Texting While Walking Hurts

Pedestrian injuries involving cell phone use increased five fold since 2005

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D. Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Laws prohibiting texting while driving are appearing more and more across the country. But did you know more people are getting injured while walking and talking?

The number of pedestrian injuries involving cell phones in general has gone up more than five times since 2005, a recently published study found.

Talking on the phone made up about 69 percent of those injuries and texting accounted for 9 percent.

According to these researchers, the findings show that if the trend continues, the number of cell phone injuries could double again from 2010 to 2015.

"Stop moving before you text or call."

A study led by Jack Nasar, PhD, FAICP, professor in the City and Regional Planning Department at Ohio State University, looked at whether mobile phone use among pedestrians resulted in pedestrian injuries.

Researchers looked at data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System and tracked the number of injuries reported by drivers and pedestrians in the survey between 2004 and 2010.

The survey collects information from emergency rooms in 100 hospitals across the US regarding injuries involving different products.

The researchers compared the number of injuries involving mobile phone use for non-motorized users, such as bicycles and pedestrians, as well as for motorized users. Injuries that occurred at home were excluded.

In 2010, more than 1,500 pedestrians were treated in emergency rooms for injuries involving cell phone use while walking, the researchers found. In 2005, 256 injuries occurred involving cell phones and pedestrians.

Increasing numbers of injuries probably related more to an overall increase in mobile phone use rather than specifically to increases in texting, according to researchers.

Talking on the phone made up about 69 percent of those injuries and texting accounted for about 9 percent.

The findings are consistent with studies from 2005 and 2006 showing that drivers talk 12 times more often on the phone than texting while driving. And a 2010 study showed that 92.3 percent of mobile phone-related crashes each year were related to talking.

"In spite of the dramatic increase in texting, most of the reported injuries among pedestrians and drivers related to talking or reaching for the phone, not texting," the researchers wrote in their report.

Young adults between 21 and 25 years of age had 1,003 total pedestrian injuries involving cell phone use between 2004 and 2010. Adolescents and young adults between 16 and 20 years of age followed with 985 injuries.

“Parents already teach their children to look both ways when crossing the street," Dr. Nasar said in a press release. "They should also teach them to put away their cell phones when walking, particularly when crossing a street.”

The researchers said that the number of injuries related to cell phone use is likely to continue its trend as the number of cell phones in use goes up. They predict that the number of injuries caused by cell phones could double from 2010 to 2015.

The authors noted that some of the injured might not seek care at an emergency room, which may have caused the number of injuries reported by emergency rooms to be lower than what actually occurred.

The study will be published in the August 2013 issue of the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.

Review Date: 
June 23, 2013
Last Updated:
August 12, 2013