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The Dangers of Texting While Walking

April 22nd, 2016

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By now you've no doubt heard about the dangers of texting while driving. It's nearly impossible not to these days. But texting while walking? New studies are showing that it can be just as dangerous.

Have you ever been casually strolling down the street while looking at Facebook on your phone, and all of a sudden you bump into someone you didn't see in front of you? Or maybe you've accidentally walked into a tree branch hanging over the sidewalk because you were looking down at your phone. These accidents are usually harmless enough and don't seem like a big deal at first, but when distracted pedestrians are crowding the streets of busy cities, the danger becomes much more real.

According to a study conducted by researchers at Stony Brook University, pedestrians using cell phones are 61% more likely to veer off course while walking. But you probably didn't even need a study to prove that.

If you're looking down at your phone, you're not only distracted in a visual sense, but often your mind and body are engaged in what you're doing too. That leaves almost none of your attention left to watch where you're going. Research has even shown that distracted pedestrians adopt new walking patterns - partially to protect themselves from potential oncoming objects, and partially because they're just not paying attention.

Need more proof of the dangers? Look no further than our own University at Buffalo, where Dr. Dietrich V. Jehle has published reports that texting while walking produces even more injuries per mile than texting while driving. Jehle, a professor of emergency medicine, warns us that more than 15% of the 41,000 nationwide pedestrian injury cases reportedly involved cell phones. And the numbers are skyrocketing every year.

From a legal standpoint, pedestrians are usually granted the right of way to cross streets while motor vehicle drivers must yield. But what happens if a pedestrian isn't looking, or crosses the street outside of standard crosswalk zones because they are distracted? These pedestrians put themselves in serious danger and lose their right of way to enter the road.

It's our goal at the Letro Law Firm to keep you informed of potential dangers and keep you out of future personal injury or liability lawsuits. So if you've been guilty of walking into the occasional light post or getting honked at by drivers because you aren't paying attention, stop while you're ahead. You're only putting yourself and others in more danger.