Texting Pedestrians at Greater Risk of Injury, Study Finds

It's hardly surprising that young adults who text on cell phones while walking may be may prone to trip or make contact with obstacles.

A study published in the December 20144 issue of the Journal of Applied Biomechanics evaluated how texting as they walked affected the gait of of 30 young adults who reported they texted on a regular basis. Comparing the subjects' normal gait with their walking performance while texting on cell phones, the authors found the texting caused them to slow down, and their step width and double stance time increased, while toe clearance, step length, and cadence decreased.

"Although many of the changes in spatial and temporal parameters generally accompany slowed gait, the complex distraction task used here may have amplified these potentially deleterious effects. The combination of the slower gait velocity and decrease in attention to the surrounding environment suggests that an individual who is texting while walking could be at a greater risk of injury. Tripping injuries while texting could be more likely due to the decreased toe clearance. In addition, increased step width may increase the likelihood of stepping on an unstable surface or colliding with obstacles in close proximity," the article's summary states.

The authors are Nicholas D. Parr and Chris J. Hass, both of the Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology at the University of Florida, Gainesville; and Mark D. Tillman, formerly with the University of Florida and now with the Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion at Troy University (Troy, Ala.)

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