“When texting, you’re not as in control with the complex actions of walking,” says Dietrich Jehle, professor of emergency medicine at the University at Buffalo. “While talking on the phone is a distraction, texting is much more dangerous because you can’t see the path in front of you.”
While injuries from car accidents are more serious, Jehl reports that walking-related ones – including bumping into walls, falling down stairs and stepping out into traffic are far more prevalent. This is because texting is breaking all three of the ‘distraction rules’: the pedestrian’s mind is elsewhere; they are distracted visually, and they are distracted cognitively (ie, there mind is somewhere else).
According to Jehl, tens of thousands of pedestrians are treating in emergency rooms each year, and 10 percent of these are mobile phone-related injuries. The actual statistic is also most likely to be higher, as experts believe that mobile phone offenders have a high probability of masking the truth surrounding their injury.
And with the rise in social media, there are more mobile phone distractions than ever; it’s not uncommon for people to be scrolling their Facebook and Twitter news feeds while strolling the streets.
One study from Ohio State University found that the number of pedestrian ER visits for mobile-phone related injuries tripled between 2004 and 2010, and this is despite the fact that the total number of pedestrian injuries dropped during that period. Experts are confident the spike is most likely related to the rise in smart phone use.