Distracted Walking a Danger, Doctors Say

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CLEVELAND --  For years, the public has heard warnings about the dangers of distracted driving, but now doctors and others want to warn people about distracted walking.

Injuries from distracted walking have quadrupled over the past seven years.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 1,152 people were treated at various hospitals for injuries related to distracted walking and the most common distraction is the cellphone.

People texting while walking have been struck by cars and bicycles, fallen off curbs, tripped into potholes and bumped into poles.

Monique Box said she was almost hurt, and explained, “I was texting and walking and I didn’t see the pole and I almost ran into it. It was crazy.”

A separate study found that 116 pedestrians have been killed or seriously injured while distracted walking.

We do see a lot of pedestrians struck,” said Dr. Craig Bates, a MetroHealth Medical Center emergency medicine physician.  “Now how often that was related to the pedestrian texting or the driver, it’s hard to know.”

Doctors say patients aren’t always forthcoming with details on how they were wounded.

However, some of the distracted walkers’ mishaps have been captured on surveillance cameras.

A California woman fell face-first into a fountain while walking and texting and a Staten Island teenager texted her way right into an open manhole.

Injuries range from scrapes and bruises to concussions and broken bones.

“In today’s world there are plenty of things to get hurt by if you don’t pay attention,” said Dr. Bates.

Some states, including New York and Illinois, have tried to pass distracted walking laws, but the measures didn’t get very far.

Other state and local officials hope to combat the growing problem with public safety campaigns.

Doctors say it comes down to common sense.

If you are going to walk, put the cellphone away and focus on where you are going.

“And avoid getting hurt doing something silly like walking in the street and getting hit by a car,” said Dr. Bates.

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