If anyone knows the dangers of walking and texting, it’s this girl. Just two days ago, I was walking home in blizzard Janus and as I was texting my roommate to say I would be home soon, I was impaled by a falling icicle right on my texting thumb. And to make matters worse, it then bounced off my hand and splattered all over my brand new iPhone. I wasn’t a happy camper. However, new research from Australia is showing that there are also dangerous, long-term effects to walking and texting.
University of Queensland researchers used motion-capture technology to conclude that texting and walking affects balance and the ability to walk in a straight light. We pretty much knew that. But what we didn’t know is that it can damage the texter’s posture.
“I was checking emails while walking to work this morning,” admitted study co-author Wolbert van den Hoorn. “But it has a serious impact on the safety of people who type or read text while walking.”
And it’s also dangerous in the short-term. How many of us have nearly walked into a moving car while sending out that text to our nagging moms? I can’t be the only one!
The study also says that as mobile-phone use has grown to about 77% of the world’s population, the number of phone-related accidents has increased. U.S. emergency-room visits linked to phone use doubled between 2005 and 2010 according to an Ohio State University study.
For the actual Australian study, 26 volunteers were fitted with reflective patches on their heels, pelvis, heads and torso and told to walk 8.5 meters three times: once without a phone, once while reading a text and once while sending a text. Meanwhile, eight cameras recorded their actions. Turns out subjects walk slower with shorter strides while texting. More of a problem is that subjects locked their arms and elbows which forced their heads to move more and subsequently threw off their balance.
“In a pedestrian environment, inability to maintain a straight path would be likely to increase potential for collisions, trips and traffic accidents,” said Mr. van den Hoorn. “The best thing to do is to step aside and stop, or keep off the phone.”
So maybe the next time your friend Becky texts you asking for guy advice, you can just let her wait a minute. It would do Becky some good, honestly.