Fine pedestrians for texting while crossing the street, Montreal asks province
City wants police to have power to fine those unwilling to pocket their cellphone at intersections
The City of Montreal is asking the province to make it illegal for pedestrians to text while crossing intersections.
At a public consultation on road safety hosted Monday by the provincial auto insurance board, a representative of Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre proposed giving police the power to fine pedestrians for the transgression.
"We're asking for the government to take the necessary measures to save lives," said Aref Salem, the executive committee member responsible for transport.
Toronto made a similar request of its provincial government last year, but was turned down. Councillors in Vancouver have also proposed banning cellphone-use while walking in crosswalks and on roadways.
Montreal's proposal found some support from a lobby group for the province's trucking industry.
"If pedestrians are texting while they're crossing streets, they could certainly be involved in a car or truck accident," said Marc Cadieux, president of the Quebec Trucking Association.
"This is where we have to find a bit of dissuasion towards pedestrians."
Beware of the 'zombies'
Last year, a study conducted by HEC Montreal's Pierre-Majorique Léger found that 30 per cent of people who text while walking make bad decisions because they're not concentrating.
"They're in a zombie-like state," Léger said at the time. "They're so concentrated on their phones, but blind to their external environment. They're like zombies."
The consultations on road safety are being held around the province. Lobby groups, businesses, politicians and the public are able to make recommendations on the issue.
Among the other ideas floated on Monday was a renewed appeal by some Montreal-island mayors to allow motorists to turn right on red lights.
Montreal is the only jurisdiction in the province where the manoeuvre is illegal, but in his presentation Salem reiterated the city's opposition to revising the rule.