Police charge teenager for using cell phone while cycling - First in Japan

Police have charged a teenager for using a cell phone while cycling, in the first such case of its kind in Japan, Nikkan Gendai reported on Wednesday.

Around 9:30 p.m. last Sunday, a patrolman in Hiratsuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, cited a 15-year-old female high school student for committing a traffic offense. The girl, a first-year high school student, had been riding her bicycle while viewing images on a cell phone and repeatedly disregarded warnings to desist viewing the phone.

“Speaking through his portable megaphone, the officer warned her four times that using a cell phone while riding a bicycle was illegal,” a source at the Hiratsuka police station relates. She continued to disregard the warning and was issued a ticket.

The incident marked the first time for Kanagawa police to invoke the revised traffic ordinance, aimed at discouraging so-called “nagara unten” by cyclists who talk on cell phones or listen to music players while in motion. It went into effect on May 1.

“She apparently thought cyclists were not subject to traffic regulations,” the source was quoted as saying, adding that violators may be fined up to 50,000 yen, (US$500.00)

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