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David Mittleman
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First There Was Driving While Intexticated…Now There's Walking While Distracted, Too

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Much attention has been given to the dangers of driving while "intexticated" or driving while texting, a major driving distraction that is linked to a higher risk of having a car accident. But now there is another growing problem that sent at least 1,000 pedestrians to the emergency room in 2008. According to a study conducted by Ohio State University, these pedestrians suffered injuries from tripping, falling, or running into something–including parked cars–while walking and using their cell phones. While 1,000 cell phone users might not seem like a big number, that is twice the number of people injured in 2007. Furthermore, the 2007 figure was already double that of 2006.

With increasingly more gadgets to keep pedestrians preoccupied, the injuries are on the rise. While most of these injuries aren’t very severe, the injuries can be more serious. For example, in the same Ohio State study, the researchers analyzed the records of emergency room visits compiled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. One of the records indicated that a 16-year-old boy suffered a concussion when he ran into a telephone pole while texting and walking. Similarly, a 28-year-old man tripped and fractured his finger while using his cell phone while walking. Overall, the study found that young people under 30 were more likely to injure themselves more often than older people while walking and using their cell phones.

According to researchers, in an era of increased interaction with electronic devices, single-tasking has become boring and seemingly unproductive. However, researchers are now looking at the impact of multitasking on cognitive awareness and the risk that it might impose on safe driving–or walking.