Ever had a person walk into you because they were paying too much attention to the phone in their hands? Texting while walking poses a safety risk to pedestrians, impairing the ability to walk in a straight line and maintain normal posture, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Queensland’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Science put 26 participants through their paces in three 8.5 metre walking tests.
The tests involved three scenarios: walking while not looking at their mobile phone, walking while reading their mobile phone’s screen, and walking while typing on their mobile phone.
Reflective markers were attached to the participants’ heads, torsos, pelvises and heels, recording their walking performance with motion capture cameras.
The study results found participants walked faster and in a straighter line when they were not looking at their mobile phones.
While looking at their mobile phones, participants flexed their heads down and put their torsos into a rigid position, affecting both posture and balance.
Nine participants reported having experienced a previous accident while texting and walking, “including falls, trips and collisions with obstacles or other individuals”.
In the US, the number of pedestrians injured while using a mobile phone in the last seven years has dramatically increased. Safety concerns have led police in the New Jersey town of Fort Lee to start issuing fines to pedestrians caught texting while jaywalking.
Closer to home, a tourist nearly drowned after falling off St Kilda Pier in Melbourne while checking Facebook on their mobile phone in mid December.