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Ban on using cell phone while crossing the street advances

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Crossing the street while holding a mobile electronic device such as a cell phone, video game, laptop or camera, would be banned under a bill in the City Council.

The proposal was advanced on first reading today and still must go through additional committee and Council readings before coming up for final passage.

Bill 43 amends the city’s ban on holding mobile electronic devices while driving — passed in 2009 — extending it to pedestrians crossing the street.

The 2009 law was aimed at stopping activities such as text messaging and video-game playing while driving, but law enforcement officials said a blanket ban was needed to make the measure enforceable. A police officer would only have to see a driver using a hand-held device, not determine what was being done, to issue a citation.

Honolulu Police Maj Kurt Kendro said the department was opposed Bill 43 because the restrictions were "over broad" for pedestrians and there were fears that any changes to the existing law could water down the ordinance.

Under Bill 43, simply holding an electronic device while crossing the street would be a violation of the law.

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