Distracted walking is all too common as we see it on the sidewalks, malls and even our homes. According to the National Safety Council, 80% of distracted walking claims result in a fall and 9% result in the pedestrian striking a motionless object. The most common types of injuries result are dislocation or fracture (25%), sprain or strain (24%) and concussion or contusion (23%).
Similar to distracted driving, distracted walking or multitasking (e.g., music) can impact your cognitive abilities. Research conducted and published in Accident Analysis and Prevention has found that “cognitive distraction from the use of cell phones reduces situational awareness and increases unsafe behavior, putting pedestrians at greater risk for accidents.”
The American Society of Orthopedic Surgeons has published safety tips when walking:
- If you must use headphones or other electronic devices, maintain a volume where you can still hear traffic and your surroundings.
- If you need to talk to someone next to you, make a phone call, text or do anything that could distract you from getting where you need to go safely, stop and do so away from the pedestrian traffic flow.
- While you walk, focus on the people, objects and obstacles around you.
- Don’t jaywalk. Cross streets carefully, preferably at a traffic light, remaining cognizant of the pedestrian traffic flow, and the vehicles and bikes in and near the road.
- Look up, not down, especially when stepping off or onto curbs or in the middle of major intersections; and/or when walking on or approaching stairs or escalators.
- Stay alert in parking lots, and on and near streets, especially during the winter months when it gets dark earlier and drivers aren’t as likely to see you.