Millions risk life by texting while walking
Millions of people are risking their lives
by texting as they saunter along busy streets. One in 10 mobile phone users
sustains injuries because they fail to notice objects, lamp posts or cars,
says Joanna Lumdsen of Aston University, UK. Studies indicate that mobile
phone texting uses up so much brain power, people simply don’t notice one in
five potential hazards as they walk down a pavement, she added.
“We have to focus our visual attention and a lot of our mental processing resources on our mobile phones if we want to write and send a text message,” she told the British Science Festival at Birmingham, reports the Daily Mail. In London, two teenage pedestrians are injured or killed every day as a result of using mobile phones while walking, she said.
To test the danger of texting distractions, Lumsden created a lab experiment in which volunteers follow a colour-coded path while trying to type in a message on a phone.
Around them, video screens flash up colours — including instructions to avoid stepping on particular colours on the floor.
She found that people miss one in five potential hazards because they are so preoccupied with their phones.
“In real life this means that one in five bollards (short vertical posts), lamp posts, raised kerbs or even moving vehicles is likely to go unnoticed by people texting and walking,” she said.
Her research is looking for ways manufacturers could improve the design of phones to make texting on the move safer.