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Texting and scrolling on touch screens has increased pedestrian injuries by 800%

Not-so-smartphones: texting and scrolling on touch screens has caused pedestrian injuries to rise by 800% and almost HALF of us have been distracted while crossing, warns scientists

  • An overview of evidence shows that ‘distraction injuries’ are now a major problem
  • Incidents such as the entry of lampposts increased by 800% from 2004-10
  • Up to half of the pedestrians are distracted by their telephone when crossing the road
  • They can meet other people, cross the road unsafe or stumble

Texting and scrolling on touch screens has raised pedestrian injuries by 800 percent, scientists have warned.

An overview of evidence shows that ‘distraction injuries’ are now a significant problem and are causing more and more accidents.

Being involved in texting and social media has led people to step into lampposts, get into traffic and stumble.

Up to half – 45 percent – of pedestrians are distracted by their phone when they cross the street in busy cities, research suggests.

By texting and scrolling on touch screens, the number of pedestrians was injured by 800 percent

By texting and scrolling on touch screens, the number of pedestrians was injured by 800 percent

A person who walks towards you while staring at his phone is a familiar face.

The scientists behind the study, from the University of Calgary in Canada, said injuries are likely to get worse.

They already account for around one in 25 road safety incidents, the team wrote in the BMJ Injury Prevention magazine.

Main author Dr. Sarah Simmons and colleagues said: ‘Given the ubiquity of smartphones, social media, apps, digital video and streaming music, which has infiltrated most aspects of daily life, distracting and crossing roads will be a road safety problem for the near future future.

“When extrapolated to the American population, an estimated two million pedestrian injuries were related to the use of mobile phones, without taking into account exposure or underreporting.”


Children from the age of two develop psychological problems due to smartphones and tablets, scientists warned in November.

Just staring at a screen for an hour a day can be enough to make children more anxious or depressed.

This could make them less curious, less able to complete tasks, less emotionally stable and lower their self-control.

Although teenagers are most at risk from the harmful devices, children younger than 10 and the developing brain of toddlers are also affected.

Researchers from the State University of San Diego and the University of Georgia have analyzed data provided by the parents of more than 40,000 American children aged two to 17 years for a national health survey in 2016.

Adolescents who spend more than seven hours a day on screens are twice as likely to experience anxiety or depression as those who spent an hour.

The American National Institute of Health estimates that children and adolescents spend an average of five to seven hours on screens in their free time.

The team assessed relevant studies on ‘pedestrian diversion’. One found 1,506 visits to the emergency department in the US in 2010 caused by the use of mobile phones in public places.

Since 2004, data has shown that injuries, such as walking into a pole and tripping and falling, increased 800 percent from 0.4 percent to 3.7 percent of pedestrian injuries. Men under 30 were the biggest victims.

Dr. Simmons and colleagues combined the results of 22 previous studies, involving 872 people with an average age of 21 years.

The studies investigated how pedestrians behave while using a cell phone, such as how long it took to cross the road and whether they carefully checked for approaching cars.

The findings show that people who text or surf on the internet while walking would be considerably less likely to look left and right before crossing the road. It also took longer to cross a road.

There were also higher chances of a collision or near-accident with a car or other pedestrian, the studies showed.

Pedestrians who talked to the ear with their phones were less likely to have an accident or near accident – and usually looked up at the traffic.

But it took too long to cross the road and often missed opportunities to cross safely, the researchers said.

Listening to music did not result in any performance reduction for any of the measures examined.

“As expected, texting or browsing had the most damaging effects,” Dr. wrote. Simmons and colleagues.

‘For texting, a pedestrian must repeatedly divert his eyes from the walking environment and traffic to the phone’s screen to type and read messages.

‘Browsing requires repeated device interactions and scanning information.

“If pedestrians do not look left and right when crossing a street, the detection of vehicles is probably also reduced.”

Looking at eight observation studies that were conducted in cities around the world, pedestrians who were distracted revealed 12 to 45 percent, depending on things such as whether the person was with a friend or alone.

A study of more than 34,300 teenagers found that one in five high school children was distracted by their phone while crossing the road.