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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Don't walk and text

We all know that using a cell phone while driving is a bad idea. Apparently, it’s not much better to use a cell phone while walking. Jack Nasar of Ohio State University and Derek Troyer of the Ohio Department of Transportation confirmed this unsurprising result.

Pedestrians who are talking on phones tend to have inattentional blindness. That is, they don’t notice what’s going on around them. This can be problematic when people are trying to do things like navigate city streets. 

Using data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), which collects information directly from hospital emergency rooms, the authors found that 3.7% of pedestrian injuries are caused by talking on phones while walking. In comparison, only 2.3% of driver injuries are caused by mobile phone usage (that's a lot of injuries, so don't take this as permission to use your phone while driving. Plus, of course, injuries received while driving can be much more horrific). You can also see that the injury rate for pedestrians has been climbing, though that might be due to increased mobile phone usage. 

Full-size image (30 K)

Consumer Product Safety Commission national estimate of injuries related to cell phone use among pedestrians and drivers.
Accident Analysis & Prevention, 57, 91-95 DOI: 10.1016/j.aap.2013.03.021.

The best part of this story were the examples of pedestrian injuries:
23 year old male walking on the middle line of the road talking on a cell phone and was struck by a car, contusion hip 
14 year old male walking down road talking on cell phone, fell 6–8 ft off bridge into ditch.
And my favorite:
28 year old male walked into pole talking on phone and lacerated brow.

Nasar, J., & Troyer, D. (2013). Pedestrian injuries due to mobile phone use in public places Accident Analysis & Prevention, 57, 91-95 DOI: 10.1016/j.aap.2013.03.021.

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