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Texting While Walking Often Leads to Injuries: Expert

Distraction causes people to fall down stairs, step into traffic, trauma doctor says

THURSDAY, March 6, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Texting while walking causes more -- although usually less serious -- injuries than texting while driving, according to an expert.

"When texting, you're not as in control with the complex actions of walking," Dr. Dietrich Jehle, a professor of emergency medicine at the University at Buffalo, said in a university 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."

People who text while walking can bump into walls and other obstacles, fall down stairs, trip over objects or step into traffic, he noted.

While injuries from texting and driving are usually more serious, injuries from texting and walking occur more often, explained Jehle, who is also an attending physician at Erie County Medical Center, a trauma center in western New York.

He believes that the number of injuries caused by texting and walking is higher than official figures indicate, because people are reluctant to admit they've been hurt while doing something embarrassing.

Jehle pointed to an Ohio State University study that found that the number of pedestrian cellphone-related injuries treated in emergency departments tripled between 2004 and 2010, even though the overall number of pedestrian injuries decreased during that time.

The study also found that people aged 16 to 25 have the highest risk of suffering injuries while walking and using a cellphone.

Attempts to introduce laws to restrict texting while walking have failed, Jehle said. If you can't stop texting while walking, he suggested you use apps that text via voice command or that use the phone's camera to show what's in front of you while you text.

More information

The American College of Emergency Physicians offers pedestrian safety tips.

SOURCE: University at Buffalo, news release, March 3, 2014

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