There are over 2 billion smartphone users in the world, and the projected number only gets higher every year. This little phone that we carry around every single day connects us to our family, friends, the news, and addictive games like Candy Crush. It can be hard for everyday smartphone users to take their eyes off of the little screen while doing menial tasks like watching TV, sitting down to dinner, and crossing the street. We’re multi-taskers, right? Sure we know that texting while driving is dangerous, but did you know that texting while walking can result in terrible injuries, too?
Texting on the Street
In one particular video, an anchor on ABC News calls texting and walking an epidemic. ABC News also claims that over 1,000 people were sent to the emergency room in 2008 due to texting while walking-related injuries. During this video, ABC shows some funny videos of people walking into street poles, however, they urge their viewers to take texting and walking more seriously. During their “man on the street” interview with a police chief from Fort Lee, New Jersey, he cites that the city has had “25 people hit by cars” due to paying too much attention to their phones rather than their surroundings. In order to lower these numbers, the police officers around Fort Lee have doubled down on jaywalking violations. Someone caught crossing the street while on their phone could get a ticket for as much as $85.
This might seem a bit steep of a price to pay, but it’s definitely cheaper than an overnight in the emergency room. The video ends with the ABC anchor informing her viewers through a held back fit of laughter that the city of London has actually padded street posts so people do not get injured when they run into them. It might be funny to her, but it’s probably not as funny to the previously mentioned 1,000 people that were sent to the ER.
Texting and Walking Can Cost You
London and Fort Lee, New Jersey are not the only cities trying to combat the rise of texting while walking accidents. According to the New York Times, Honolulu is doing their best to combat their own wave of smartphone-related injuries. The new law which was passed in 2017 grants police officers the power to fine the people of Honolulu for looking at their smartphones when they cross the street. This law hopes to bring down the number of pedestrian deaths and injuries.
Texting in Public Fails
In another video on YouTube titled “texting and walking fails compilation” several people, distracted by their cell phones, fall over different items they haven’t noticed or hit their heads on street posts. In one clip, a woman and a man are both walking on opposite ends of the street while texting on their cell phones. They meet in the middle and the man bumps the woman on accident, causing her to lose hold of her phone and she drops it on the concrete street. The phone splits off into two pieces and she chases after it. The man who bumped her looks up from his cell phone to see what happened as he continues walking away, casually. Not sure what’s worse in this situation; the fact that the man had zero regards for the woman’s damaged property, or the fact that he was too tuned into his phone to notice what happened to begin with.
The Action Continues
A few different clips from the same video show people falling into indoor fountains in malls and businesses. Another man falls into an outside shallow body of water as a family of ducks swims past him. One of the more terrifying clips in the 4-minute video shows a man confronted with a black bear as he blindly texts away on his phone before realizing what is in front of him. Once he sees the bear he immediately darts away in the other direction. However, the near bear attack is not the most terrifying part of this video compilation. The point of the video is that if you can’t text and walk then how can you be expected to text and drive? They urge this point forward with two additional clips of texting while driving car accidents. The first clip shows a man driving a truck and texting with his phone placed between his hands on the inside of the steering wheel. He is about to collide with the stopped traffic in front of him at high speeds, however, he manages to slow down slightly before the collision by slamming on his brakes at the last second. He is shown as being extremely disappointed in himself afterward, by banging on the steering wheel and putting his head down in shame. The next clip shows a young girl staring at her phone as she makes a turn and her car flips over. She hangs upside down in her overturned car thanks to her seatbelt.
These YouTube videos seem very entertaining to watch, but what about those who get seriously injured or hit by cars? Both groups, drivers or pedestrians, are equally at fault for distractingly texting or talking on their phones when they should be cognizant of their surroundings. We hear it all the time that “texting can wait.” But how many of us actually heed that warning? It’s unlikely that you haven’t engaged in texting while walking even if the act didn’t result in you falling into a mall fountain. The lessons of the video compilations ring true, distracted driving and walking can result in injury or death. As the injuries and deaths grow, more action will be taken by local police forces, raising the need for more consciousness on individuals walking around locked into the action on their phones.
Our modern culture demands the daily use of smartphones, but there are ways to be smarter about it. For example, when you are walking and using your phone it is important to stop and put your phone down at street lights. We learned from Sesame Street to “look both ways before crossing the street,” but we need to add “without your cell phone” to the old saying for it to work now. Keep your headphones low enough that you can still hear things going on around you. Try voice texting and download software that will read your texts out loud to you. The simplest solution is to walk to a safe area and proceed to use your phone there. If these solutions aren’t working for you, it might be time to look into smartphone addiction rehab.