Lawmakers in Australia, New York, Oregon, Virginia and California are all considering legislation that would ban the use of music devices while riding a bicycle, arguing that electronics adversely affect traffic safety for pedestrians, runners, bike-riders and drivers.
A recent report from the Governors Highway Safety Association demonstrated a slight increase in pedestrian fatalities for the first time in four years.
The New York Times writes that New York's legislature's transportation committee wants to is considering banning "the use of mobile phones, iPods or other electronic devices while crossing streets — runners and other exercisers included."
Oregon's pending legislation addresses bicyclists with mobile phones and music players. California and Virginia are addressing bikers' use of "hand-held communication devices."
They say that the "auditory masking" created by listening through two earbuds prevents the brain from processing other important information, such as environmental cues.
Legislators in New South Wales have already banned the use of mobile phones in cars, even while stopped at a light, although hands-free use is allowed, and drivers can use music devices if they use only a single earbud. The Pedestrian Council of Australia has been running an ad campaign depicting gadget-using pedestrians as sheep.
Opponents of the ban say that it represents an infringement on personal rights and could mean institutionalization of "nanny state" policies.
Do you support or oppose this type of legislation? Does it help make us safer? Have your say in the comments below.
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(Image: Flickr member pmarkham licensed for use under Creative Commons. Black and white Image: Flickr member JaviC licensed for use under Creative Commons. Bike phone Image: Flickr member luxomedia licensed for use under Creative Commons)