Lithuania’s phone-addicted pedestrians will have to do without mobile devices when they cross streets under a new regulation approved on Wednesday as the Baltic country seeks to curb traffic deaths.
“Pedestrians must not use mobile devices before stepping onto the street or walking across it,” Transport Minister Rokas Masiulis told a cabinet meeting that was broadcast live.
Starting next month, crossing the street while talking on or checking a phone could cost Lithuanians a fine of up to 40 euros ($46).
Pedestrians must avoid any actions that could distract their attention from the environment and traffic situation, including using mobile devices, the government’s decision reads.
“Probably we all agree that pedestrians who are crossing the street at pedestrian crossings often don’t pay enough attention to their participation in the traffic. All steps aimed at encouraging pedestrians to act more responsibly must be seen as positive,” Vytautas Grasys, head of Lithuanian Road Police Service, was quoted as saying by local media.
Municipal video surveillance systems at public places will help monitor how the new rules are respected, Grasys said.
Last year, 68 pedestrians were killed by cars or motorcycles in Lithuania, a eurozone member of 2.8 million people.
The rate of Lithuanian pedestrian deaths is the third worst in the European Union, after Romania and Latvia, according to the latest official data.
According to the updated road rules, the drivers will be also obliged to stop and let pass of the pedestrians who are yet to cross the street.
Car drivers will be also obliged to keep at least 1 meter distance while outrunning cyclists if the car’s speed is less than 50 km/h and 1.5 meter distance if the speed is over 50 km/h.
Lithuania has imposed a ban on people using mobile phones at the wheel without handsfree equipment since 2002.