Texting and walking may be dangerous

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Have you ever bumped into someone while you were walking and looking at your smart phone? A University at Buffalo professor says injuries are actually on the rise for people that are walking and texting.

Search YouTube and you’ll find an abundance of embarrassing videos where people are distracted while walking and texting. Some are funny, while others painful.

“It’s a very common phenomenon. So it’s falling down stairs, it’s running into light poles,” said Dr. Dietrich Jehle, an emergency medicine professor at UB, who also serves on ECMC’s Board of Directors.

While it all may seem pretty comical, Dr. Jehle said he’s seen first-hand a rise of serious cell phone related injuries in the ER at ECMC.

“We see lots of pedestrian injuries and pedestrian injuries are particularly serious because there’s no protection around you.”

Dr. Jehle said from 2005 to 2010 the number of cell phone-pedestrian injuries tripled in ERs across the country, even though the total number of pedestrian injuries actually dropped.

“2010 is the first year where there were more people actually injured as pedestrians using cell phones than as drivers,” said Dr. Jehle.

Amherst resident Mary Kate Baker said, “I would definitely agree with that. That’s it definitely not safe. I do it. You’re not paying attention. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost run into one of these signs just by doing that.”

It’s such a problem in some cities that they are baby-proofing their infrastructure to avoid these kinds of injuries.

“Actually in London they even put bumpers around light poles on these very heavily traveled walkways because people were running into them so frequently,” said Dr. Jehle.

“Hey, it’s good for them I guess. Getting in with the times if it’s going to happen. People don’t talk on the phone anymore, they’re always texting,” said Hamburg resident Tom Kirbis.

So will Western New Yorkers be taking this doctors advice to put the phone away?

“He’s probably right, but we will continue to text and walk,” said Buffalo resident Iven Krasner.

Dr. Jehle says laws against walking and texting have been written, but are strongly voted down. He suggests if you’re going to do it, download an app where it shows the streetscape while you text, or use voice command.

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