For years, national safety campaigns sponsored by mainstream celebrities and important government agencies have tried to impress upon drivers the dangers of texting behind the wheel. While distracted driving remains a critical threat to road safety, another dangerous behavior has also attracted the attention of safety advocates: texting while walking.
Texting or running an application on a Smartphone often requires an individual’s full attention. For most people, it is almost impossible to text and keep both eyes on the path ahead of you. This is part of what makes texting so hazardous for motorists, and the same theory applies to people traveling on foot. Pedestrians with their heads buried in their cell phones easily forget to watch their step and can cause a serious pedestrian accident involving themselves, other pedestrians, and nearby drivers.
A study from Ohio State University found that more than 1,000 emergency room visits during 2008 were caused by texting pedestrians, or distracted walkers. While perhaps the most common injury caused by a distracted walking accident will be to the pedestrians’ ego, this issue has been acknowledged as a serious safety risk by organizations such as the Governors Highway Safety Association.
Texting pedestrians may accidentally wander into the street or fail to look both ways before entering an intersection. Very quickly, this negligence could cause a car accident, potentially injuring both the pedestrian and the people within the vehicle.
Some US states have tried to impose bans on texting while walking, similar to the laws against texting behind the wheel. So far, none of these efforts have been successful, but if future injuries continue to pile up such bans may gain more credibility.
Source: Boston.com, “Caution: Texting on foot a hazard.” Beth Teitell, 17 May 2011