Study Texting While Walking Alters Your Gait

first_img Just the other day, I nearly walked into a lamppost—because I was more focused on my phone screen than the physical world in front of me.And, thankfully for my ego, I’m not alone.A new study, led by scientists at Anglia Ruskin University in England, reveals how mobile phone use affects where people look and how they negotiate floor-based obstacles.Wearing a mobile eye tracker and motion analysis sensors, participants walked toward and stepped over a floor-based object—about the height of a roadside curb—while completing various tasks: writing or reading a text, talking on the phone.By recording where folks look and how they move, scientists found that, when employing a handheld device—”irrespective of how it is being used”—people’s awareness is reduced by up to 61 percent.Hence me almost marching face-first into a very publicly humiliating situation.The research, published late last month in the journal PLOS ONE, also highlights how handsets are actually changing the way we walk.“We found that using a phone means we look less frequently, and for less time, at the ground, but we adapt our visual search behavior and our style of walking so we’re able to negotiate static obstacles in a safe manner. This results in phone users adopting a slow and exaggerated stepping action,” lead author Matthew Timmis, senior lecturer in sport and exercise science at Anglia Ruskin University, said in a statement.So, laugh all you want when someone lifts their foot higher (18 percent) and slower (40 percent) over a hurdle while writing a text. (Results are similar, but less extreme, when reading messages or having a chat.)But just remember: You probably unwittingly do the same thing to avoid tripping.“Our findings indicate that phone users adopt a cautious approach when faced with fixed objects on the ground,” Timmis explained. “Accidents are likely to be the result of objects suddenly appearing that phone users were not aware of, for example other pedestrians or vehicles.China, according to Timmins, has started segregating footpaths with special lanes for those using their phones; sidewalks in Germany, meanwhile, have lights that warn smartphone users not to cross the street.“Initiatives are also being introduced in a number of European countries to place fixed warnings on the ground to alert pedestrians to the presence of roads and tram tracks,” he continued. “These could help to reduce future accidents.”An important step, based on a recent report estimating that pedestrian deaths increased 11 percent last year—partially due to distractions caused by smartphones.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Stay on target New Jersey pedestrians may get 15 days in jail for texting while walkingTeen legally banned from mobile phones because he sexted last_img read more

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