Special Reports

Texting And Walking Results In More Injuries Than Distracted Driving


Physical harm resulting from texting and walking occurs more frequently than distracted driving, according to a recent study.

Researchers from the University at Buffalo found that although injuries from car accidents involving texting are more severe, distracted walking results in more injuries per mile than distracted driving.

Consequences of texting and walking include bumping into walls, falling downstairs, tripping over clutter or stepping into traffic.

"When texting, you're not as in control with the complex actions of walking," Dietrich Jehle a professor of emergency medicine at the University, said in a statement. "While talking on the phone is a distraction, texting is much more dangerous because you can't see the path in front of you."

Jehle added that pedestrians face three types of distraction: manual, in which they are doing something else; visual, where they see something else; and cognitive, in which their mind is somewhere else.

Researchers said tens of thousands of pedestrians are treated in emergency rooms across the nation each year. Jehle said he believes as many as 10 percent of those visits result from accidents involving cell phones.

The number of mishaps involving texting and walking is likely higher than official statistics suggest, as patients tend to underreport information about themselves when it involves a behavior that is embarrassing.

Historically, pedestrian accidents affected children, the intoxicated or the elderly, Jehle said. However, cell phone related injuries have skyrocketed over the past 10 years, coinciding with the rise of smartphones.

The issue is so common that in London, bumpers were placed onto light posts along a frequented avenue to prevent people from slamming into them, researchers said in a press release.

Jehle suggests that pedestrians keep their eyes off their phones until they reach their destination or that there be mobile applications that text via voice command or use the phone's camera to display the approaching streetscape while pedestrians text.

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