying attention, many are not," Hamilton told the news station.

The city gave residents time to acclimate to the new rule and did not being enforcing it until this week.

According to KGO, Police Chief Robert Avels said that within the first week of the law being passed, a child crossing the road while using a mobile phone was struck by a car.

"While it was not their fault in the collision, it still could have been prevented because they were actually on the phone and they were distracted when they entered the roadway and it resulted in them being hit by a vehicle," Avels said.

What does the ordinance say?

KCAL reported that under the ordinance, a pedestrian crossing a street is prohibited from talking on a phone, staring at a phone, or having ears covered or plugged with headphones or earbuds.

The only exceptions to the ordinance are those making emergency 911 calls, and those utilizing medically necessary hearing aids.

"No pedestrian shall cross a street or highway while engaged in a phone call, viewing a mobile electronic device, or with both ears covered or obstructed by personal audio equipment," the ordinance reads, according to the news outlet.

The first violation will run lawbreakers $100 in fines. The second violation — if committed within the same year — will bring a $200 fine with it. A third violation has a $500 price tag.

KCAL reported that Montclair is "among only a handful of cities in the nation which has such a law."

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