Watch Where You’re Walking!

Texting on a qwerty keypad phone. Image by Alton, Wikimedia Images.

Texting on a qwerty keypad phone. Image by Alton, Wikimedia Images.

If you’re texting while walking, you’re not paying attention to everything going on around you. That’s obviously bad when it comes to crossing the street or avoiding collisions with innocent pedestrians. But did you know that messing with your mobile phone alters the way you walk too?

A new study compares how people walk normally with what happens while they’re texting or reading on their phones. In particular, test subjects who texted walked slower, moved their necks less, and had more trouble staying on a straight line. The research by Siobhan Schabrun and her colleagues at the University of Queensland appears in PLOS One.

In the press release announcing the study, Schabrun says, “Texting, and to a lesser extent reading, on your mobile phone affects your ability to walk and balance. This may impact the safety of people who text and walk at the same time.”

Duh! This conclusion that seems so obvious that you wonder why it was necessary to study it. Yet if it were so obvious, you’d think people wouldn’t be texting while walking in the first place.

Unfortunately, common sense isn’t so common. But, hey, spread the word about the study anyway.

Maybe one or two people will wait until they’re standing or sitting somewhere safe to text. Otherwise, feel free to shout out if someone tapping away at their phone is about to mow you over.


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