Texting While Walking Carries Greater Accident Risk Than Listening to Music, Talking on Phone: Study

New research suggests the risk of pedestrian accidents and injuries is greater when individuals are texting while walking, compared to distractions associated with listening to music or talking on the phone.

In findings published this week in The BMJ Injury Prevention, Canadian researchers indicate pedestrians are more likely to be injured by a vehicle or suffer a fall while engaged in texting or social medial while walking, noting that the overall rate of pedestrians injuries associated with cell phone distractions has increased 800%.

Researchers from the University of Calgary in Canada looked at data on how talking, text messaging, browsing, and listening to music affect the number of pedestrian accidents and injuries. The researchers pooled data from 14 other studies and found about 2 million pedestrian injuries related to cell phone use.

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According to the findings, the highest number of injuries or automobile accidents were associated with texting, followed by browsing the internet or social media. The injuries most associated with the behaviors were walking into light poles, tripping and falling, or being struck by a vehicle when crossing the street.

Researchers indicate that listening to music or talking on the phone were not as highly associated with injuries, however still pose an increased risk of injury.

The findings indicate an estimated 45% of pedestrians are distracted by their cell phones, and that since 2004, the rate of pedestrians injured by cell phone distractions has increased by roughly 800%. With approximately 270,000 pedestrians deaths recorded every year globally, making up about a fifth of all road traffic deaths, researchers indicated the risk of cell phone distracted injuries is ever-growing.

A similar study published in December 2019, found that injuries to the neck, face, eyes, nose and head have risen steeply over the last 20 years, finding most of the injuries occurred to people between the ages of 13 and 29 and were due to distracted driving, walking and texting with a cell phone.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also previously reported that pedestrian fatalities may be growing not only due to cell phone use and in-dash display touch screens in vehicles, but also because of pedestrian being distracted by texting or using the internet while walking.

A 2018 report found that year was the deadliest year for pedestrians in the last 30 years, continuing a ten year trend of increases for pedestrian deaths on U.S. roadways.

Over the last decade the number of pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. has increased by 35 percent, with more than 1,500 additional pedestrian deaths in 2017 compared with 2008.


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