By Lindsay Martell / Top Tech News. Updated February 09, 2007.
When it comes to clothes, some people would rather keel over and die that go without a favorite sweatshirt or baseball hat. For the gadget-lover, it's no different. You can see those famous white iPod headphones in the ears of music fans just about anywhere you travel.
But one lawmaker has had just about enough of the gadget-loving masses. He wants pedestrians to stop plugging in and to start waking up to the potential hazards of urban life. He's pushing a proposal to make plugging in while crossing New York streets a crime.
New York Senator Carl Kruger (D), who represents the 27th district of New York, plans to introduce legislation that would ban the use of handheld devices such as BlackBerries, iPods, and portable video games while crossing streets in major New York cities, such as Buffalo, Albany, and New York City itself.
"What's happening is when they're tuning into their iPod or BlackBerry cell phone or video game, they're walking into speeding buses and moving automobiles," Kruger said in a statement. "It's becoming a nationwide problem."
State of 'iPod Oblivion'
In several letters responding to our initial coverage of Kruger's plans, gadget fans are saying the problem isn't the devices, but rather the legislative assaults on rights to carry them.
"Are you kidding? Do we still live in America?" wrote Therion93, an iPod user. "If we, as free Americans, choose to don iPods or talk on cell phones or fiddle with BlackBerries and step in front of a moving bus, we deserve to get run over by a bus or suffer the other obvious consequences of that type of behavior."
Therion93 went on to say, "If I choose to, I will listen to my iPod when I want to, without some petty government bureaucrat meddling in my affairs."
Another reader, this one by the name of Caldomer, chimed in with similar sentiments, saying the proposal smacks of government abuse. "If I get run over by a car because I'm preoccupied with my tunes, Spanish lessons, etc., it's my own fault," wrote Caldomer. "I don't need to legislate every aspect of my life."
Other readers said they wondered whether the proposed ban would lead to additional odd restrictions down the line. "The fact [that] this ban is being brought up is ridiculous," wrote a reader by the name of Tykroos. "If electronic gadgets are banned, what is next? Eating while crossing the street? No intense conversations with a friend because they might lead to an argument? Chewing gum?"
Enforcing iPod Ban?
The majority of readers writing in expressed opposition to the planned ban, but some did agree with Senator Kruger in saying that fidgeting with devices while crossing a street might lead to accidents.
"There is nothing wrong with listening to headphones," wrote RealShady345. "We have been doing this since the advent of the Walkman. The problem is that people look down at their iPod and BlackBerry screens."
While Kruger has not cited statistics indicating an increase in accidents that might coincide with media player sales data, he pointed to the death of a 23-year-old Brooklyn man who donned his iPod headphones and walked into the path of a city bus.
Kruger also noted that, since September, three pedestrians in the Brooklyn area have been killed by traffic while using an iPod. In one case, according to Kruger, a plugged-in device blocked someone from hearing warnings from fellow pedestrians to stop.
"You can't be fully aware of your surroundings if you're fiddling with a BlackBerry, dialing a phone number, playing Super Mario Brothers on a Game Boy, or listening to music on an iPod," Kruger said.
Kruger is firmly behind his proposal, even if enforcement would be tough. Under the bill, pedestrians and bicyclists caught using any kind of electronic device while crossing a street would be hit with a $100 fine. Walkers, runners, and bicyclists would be able to use their devices only within the confines of city parks.