Texting distracts movement even when not on wheels

Distracted driving isn’t the only transportation danger posed by texting, as distracted walking can result in harm as well. Some media reports indicate a rise in texting while biking even. What people don’t seem to realize is that walking with eyes on one’s phone and not on their surroundings can get them seriously injured or killed.

We’re all familiar with the woman who went viral in a video after she walked and fell into a fountain in the middle of a mall while texting. Such stories are in the media everyday: people walking into moving traffic, fountains, walls, creeks, lakes, bridges, curbs and other immovable objects. In many instances the injury may be only to one’s dignity. In other cases, it may be a broken leg or arm, serious cuts, bruises, scrapes and puncture wounds, not to mention concussions. Other distracted traffic walkers have not been lucky enough to survive to tell their stories.

According to emergency room data reviewed by “Stateline,” distracted walkers who have been injured due to using their cellphones and not watching where they were going have increased by 35 percent since 2010. The data comes from Pew Charitable Trusts. In fact, some of the most recent research suggests that at least 10 percent of the 78,000 pedestrian injuries in the United States in 2012 were the result of distracted walking. But it’s not just texting and walking that is deadly. Wearing headphones and listening to music can also lead to fatal situations. According to the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), the use of portable e-devices, including music players, causes just about six deaths a year.

In response to an increasing mobile hazard – the tidal wave of distracted walkers – many American cities are starting to implement fines, and even lower speed limits for those who aren’t watching where they are going. It seems moderately absurd to think a city would lower their speed limit to keep pedestrians safe, when pedestrians don’t exactly appear to be looking out for their own safety. Ultimately, the classic “don’t drink and drive” tagline is going to have to evolve to include “don’t text and drive,” “don’t text and walk” and who knows what else.

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