The Operations – West Bureau of the Los Angeles Police Department recently sent out a community flyer urging citizens to “look up – phone down” when walking. It makes sense that you should watch where you are going but apparently distracted walking is becoming a public safety issue, just like texting while driving. (Hopefully, you are not driving or walking while you are reading this!)
According to LAPD, texting while walking makes you less aware of your surroundings, making you more vulnerable to becoming a victim of a crime. Your phone can easily be removed from you hand. Criminals target distracted persons. Cell phones and music devices are often stolen during use.
And, of course, a distracted walker can be injured by tripping and falling or walking into traffic. But you’re not even safe in your home.
According to Injury Facts, published by the National Safety Council, fifty-two percent of distracted walking incidents involving cell phones happen at home – not adjacent to roadways, as many may believe. According to a their study, distracted walking incidents involving cell phones accounted for more than 11,100 injuries between 2000 and 2011.
- 52% of cell phone distracted walking injuries happen at home
- 68% of those injured are women
- 54% are age 40 or younger
- Nearly 80% of the injuries were due to a fall
While cell phone distracted walking injuries were most common among women and those ages 40 and younger, the study found the issue is impacting all age groups. Twenty-one percent of those injured were 71 and older. Talking on the phone accounted for 62 percent of injuries, the most common of which were dislocation or fracture, sprains or strains and concussions. Nearly 80 percent of the injuries were due to a fall.
The rise in cell phone distracted walking injuries parallels the eight-fold increase in cell phone use in the last 15 years. Cell phones aren’t going away but we can use them more safely. Consider holding your phone up higher in your visual field so that you can see better, or look up more often to check your surroundings.
There’s also a tech solution, of course. Let your phone read messages to you and use voice recognition typing. Or consider using an app designed to help those texting while on the go – Type n Walk is available for $1.19 in the iOS App Store and the free Walking Text from the Google Play Store, recommends Safety.com.
Or, you could just walk, look around and enjoy our lovely neighborhood. Who knows, you might run into a friend doing the same thing.