Driven to Distraction Forget Gum. Walking and Using Phone Is Risky.
By MATT RICHTEL The New York Times January 17, 2010
SAN FRANCISCO - On the day of the collision last month, visibility was good. The sidewalk was not under repair. As she walked, Tiffany Briggs, 25, was talking to her grandmother on her cellphone, lost in conversation.
"I ran into a truck," Ms. Briggs said.
It was parked in a driveway.
Distracted driving has gained much attention lately because of the inflated crash risk posed by drivers using cellphones to talk and text.
But there is another growing problem caused by lower-stakes multitasking - distracted walking - which combines a pedestrian, an electronic device and an unseen crack in the sidewalk, the pole of a stop sign, a toy left on the living room floor or a parked (or sometimes moving) car.
The era of the mobile gadget is making mobility that much more perilous, particularly on crowded streets and in downtown areas where multiple multitaskers veer and swerve and walk to the beat of their own devices.
Most times, the mishaps for a distracted walker are minor, like the lightly dinged head and broken fingernail that Ms. Briggs suffered, a jammed digit or a sprained ankle, and, the befallen say, a nasty case of hurt pride. Of course, the injuries can sometimes be serious - and they are on the rise.
Slightly more than 1,000 pedestrians visited emergency rooms in 2008 because they got distracted and tripped, fell or ran into something while using a cellphone to talk or text. That was twice the number from 2007, which had nearly doubled from 2006, according to a study conducted by Ohio State University, which says it is the first to estimate such accidents.