2017-03-17 / Viewpoint

Texting and walking can be a dangerous combination

PERSPECTIVE
BY TERRILL FORD
Army News Service

We live in a world that is completely controlled by our mobile devices, meaning we are spending more time looking down than looking up. This trend is leading to more accidents and health issues.

We all know that texting and driving can be dangerous, right? Just in case you are unaware here are some statistics to illustrate just how dangerous texting and driving can be. Texting while driving causes:

• 1,600,000 accidents per year -- according to the National Safety Council

• 330,000 injuries per year -- Harvard Center for Risk Analysis Study

• 11 teen deaths EVERY DAY – Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

• Nearly 25 percent of ALL car accidents

Similarly, texting while walking is the leading cause of near-misses and accidents in the workplace. Dr. Dietrich Jehle, a professor of emergency medicine at the University of Buffalo in New York, said in a 2014 news 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.” The same news release cited a study from Ohio State University. It said, “The number of pedestrian ER visits for injuries related to cell phones tripled between 2004 and 2010 -- even though the total number of pedestrian injuries dropped during that period.”

There have been a number of accidents and near misses involving people texting and walking. During cold or inclement weather, people walk the halls for exercise. Oftentimes they are reading emails or texting messages and not paying attention to where they are walking, and they can easily run into someone exiting a doorway or rounding a corner -- especially if they aren’t paying attention, either. Outside, we have to add moving vehicles to the equation.

To prevent accidents of this nature from occurring, safety officials recommend the following:

• Do not text and walk in parking lots or while attempting to cross the street. Instead, place your mobile devices in your briefcase, book bag, purse or pocket until you reach your destination.

• Do not attempt to text and walk at night or in the early morning hours. Visibility is already restricted by darkness and adding a task that will take your eyes off the direction of travel will only increase your chances of having an accident.

• Do not attempt to text and walk while carrying boxes or other large items because you will need both hands to secure the load you are carrying. Attempting these at the same time may not only cause you to drop and damage the box and its contents, but you may also trip and fall and receive serious injuries.

In closing, do not text and walk (or drive). Watch where you are going and pay attention to open doors and aisles in the hallways, as well as moving vehicles in the parking lot.

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