Distracted walking poses same risks as distracted driving

We often write about the dangers of distracted driving, and more specifically how texting or talking on a cellphone while driving can increase the likelihood of being involved in a car accident. But distracted walking is also a danger, and using a cellphone while walking might actually lead to more injuries than using a cellphone while driving.

Recently, researchers from Ohio State University collected data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System on cellphone-related emergency room visits. The data included all injuries caused by using a cellphone while walking, biking and driving between 2004 and 2010.

What they found might surprise you: More pedestrians sought emergency room treatment for cellphone-related injuries than drivers. They also found that most of the injuries suffered by pedestrians occurred when the pedestrians were simply talking while walking, not text messaging.

The researchers attributed this phenomenon to “inattention blindness.” In one example of inattention blindness from the emergency room data, a 28-year-old patient walked into pole while talking on a cellphone and suffered a lacerated brow. In another example, a patient who was 14-years-old fell 6 or 8 feet off a bridge into ditch while talking on a cellphone.

The researchers noted that a majority of the pedestrians who were injured while distracted walking were males and under the age of 30. Ultimately, it appears that distracted walking is especially problematic among members of the millennial generation who are male, but really anyone could be at risk.

In fact, the researchers found that about one in three people continue to use their cellphones while crossing busy streets, which includes both men and women of all ages. Pedestrian accidents can be very serious, especially when a motor vehicle is involved, which is why it is so important to pay full attention while crossing busy streets.

Source: The Atlantic, “Study: ‘Distracted Walking’ Causes More Injuries Than Distracted Driving,” Lindsay Abrams, June 20, 2013