People Who Are Distracted Walking Blame Everyone Else For Being Distracted, According To Study

We’re used to hearing that we shouldn’t text and drive, but there’s a lot less public discussion of the fact that texting and walking is a real issue, too — one that can lead to collisions, falls, and even serious injury. A recent poll by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and Ipsos Public Affairs reveals that most Americans think that walking while texting, talking on the phone, and zoning out to music is a serious problem; but the study also found that most people blame distracted walking on others — and rarely recognize the behavior in themselves. So, basically, we’re all walking around with our heads buried in our phones, getting annoyed by other people whose heads are buried in their phones, and blaming them for the inevitable crashes we get into, because we’re all a bunch of jerks. #thejoysofmodernlife

According to the survey, 78 percent of Americans regard distracted walking as a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” issue. Unsurprisingly, most people (74 percent) think that distracted driving is a more serious problem than walking, but 43 percent of respondents admitted that distracted walking can lead to serious injury and more than half regard it as “risky.”

Here’s where things get funny: The poll’s participants claimed that 74 percent of other people are almost always or sometimes engaged in distracted behaviors like texting or playing with their phones while walking. However, only 29 percent said the same could be said of their own habits. Something’s not adding up here.

The tendency of respondents to remark on other people’s distracted walking without applying the same lens to themselves extended to more specific questions. For example, only 28 percent of participants said that they use their phones to text, check email, and play games while walking, but 85 percent reported seeing others do it. Similarly, 37 percent said that they walk and talk on the phone at the same time, but 90 percent said that they see other pedestrians chatting on the phone as they walk. As a press release from AAOS suggests, the survey carries a distinct whiff of “[I]t's not me, it's you.”

Although the majority of the poll’s respondents acknowledged that distracted walking is a real problem, many also seem to take the issue fairly lightly, with 22 percent saying that distracted walking is “funny” and 46 percent regarding it as “embarrassing (in a silly way).” The AAOS is urging people to treat distracted walking as a serious problem. A spokesman, Alan Hilibrand, MD, explained, “Today, the dangers of the ‘digital deadwalker’ are growing with more and more pedestrians falling down stairs, tripping over curbs, bumping into other walkers, or stepping into traffic causing a rising number of injuries — from scrapes and bruises to sprains and fractures.”

The AAOS has a number of recommendations to help people avoid pedestrian collisions. For starters:

  • If you’re wearing headphones, keep the volume quiet enough that hear what’s going on around you.
  • Say “No” to jaywalking.
  • Pay attention to the people and things in front of you as you walk.
  • Look up and ahead as you walk, instead of looking down at your feet, so that you can see traffic, other people, and obstacles.
  • If you need to do something that will distract you from walking — like having a conversation with the person next to you, texting, calling someone, or looking something up on your phone — move to the side, away from other pedestrians. Only join pedestrian traffic again when you’re able to pay attention to your surroundings.

The organization points out that “[t]raffic can be especially busy during the holidays,” so be extra careful to be aware of where you are and what you’re doing, on the street and in parking lots and public spaces.

Images: Giphy (1, 2)