Texting Affects Pedestrians’ Gait, Ability to Walk Straight

stoop.jpgThere is an increasing amount of evidence that texting while walking can be just as hazardous as texting while behind the wheel. Unfortunately, the dangers of these practices are very often brushed aside, and many pedestrians seem fine with reading and sending text messages while they walk, even if they wouldn’t do this while they drive. A new study finds that texting while walking significantly increases accident and injury risks, because it impacts the way the person walks.

The new research was conducted by Australian researchers, and the findings were published in the Journal PLOS One. In the study, the researchers analyzed the walking gait of 26 young men. These men were made to walk approximately 27 feet more than once. The first time they walked and read text messages, the second time while writing text messages, and the third time without any distractions.

Not surprisingly, the researchers found that when the persons were writing texts while walking, they found it much more difficult to walk in a straight line, compared to when they were reading texts while walking, or doing nothing while walking. When texting while walking, the participants seemed to walk like robots, with mechanical and stiff movements. Such rigid walking can be dangerous because it increases the risk of a fall. Besides, when people were texting while walking, they were also likely to walk slower than normal.

There have been several studies recently that have very clearly pointed to an association between texting while walking, and a high risk of accidents and injuries. Just last year, healthcare providers reported that they were seeing an increase in the number of pedestrians being rushed to hospital ERs because they were texting while walking. One study that was conducted in Seattle by researchers at the University of Washington found that pedestrians who were texting were approximately 4 times less likely to look both ways before crossing the street, and were also less likely to obey traffic signals. In another study conducted by Ohio State University, researchers found that more than 1,500 people suffered extreme injuries while walking, which was an increase of three times from previous years.

Unfortunately, although many states have taken the “texting while driving” problem seriously, and have enacted legislation banning the practice, they simply haven’t taken texting while walking as seriously. This is in spite of the fact that there are several studies pointing to an increase in the number of pedestrian injuries now from texting while walking.

You need your wits about you while walking, just as you do while you are the wheel of a car or truck. Texting while walking impairs your ability to detect accident cues and hazards in your environment, increasing collision risks.

The Indiana personal injury lawyers of Montross Miller Muller Mendelson Kennedy LLP represent persons of victims of car accidents across Indiana.