A new proposal from New York City lawmakers would ban crossing a street while listening to headphones or talking on your cell phone. Walking, running, exercising — no matter what you're doing, no crossing traffic wearing headphones. Similar legislation is pending in Oregon and California, where some are hoping to ban cyclists from listening to headphones while riding. While the move may seem a bit extreme for New York, there's some merit in such a law. Supporters link the behavior to distracted driving, arguing that being distracted while walking or biking is just as dangerous as distracted driving. But is it fair to pass a law that essentially requires people to pay attention? That seems a little ridiculous . . . or does it?
Thing is, I might actually support such regulation. And before you call me crazy, hear me out after the break.
While living in New York, I was wearing a set of headphones while walking near a busy intersection. I was crossing a street with the walk signal when a car came barreling down the street — I didn't hear it because of my headphones. A man walking behind me pushed me out of the way of the car, which ran the red light (thankfully not hitting anyone or anything).
So while I see the case against regulating the use of headphones on the street, I'm also personally invested in the fact that, even if you are paying attention to traffic signals, not being able to hear your surroundings can be equally as dangerous. But is it not enough to rely on individuals' good judgment? Do we really need a law to tell us?