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Distracted Walkers Becoming More Hazardous

February 26, 2016

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We've all seen it and probably even done it ourselves. Walking down the street, in a mall, through a hotel, while looking down at our phones, checking texts, emails, maps, whatever, and suddenly we walk right into something, a person, a door, a hole. Distracted walkers are most common among millennials aged 18 to 34, but women aged 55 and older are more likely to suffer serious injuries, including hip fractures, according to a 2013 study in Accident Analysis & Prevention. Visits to emergency rooms for injuries associated with distracted pedestrians on cell phones doubled between 2004 and 2010. More than 1,000 people were hospitalized with shattered pelvises, head injuries, shoulder tears and rib fractures due either to a collision with a distracted pedestrian or because they were one themselves.

The National Safety Council says that the rise in distracted cell phone walking injuries is consistent with the increase in cell phone users. The nationwide increase in pedestrian deaths from such things as falling down stairs, getting hit by a car and walking into a glass door prompted the federal government to give grants to some cities to create a method to reduce distracted pedestrians. Peripheral vision drops to 10 percent of normal when a person is texting or talking on a phone while walking. Experts say regardless of the belief that multitasking is possible and safe, the human brain is really only designed to pay attention to one thing at a time. Do yourself and everyone else a favor. Pay attention to where you are walking. In addition to being a walking hazard, you're making yourself the perfect target for a robbery, and the best way to reduce your likelihood of getting robbed or worse, is to pay attention to your surroundings. That can't happen if you're tweeting, texting or playing with your phone while walking around.

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