UTA board approves fines for ‘distracted walking’

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 After several train accidents in recent months, the UTA Board decided in an 11 to 13 vote to create fines "distracted walking" on Wednesday.

The board created a $50 fine for "distracted walking" around UTA rail lines and a $100 fine for repeat offenders.  There have been 11 accidents involving both pedestrians and automobiles since the beginning of the year.

The fines could be given to those texting, talking on a cellphone, or listening to headphones near trains.

"Specifically, they list certain types of distracted behavior, but the ordinance does not limit it to these types of behavior," said Gerry Carpenter, UTA spokesman.  "It includes everything from texting, talking on the phone, reading a book or a newspaper, listening to headphones.  Any sort of distracted behavior that would prevent someone from being as aware as they should be when they are crossing the railroad tracks in front of a train."

UTA attorneys said if fines go unpaid, the offenders could be banned from using buses and trains.

UTA Police said they hope the new ordinance will warn people about the dangers of not paying attention while walking and help save lives.

During the first several weeks, UTA Police will be taking an educational approach and information individuals who appear to not be following the ordinance.  They said it would be a few weeks before they begin issues tickets.

Related: Recent stories about UTA accidents and other UTA news.