Study: Texting While Walking Could Be Dangerous

Researchers at University of Queensland found that the habit leads to uneven walking, a slower pace, rigid posture and poor balance

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Texting while walking poses a significant distraction to pedestrians and could even put them in harm’s way, a new study finds.

Researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia arrived at this conclusion based on a test of 26 volunteers, the AFP reports. Each subject was asked to walk nine meters in a straight line without distractions, and then repeat the walk a second time while reading from a mobile phone and a third time while texting. Volunteers’ movements were monitored with a three-dimensional movement analysis system.

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The study found that subjects deviated from the line the most when they were texting.  They also walked slower with their heads and necks in a rigid posture. Texting also appeared to impact subjects’ balance.

The conclusions are consistent with anecdotal examples of how texting impairs walking. Just last month, a tourist walked of the edge of a pier in Melbourne, Australia while Facebooking on her phone. Fortunately, she was rescued.

Researchers in the United States have also warned about the dangers of “distracted walking.” An analysis of hospital data conducted at Ohio State University found that injuries involving cell phone use while walking more than doubled between 2005 and 2010. American cities are experimenting with techniques to prevent the practice as pedestrian deaths rise around the country.

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