After Hours

Will the government decide when and where you listen to your iPod?


As you may already know, several state laws forbid the use of cell phones while driving. Well, watch out pedestrians, because legislation is right around the corner to ban the use of iPods, BlackBerrys, and cell phones while crossing the street in major cities in the United States. Check out the news story: "N.Y. lawmaker hopes to ban iPod use in crosswalks."

According to the article, "[N.Y.] State Sen. Carl Krueger... claimed that the phenomenon of 'iPod oblivion' has led to a number of fatal accidents on urban streets. While he did not cite any statistical studies that have indicated a rise in such incidents, he referred to the January death of a 23-year-old Brooklyn man who, tuned into his iPod headphones, walked into the path of a city bus.

"The bill would effectively make it illegal to use any kind of portable electronic device—a music or video player, cell phone, smart phone, gaming device, etc.—while crossing the street in cities such as New York, Albany, and Buffalo. Offenders would be slapped with a $100 fine and a criminal court summons. Joggers and bicyclists would have to limit their iPod use to city parks in which no street crossing would be involved."

I understand the philosophy behind the bill, but I think forbidding electronic device use while walking is a little extreme. Put warning stickers on the devices, create informational advertisements that educate people about the dangers of "iPod oblivion," and then let people make their own responsible—or irresponsible—decisions. Personally, I can walk, listen, and chew gum at the same time.

How far will we allow legislation to go before we are stripped of all of our freedoms? That's a pretty scary thought.... 

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Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the several blogs.

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