When you are walking downtown and you get a text message, do you check it without stopping? Do you respond to that message on the go?
A lot of people do. We live in a fast-paced society. We don't like to stop. People expect responses from us right away. We feel an obligation to text back, no matter what else we're doing.
This is a big reason for distracted driving. While the dangers of distracted driving are well-documented, the reality is that texting and walking also put you at risk.
In one study, researchers found that people who were texting while they walked:
- Tended to walk crookedly, swerving off of their course more than they should.
- Walked more slowly than they would while paying attention.
- Did not move their necks as much, perhaps cutting down on their awareness of what was happening around them.
- Consistently looked down at the phone, rather than bringing their eyes up to see where they were going.
None of these findings are surprising if you've done this yourself. You know that it's hard to pay attention, that you spend more time looking down and that it's not uncommon to fall behind your friends or to look up and suddenly find yourself off course.
The trouble is that these behaviors could put you in danger when walking around cars. Distracted walking can directly raise the odds of an accident.
Of course, simply not texting while you walk does not mean you won't get hit by a car. Drivers also get distracted, and safe pedestrians get injured. If this happens to you, make sure you know if you have a right to financial compensation.