Stop Texting and Walking: You Could Hurt Yourself


We usually talk texting and driving, but texting and walking is a huge problem too—for pedestrians and drivers alike.

texting phone dangers teens
3 min read

According to numerous studies, we now spend approximately half of our waking hours looking at screens—around 8.5 hours on any given day. We also log more time on our cell phones than with our partners—119 minutes a day on average with our phones, versus just 97 with our poor, neglected significant others.

We text from the dinner table, from the board room, and even from the city streets we’re trying to navigate. If you’ve not yet bumped into a ped with their face in a phone (or been that texting-zombie-ped yourself), head to a college campus consider yourself lucky. Current estimates are rather sobering: One in three people are distracted by mobile devices while crossing the street, according to a study published in Injury Prevention. And in that same study, researchers found that people who were actually trying to text while walking took nearly two seconds longer than non-texters to cross three or four lanes of traffic. We know what a difference two seconds can make when we’re talking about driving dangers—plus, the texters also ignored traffic lights, didn’t look both ways, and crossed in an area that is not the crosswalk nearly four times more than non-texters.

The Consequences of Texting & Walking are Real

All of this distraction adds up to some serious injuries, of course:
Some tens of thousands of pedestrians are treated in emergency rooms nationwide each year for injuries sustained at the hands of texting and walking, and between 2005 and 2010, the number of pedestrians treated in U.S. emergency rooms for texting and walking injuries more than doubled, according to a study out of Ohio State University.

70 percent of us admit to texting and walking, but 88 percent of us say it's a bad idea.

“When texting, you’re not as in control with the complex actions of walking,” says Dr. Dietrich Jehle, a professor of emergency medicine at the University of Baffalo in New York, in a press release. “While talking on the phone is a distraction, texting is much more dangerous because you can’t see the path in front of you.”

Jehle also explains in the release that pedestrians face three types of distraction: manual, in which they are doing something else; visual, where they see something else; and cognitive, in which their mind is somewhere else. In this way, of course, texting and walking is no different from texting and driving.

It might seem self-evident, but that psychological temptation of a ping leads people into incredibly dangerous behavior, no matter how obvious it is that texting and walking isn’t the brightest idea. Plus, you’re not just a little more impaired while texting and walking: Another study at Stony Brook University also found that when people used their cell phones while walking, they tended to veer off course 61 percent more and overshot their target 13 percent more than when they were not distracted.

(See what happens when you text + walk?)

Plus, it’s Just Rude

Texting and walking is a lot like texting and driving: Most of us admit to it, and nearly all of us say we shouldn’t do it. Liberty Mutual compiled evidence that 70 percent of us admit to texting and walking, but according to another study, 88 percent of people think texting while walking is a bad idea. It’s not only unsafe, it’s inconsiderate, and one New Jersey city went as far as as banning texting while walking all together. What do you think—is the solution in governmental regulation, or good old common sense?