NOW HEAR THIS--if you can: anybody who wears headphones on the streets of Woodbridge Township in New Jersey may be in for a rude awakening. With no audible dissent, the town fathers there have approved an ordinance prohibiting the wearing of headphones on the streets--be it by motorist, cyclist or pedestrian. The ordinance, which is subject to approval by the state department of transportation is generating more than a little static in the township's nine communities.
The question is whether people clamped into these transcendental decibels can give full time and attention to maneuvering safely. If you've watched those glassy-eyed, wired people as they doo-wop, boogie or waltz on down the street, you do have to wonder if they aren't electronically stoned. But should this result in a possible fine of up to $50 or 15 days in jail--or both? Juvenile offenders--no small faction in this instance--may not be fined under this provision unless a police officer files a juvenile complaint and then serves the minor with a summons to appear in court.
We're inclined to favor clamping down on the motorist or cyclist, whose ability to destroy others is considerable. But the pedestrian who crosses to a different drummer at least can look both ways before stepping out. Similarly, joggers can keep eyes peeled for trouble. And perhaps, like those who actually are hard of hearing or totally deaf, they may develop sharper other senses to compensate.
There is a proposal applying only to motorists that is under consideration in a state senate committee--and headphones notwithstanding, it deserves a hearing.