Texting & Walking Can Be More Dangerous Than You Think

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Texting and walking is likely a form of multitasking you don't think about anymore, simply because you do it so often. But it turns out that texting while walking is one of the riskiest things pedestrians can do. (I guess your boomer uncle was right?) More than roaming the sidewalks while talking on the phone or jamming with your noise-cancelling headphones, texting while walking is dangerous for you and those around you, CNN reports.

You know that that horrifying feeling when you step into the street and just avoid the oncoming taxi? Well, according to science, texting while you walk dramatically increases your risk of those near misses on the road. A recent study, published in the journal Injury Prevention, you're much less likely to actually look left and right before walking if you're texting while crossing the street. Rates of getting hit by cars and scary close calls increase when you're texting, the study found. The study looked at traffic accidents involving 14 pedestrians and pulled data from the broader samples from over a dozen separate studies.

If you're reading "almost" getting hit by cars and laugh in the face of danger, think again. Texting while walking also increases your risk of regular non-car related injuries, according to a 2019 study published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. Over the last 20 years, the number of cell phone-related injuries has been steadily growing. Most of these injuries come from young folks, ages 13-29, doing everyday things with their phones, like — you guessed it — texting while walking.

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Injuries from being distracted by your phone, the study found, tend to feature gashes to people's face and head, including some internal brain injuries from especially hard head collisions. (Think walking right into a street sign or coming to a sudden arboreal stop.) The rates of these kinds of injuries shot up in 2007, along with the release of the first iPhone, and have been rising every year since.

You might really need to respond to that text from your boss who has no sense of boundaries, or from the date you've kept waiting for nearly 40 minutes, but whoever it is will probably be more upset if you wind up hurt. Your next brilliant emoji combination can wait until you're fully across the street.

Studies Referenced:

Simmons, S.M. (2020) Plight of the distracted pedestrian: a research synthesis and meta-analysis of mobile phone use on crossing behaviour. Injury Prevention, https://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/early/2020/01/05/injuryprev-2019-043426.info.

Povolotskiy, R. (2019) Head and neck injuries associated with cell phone use. JAMA Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery, https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaotolaryngology/article-abstract/2756314?guestAccessKey=7365d177-20a7-4233-aa3f-75181d35d038&utm_source=For_The_Media&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=ftm_links&utm_content=tfl&utm_term=120519.