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Bay Area Lawmaker Proposes Ticketing Cell Phone-Using Pedestrians

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- You see it everyday. Someone walking across a street, unaware of their surroundings, oncoming pedestrians or traffic because they are focused on their cell phone.

San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa wants the dangerous practice to end and is proposing a law that would allow a distracted walker to be ticketed by police.

"I mean, people can die looking at their cellphones," Canepa said. "(The new law) basically asks to ban distracted walking."

Canepa believes pedestrian accidents --currently one quarter of all traffic fatalities -- are increasing because walkers pay too much attention to their screens rather than the street. And YouTube is full of videos of that happening. So Canepa is introducing a new resolution.

He wants a new state law authorizing police to cite pedestrians who look down at their phones while in the crosswalk.

"Whether it's looking at text messages, Facebook, Twitter…that's what we're doing," he said. "So this is a 21st Century solution to a 21st Century problem."

While Canepa is passionate about his proposal, some see it as just another example of government trying to save people from themselves.

"You can't really tell how much, like, they pay attention to the traffic," said Tiburon resident Marlene Soerensen. "I think that's a tough call to make."

Napa resident Yousef Saleh feels likewise.

"And we have the right to text and walk," Saleh said. "And everybody is responsible for their actions…so, you know, you shouldn't make rules for everybody."

But San Francisco Muni driver Antonio Marquardt says while pedestrians are distracted, they're also over-confident.

"They assume because they're a pedestrian you have to stop for them," Marquardt said. "But what if the driver of the car is texting to and he's not looking?"

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