Honolulu, on the island chain of Hawaii, has become the first US city to ban pedestrians from looking at their mobile phones while crossing the road.
The city has introduced fines for using electronic devices for text messaging, surfing the web or similar distractions on zebra crossings, according to media reports.
The fine is up to US$35 (RM146) for those caught the first time, increasing to up to US$99 (RM415) for those caught several times. The ban applies not only to mobile phones and smartphones, but also to tablets and videogames, Hawaii News Now reported online.
One reason for the law is the number of pedestrians killed in traffic. Almost 6,000 pedestrians died on US roads last year, according to US federal states' estimates.
If correct, the figures represent an 11% increase compared with the previous year, according to a statement by the GHSA, which represents the US state and territorial highway safety offices.
Critics have described the mobile phone ban as an intrusion into private life, and accused the authorities of over-regulation. Honolulu's mayor, Kirk Caldwell, also expressed reluctance at the signing of the law in July.
"Sometimes I wish there were laws that we did not have to pass, that perhaps common sense would prevail. But sometimes we lack common sense," he said. — dpa