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Danger of ‘Distracted Walking’ While Using Cell Phones on the Rise

The National Safety Council has officially added distracted walking to its annual report of unintentional deaths and injuries.

But the NCS isn’t the only concerned party. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reports that the number of pedestrians injured from being distracted while using cell phones has more than doubled since 2004. A recent report from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association provides myriad statistics on the burgeoning problem:

  • 54% of adult cell phone users have run into something or someone while distracted by their devices
  • Nearly half of the pedestrians crossing at busy intersections do so while engaged in distracting activities
  • 40% of teens have been injured or nearly injured by a car, motorcycle, or bike, and the risk doubles when they are distracted by cellular devices.
  • In the case of students, one in five high schoolers and one in eight middle schoolers cross the street while distracted

While emergency rooms already see more than 2,000 patients annually due to distracted walking injuries, orthopedic surgeon Claudette Lajam feels the problem is only “getting worse” as we see more and more features — and potential distractions — added to our phones.

Perhaps one of the most pointed examples of this danger is the brief story of Sheridan, Indiana’s Joshua Burwell. In hopes of photographing one of the famous sunsets from Sunset Cliffs during his visit to Southern California, Burwell became so preoccupied with taking the picture that he fell more than forty feet to his death.

Death and injury for something so trivial seems like a cruel joke, but it’s a punchline being delivered with increasing frequency in our daily lives. Most of us don’t even think about the potential dangers as we turn our eyes away from our physical environment to focus — even briefly — on our virtual one. The risk simply isn’t worth a few moments of difference in the time it takes you to “like” a picture of an internet celeb’s cat.

Please, don’t be a pedtextrian.

Follow Nate Church @Get2Church on Twitter for the latest news in gaming and technology, and snarky opinions on both.

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