According to the results of a study recently conducted by researchers from Anglia Ruskin University in England in the United Kingdom, walking while busy text messaging causes people to walk weird, or at least, increases the likelihood of accidents (which is absolutely no surprise to any mobile user today).
What the research team at Anglia Ruskin University did was equip test subjects with mobile eye trackers that not only keep track of their immediate line of sight, but also monitor and observe the way they take their steps. These subjects were then made to go through an obstacle while composing a message, reading a received text, and while not carrying a mobile device.
It goes without saying that the subjects who were busy typing or reading a text were less likely to watch where they were going -- the scientists found that people looked at the obstacle for up to 61 percent less time compared to those that were not engaged in a mobile device. The Anglia Ruskin University team also noticed that those who were using a phone had a tendency to walk in a kind of awkward or unnatural manner. Those texting were noticeably making more exaggerated steps, with texters lifting their lead foot 18 percent higher and moving their lead foot 40 percent more slowly.
The Anglia Ruskin University study also pointed out how 78 percent of all mobile device related injuries recorded by the United States National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) for emergency bureaus from 2000 to 2011 were due to falls. As explained by Matthew Timmis, senior lecturer in the field of sport and exercise science at the university, accidents tend to happen more often because texters were not conscious of obstacles or objects appearing suddenly, especially in the street, where there are automobiles and even other people present.
Is there a way to address or at least lessen the occurrence of these mobile device related accidents? China might have taken a step in the right direction by deciding to create special cell phone lanes for mobile users about three years ago in the city of Chongqing. In the European continent, several countries there are already in the process of building fixed warnings on the street, in order to remind mobile users that there are obstacles just ahead. As for today’s smartphone users, it might pay to be more careful with texting while walking -- after all, if we can just be aware of that manhole up ahead, we can live to text another day.
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