Texting And Walking: 1 In 3 People Distracted By Mobile Devices While Crossing The Street

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TEXTING AND WALKING
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We all know about the dangers of distracted driving … but maybe we should be concerned about distracted walking, too.

A new study in the journal Injury Prevention shows that nearly one in three people cross busy streets while distracted by their cell phones -- and some are even doing it during rush hour.

The most dangerous distracted walking activity? Texting -- people who texted took nearly two seconds longer than non-texters to cross around three or four lanes of traffic. And they also ignored traffic lights, didn't look both ways and crossed in an area that is not the crosswalk nearly four times more than non-texters.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Washington, included 1,102 pedestrians who were monitored for their "distracted" activities: listening to music, texting, talking on the phone, talking to a companion, or dealing with a child or pet.

The researchers found that nearly half of the time, these distracted activities were taking place during rush hour (between the hours of 8 and 9 a.m.). The age group most likely to be guilty of this: 25-to-44-year-olds.

The researchers also found that just slightly fewer than a third of the people in the study were distracted in some way when they crossed the road: 11 percent listened to music, 6 percent talked on the phone, and 7 percent text messaged.

Fortunately, most people at least followed the basic rules of the road -- 80 percent of people obeyed the traffic lights, and 94 percent crossed at the crosswalk. But only about 25 percent looked both ways before crossing the stress.

Distracted walking seems to be on the rise, with the Associated Press reporting earlier this year that hospitalizations from the practice have gone up fourfold from seven years ago.

"We are where we were with cellphone use in cars 10 years or so ago. We knew it was a problem, but we didn't have the data," Jonathan Akins, the deputy executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, told the Associated Press.

Some cities have even taken steps to try to curb texting and walking: Fort Lee, N.J. issues fines to jaywalkers -- including those distracted by their phones.

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