Distracted Walking

Within the past few years, smart phones have gained the ability to do almost anything and have become more popular than ever. Unfortunately, this comes hand in hand with a new trend in accidents. According to National Safety Council (NSC), 11,100 injuries occurred between 2000 and 2011 due to distracted walking incidents involving cell phones. NSC also provided other statistics to determine the affected population and types of injuries.

• About 80% of these injuries were caused by a fall.
• 52% of injuries happened at home.
• 68% of the injured population was women.
• 54% of the injured population was 40 years old or younger.

It’s easy to overlook the seriousness of distracted walking, but this data shows that it is just as important to walk hands free as it is to drive hands free. Peripheral vision is drastically reduced by talking or texting, which can have disastrous consequences. Distracted walking can easily lead to slips, trips and falls pertaining to contact with walls, other people or even roadways. These accidents can leave people hospitalized with serious injuries. Follow these tips throughout the day to keep yourself (and others) safe, wherever you are.

• Use your phone only when you are seated or standing still. You could run into housekeeping hazards at home or work, and fail to notice them by focusing on your phone.
• Never use your phone on or near a staircase or ladder. Remember, a large majority of cell phone related injuries are due to falls, and steps can be particularly hazardous.
• If you need to take a call or otherwise check your phone, step out of the way of pedestrian traffic. But be sure that you keep your eyes on the path and your surroundings to prevent someone else from running into you.
• Do not use headphones when walking. This can lessen your awareness and prevent you from hearing car horns, voices or other noises that could serve as warnings.
• Pedestrians are most vulnerable at intersections, so pay close attention to drivers and crosswalk signs. Never rely on cars stopping for you and make eye contact with drivers to be sure they see you before entering a street.
• Help keep family, friends and coworkers safe by reminding them to put their phone away if you see them walking with it. It can take time and practice to break bad habits so friendly reminders are sometimes necessary.
• Don’t forget about kids and teens, who are sometimes even bigger users of cell phones or other electronic devices than adults. Teach them about distracted walking and how to stay safe whether they are walking to school or just around the house.

Awareness is key to preventing injuries. Keep these tips in mind every day and stay out of the hospital by saving cell phone use for a safe time and place.