Everyone knows about the hazards of texting while driving, but now it seems that pedestrians who text may be just as dangerous.
According to results from a recent study, texting while walking causes a significant distraction, and could potentially put pedestrians in great jeopardy. Researchers at the University of Queensland evaluated twenty-six smartphone users who had owned their smartphones for at least three months and were regular users.
A three-dimensional movement system consisting of eight cameras set in specific locations monitored every motion from head angle to body position. Test subjects were then asked to perform a series of tasks which included, walking in a straight line, attempting to walk a straight line while reading a text, and attempting to walk a straight line while texting. After reviewing the footage on the cameras, researchers came to some interesting conclusions:
• Reading or sending a text message caused the participants to walk at a slower pace • Reading or sending a text message altered the participants’ balance due to reduced head movement and arm swing • Reading or sending a text message prohibited the participants from walking in a straight line
Even though it can sometimes be amusing to witness a walking texter stumble around, experts agree that it is a very dangerous endeavor. When a pedestrian is not focused on the task at hand, they could easily walk into objects or other people, fall down stairs, or wander into the path of oncoming traffic.
In the United State, the number of pedestrians injured while using their cell phones has steadily increased since 2006. As a matter of fact, one recent Ohio State University study found that 1,500 pedestrians were sent to emergency rooms across the United States to receive treatment for smartphone-related injuries in 2010, almost doubling since 2005. In addition, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that texting distractions were a possible contributing factor in the 4,280 pedestrian fatalities recorded for 2010, a four percent increase over the previous year.
The issue has become such a problem, that, according to Time.com, lawmakers in at least five states have attempted to pass laws that address distracted walking.