As more people bring a mobile device like a smartphone, cellphone or tablet into their daily lives, the chances of them getting injured while using it increases. A new study details just how many people were injured in the past 10 years or so while committing the act of texting or talking—while walking.
While distracted driving has garnered much of the attention recently, and states have begun to crack down on the act of texting, talking, or using a smartphone to check emails while driving, more and more people are injured while they’re simply walking and using their mobile devices.
According to a report from The New York Times, researchers have combed data included in the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System and found that injuries linked to so-called “distracted walking” have nearly tripled since 2004. In numbers, estimates from hospital emergency room visits suggest that about 559 people were injured because of distracted walking in 2004. In the last year of the study, 2010, a total of 1,506 people had to be treated at an emergency room because of a distracted walking injury. The injuries listed in the injury database were both serious and minor. Some injured by distracted walking have suffered concussions, seizures, and bone fractures, while others have sustained minor injuries like abrasions and sprains.
Several Dangers Threaten Distracted Walkers
Based on our previous accounts, distracted walking can put a person at risk of injury in numerous ways. A person more interested in reading or composing an email than in the approaching traffic, for example, could easily get struck by a vehicle.
Long Island roadways are already among the most dangerous in the tri-state area—for motorists. Distracted driving only compounds the dangers of distracted walking, making the risks that much more hazardous to both parties, according to our previous reporting.
In other scenarios, a person who has diverted much of their attention to their phone instead of other pedestrians could also cause harm. If someone were to suddenly stop on the sidewalk to check an email or text, for example, other pedestrians could walk right into them, causing injury.
Most of the injuries, about two-third, were reported among people under the age of 25, the study found. The New York Times quoted the study’s author, from Ohio State University, suggesting that people using cellphones and smart devices should “stop and stand off to the side” when texting and walking.