It happens often that we get a call and then go outside to start walking while we speak on our cell phones. Most of the time, nothing happens. You reach your destination safely. But it's not always like that. Researchers have noted that people who chat on cells and walk at the same time can injure themselves dramatically. There was an incident in Philadelphia where someone was on their phone and fell into the train tracks. Fortunately, he was able to survive, but it might not have turned out with such a positive outcome.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 1,152 people had to be treated in U.S hospital emergency rooms for injuries caused by walking and talking on the phone at the same time. Authorities have now called this form of 'walking and talking' a form of distraction. CBS reports have stated that more than 65% of people admitted that they commonly walked and talked at the same time. Out of this, more than 52% were in serious danger of injuring themselves or surrounding people. These commuters were oblivious to their surroundings and they were a danger to themselves and to other walkers as well.
This distracted walking pattern is now considered the main reason for increased pedestrian-caused traffic accidents A new study published by the Applied Cognitive Psychology journal substantiated these findings. The study noted that cell phone users changed direction frequently while walking and talking and they also weaved around frequently. They were also 2.1% less likely to acknowledge other walkers and 4.3% more likely to bump into them or fall off the path. Another startling fact noted was that 57% of these users who were walking and talking completed missed observing their surroundings. More than 75% demonstrated lack of attention blindness where they completely missed distinct but unusual visual clues. These findings were substantiated by a Hatfield & Murphy, 2007 study which stated that pedestrians chatting on a cellphone were more likely to move slowly, weave about in traffic, and were less likely to stop for oncoming traffic.
To deal with the problems, most states are now pushing through laws regarding the use of cell phones while walking. Fort Lee, New Jersey officials issue fines of $85 to pedestrians who violate this rule by jaywalking while on phones. Arkansas, Illinois and New York legislatures are also pushing through distracted walking bills to protect commuters and drivers and to increase awareness about the problem. The New York State Legislation was first proposed in 2007 but it was not popular. Authorities first woke up to the danger when a video of a text-messaging woman falling into a mall fountain went viral. This quickly drummed up support for the bill. The proposed bill will prevent pedestrians walking while using cell phones, MP3 players, and other mechanical devices. A similar bill is being pushed through the Knesset in Israel which will make it a law in a few years. However, the effectiveness and enforcement of the law in the US still remains to be seen.