We all know distracted walkers — you know, the folks who can’t look up from their smartphones for long enough to watch where they’re going. Now a New Jersey lawmaker wants these walking hazards to be subject to tickets — and possible jail time.

New Jersey Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden) introduced the legislation this month that would slap a $50 fine and possible jail time on pedestrians who text while crossing the street. She points to the increased prevalence of pedestrian versus car collisions involving people using cell phones while walking, according to nj.com.

Under the bill, anyone found guilty of using a handheld phone while crossing the street would face the same penalty as jaywalkers, with half the fine going to educational programs on the dangers of texting while walking, according to the site. Persistent offenders could face 15 days in jail, according to philly.com.

“I see it every single day,” Lampitt said, according to the site. “Maybe they will think twice about it.”

New Jersey had the 10th highest pedestrian fatality rate nationwide in 2014 — at 1.88 per 100,000 — according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. New Mexico, Florida and Delaware had the highest rates. New Jersey has had 33 pedestrian deaths in 2016, and had 170 in all of 2015.

Nationwide, there were as many as 2 million pedestrian injuries related to cell phone use in 2010, and pedestrian deaths tripled between 2004 and 2010, according to the GHSA.

While many are comfortable with the act of using their mobile devices while walking down the street — 77 percent according to the Pew Research Center — it turns out that the act is not so safe.

Between 2005 and 2010, the number of pedestrians hospitalized for injuries relating to cellphone use grew sixfold, up from 256 in 2005, National Safety Council data showed. Research has shown that texting alters humans’ walking patterns and slows them down.

And injuries weren’t limited to the roads. The Safety Council’s data showed that more than half of injuries happened while people were walking and using their cellphones inside their homes. More than two-third of the injured were women, and slightly more than half were below the age of 40.

More than 1 in 5 of victims were 71 or older.

[Eyes down, minds elsewhere, ‘deadwalkers’ are among us]

“Of particular concern were the 170 pedestrian fatalities, which represent nearly 31 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities,” said New Jersey’s Department of Law and Safety. “When compared to the national average of 14 percent, New Jersey is clearly overrepresented and must continue to take action.”

One New Jersey doctor was candid about the potential impact of texting while walking.

“This is an intoxicant,” Dr. John D’Angelo, head of emergency medicine at Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth, N.J., said while holding a cell phone, according to nj.com. “It’s worse than alcohol or drugs for drivers and pedestrians. They’re less aware (of what’s going on around them).”

But Lampitt’s measure faces hurdles going forward. It’s yet to be posted for a vote and, she told philly.com, and she might have difficulty getting it passed. Similar measures have failed in Arkansas, Nevada and New York.


Deputy with purported memory loss convicted of theft

A former Loudoun County Sheriff’s Deputy accused of stealing more than $229,000 from the office’s asset forfeiture program has been convicted of four counts of theft.

The Washington Post (http://wapo.st/1SqcYz7 ) reports that 45-year-old Frank Pearson of Winchester was convicted Thursday, despite saying that he had suffered memory loss. He faces a maximum 10-year penalty on each count at his June 17 sentencing.

Pearson was indicted in July after nearly two years of investigation.

The thefts occurred between 2010 and October 2013. Pearson said he had amnesia that prevented him from remembering that time period, but he didn’t raise amnesia as a defense at the trial.

Pearson’s attorney Daniel Lopez says his client tried to plead guilty, but the judge would not accept it because Pearson had earlier said he had had amnesia.



As oil prices nosedived by two-thirds since 2014, a belief took hold in global energy markets that for prices to recover, many U.S. shale producers would first have to falter to allow markets to rebalance.

With U.S. oil prices now trading below $40 a barrel, the corporate casualties are already mounting. More than 50 North American oil and gas producers have entered bankruptcy since early 2015, according to a Reuters review of regulatory filings and other data. While those firms account for only about 1% of U.S. output, based on the analysis, that count is expected to rise. Consultant Deloitte says a third of shale producers face bankruptcy risks this year.

But a Reuters analysis has found that bankruptcies are so far having little effect on U.S. oil production, and a tendency among distressed drillers to keep their oil wells gushing belies the notion that deepening financial distress will prompt a sudden output decline or oil price rebound.

Texas-based Magnum Hunter Resources mhr, the second-largest producer among publicly-traded companies that have filed for bankruptcy, is a case in point.

It filed for creditor protection last December, but even as the debt-laden driller scrambled to avoid that outcome, its oil and gas production rose by nearly a third between mid-2014 and late 2015, filings show.

Once in Chapter 11, its CEO Gary Evans said the bankruptcy, which injected new funds to ensure it would stay operational, could help to “position Magnum Hunter as a market leader.”

The company did not respond to a request for comment for this story. However, John Castellano, a restructuring specialist at Alix Partners, said that all of the nearly 3,000 wells in which Magnum Hunter owns stakes have continued operations during its bankruptcy.

Production figures can be hard to track post-bankruptcy, but restructuring specialists say that many bankrupt drillers keep pumping oil at full tilt. Their creditors see that as the best way to recover some of what they are owed. And as many bankrupt firms seek to sell assets, operating wells are valued more than idled ones.

“Oil companies in bankruptcy do not seem to automatically curtail production,” said restructuring expert Jason Cohen, a partner at the Bracewell firm in Houston. “Lenders are willing to let them continue to produce as long as economically viable.”

For most companies in bankruptcy or considering it, maximizing near-term production does make economic sense. Day-to-day well operating costs in most U.S. shale fields remain well below $40 a barrel. Bankrupt firms are also eligible for new financing that can allow them to keep pumping for some time.

50 and Counting

At least 20 publicly traded companies have filed for creditor protection since the start of 2015. They held at least 95,000 barrel of oil equivalent per day (boepd) in production, according to their last disclosed annual output figures. Another 30 or so privately held companies also have gone bust, in what already is the biggest wave of North American bankruptcies since the subprime mortgage crisis.

They account for just over 1% of U.S. output, but the figure is set to grow with banks expected to slash credit lines to energy firms in their biannual review of borrowing limits in April.

In what could become the most high-profile reorganization in the sector, Oklahoma City-based SandRidge Energy sd confirmed on Wednesday that it has hired advisers to review its options, including a bankruptcy filing.

About a million barrels of U.S. oil production, over a tenth of the total, is under the control of firms considered “financially challenged” estimates Rob Thummel, a portfolio manager at Tortoise Capital Advisors.

Yet even if many more firms go bust, production is not expected to fall much.

“I could see (bankruptcies) as a marginal contributor to lower supply, but if you ask me could it ever move the needle, the answer is no,” said Bill Costello, a portfolio manager at Westwood Holdings Group.

The reason is the remarkable gains in productivity of U.S. oil rigs in recent years. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that a well drilled late in 2015 produces twice as much as one from late 2013.

As a result, the EIA forecasts output will only drop 7% this year to 8.7 million bpd, even after U.S. oil and gas producers have shed more than 100,000 jobs, slashed spending and idled 75 percent of rigs since the end of 2014.

Many bankrupt firms can sustain their output thanks to so-called debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing for operating and other expenses made available by existing creditors, banks, or private equity firms.

Magnum Hunter, for example, received $200 million in DIP funding, and so far is being run by the same management as before its bankruptcy.

Many distressed producers have also drawn down their credit facilities or skipped bond payments prior to filing to conserve cash.

Among the companies reviewed by Reuters, Swift Energy sfy Samson Resources, and American Eagle Energy all chose to skip interest payments ahead of bankruptcy filings, citing ongoing talks with lenders to restructure their debt.

With operating expenses for existing U.S. shale wells between $17 and $23 per barrel, most companies can keep pumping unless oil falls below $20 per barrel, says David Zusman, chief investment officer of Talara Capital Management.

What bankrupt and financially stretched producers are unable to do is drill new wells and since output from shale wells can fall as much as 70 percent during their first year, a sustained lull in drilling would gradually erode U.S. production.

Ultimately, the number of bankruptcies may matter less than the lack of funding. The lending reviews now underway are likely to leave more companies without sufficient credit to finance new drilling, analysts say.

“We could see a 150,000-200,000 bpd fall in oil production if financially challenged producers were to slow spending,” said Thummel.

I read a news report sometime back that OPEC had kept lowering prices to shut down American producers, appears it is working.