National Public Radio reported this morning on a growing trend of injuries due to cell phone distraction: a young weight lifter texting while working out drops a weight on himself; a cyclist texting while riding falls and scrapes up his face. In January, the New York Times covered the same subject—highlighting data showing that the number of pedestrians winding up in the emergency room for cell phone-related injuries has been doubling each year since 2006. Apart from a handful of supertaskers, people are generally bad at most things—from driving, to walking—when also using our cell phones. And while some marketers have cashed in on wayward, stumbling cell phone addicts—by putting pads on telephone poles to prevent pedestrian injuries—researchers are increasingly wondering what drives people to prioritize the virtual world of their gadgetry over the real world around them.
For the most part texting-while walking injuries are humiliating at worst—as in the case of a young woman who walked into a glass window of a shop while texting her boyfriend—but in other cases of cell phone multitasking, especially behind the wheel, the consequences are more serious. Referring to a study conducted by researchers at Ohio State University, the Times reports that emergency room visits often stem from multitasking gone wrong:
“Examples of such visits include a 16-year-old boy who walked into a telephone pole while texting and suffered a concussion; a 28-year-old man who tripped and fractured a finger on the hand gripping his cellphone; and a 68-year-old man who fell off the porch while talking on a cellphone, spraining a thumb and an ankle and causing dizziness.”
Despite more widespread knowledge about the dangers of texting-while-driving, and even the fact that it is a secondary offense in some states—meaning a police officer can’t pull you over just for texting, but can add that offense if you get pulled over for speeding or something else—many people continue to do it, at times with fatal results.
Do you text or talk while driving? Or have you ever had an embarrassing pedestrian accident due to cell phone distraction? What do you think is the best way to discourage people from using their cell phone behind the wheel, or while walking down a crowded street?