We all know that texting and driving is a big no-no. But what about texting-while-walking? A recent stunt in China, which included the creation of smartphone-free walking lanes, is highlighting the obsession we have with our smartphones and how it can harm us even while we walk down the street. If you are so addicted to using your phone that you rarely look up from it while walking, you could be putting yourself and others in danger.
The Dangers of Texting and Walking
It seems like common sense that being distracted by your phone while walking could be dangerous. You could run into someone, walk into the road and get hit by a car, or smack into something like a fire hydrant. It could be as simple as stepping off a curb and twisting your ankle. Now we have scientific evidence that you can’t walk and text at the same time and expect to be alert to dangers. The research comes from Australia and demonstrates that any use of a cell phone hampers one’s ability to walk in a straight line or maintain proper balance. Reading the screen is bad, but actively texting is worse. The result of this distracted walking has been more injuries related to texting and walking. Emergency room workers and other doctors report seeing more and more accidents caused by people using smartphones while walking. According to Ohio State University, local hospitals treated hundreds of people for cell phone-related injuries last year. This represents a three-fold increase from the previous year. Other areas report similarly large increases in texting-and-walking injuries.
Officials Bring Awareness to Texting and Walking
A city in China is forcing its citizens to think about the dangers of texting and walking and smartphone addiction. In Chongqing, officials divided up a stretch of sidewalk with a painted boundary line and signs designating one side for texting and walking and the other as a smartphone-free zone. The division was meant to be a public service announcement and not a real texting-and-walking lane. The officials hoped to make people think about the risks they take when texting and walking as well as the possibility of being addicted to one’s phone. In the U.S., some municipalities are also getting serious about distracted walking. Legislators in Arkansas, New York and other locations are introducing bills that would ban the use of phones while walking or at least when crossing streets. Fort Lee, New Jersey, has already banned texting and walking and police there have written more than 100 tickets to offenders. The sight of crowds of people walking on sidewalks, heads down, engrossed in their screens is becoming more and more common. Viral videos of distracted walkers getting into ridiculous situations are funny, but the matter is serious. People can be seriously injured or even killed when walking and texting. Another issue of concern is that of smartphone addiction. Why can’t people pocket their phones while crossing the street? Clearly it’s dangerous to text in the street. We all need to take a closer look at our cell phone habits. Are you addicted? Can you put your phone away when walking? If not, you may need to rethink your relationship with your phone.