BALTIMORE (WJZ)– We’ve all heard of distracted driving, but did you know distracted walking can be just as deadly? The danger is real, and growing.

Jessica Kartalija shows us how texting is putting us in harm’s way.

Everywhere you look, we’re multitasking– walking, talking and texting, or trying to.

A Pennsylvania woman was so busy with her texting, she toppled into a fountain.

“The humiliation. Ask my husband. I cried for days,” she said.

A Canadian reporter’s live shot was upstaged by a texting woman tripping down stairs. In California, a man was so focused on his texting, he came face-to-face with a bear wandering the suburbs.

More disturbing: A distracted man on his cell phone in a Philadelphia train station stumbled and fell onto the tracks. Luckily, no train was coming.

Walking and talking on your cell phone is distracting but texting is much worse. When you’re looking down at your phone, that next step may mean trouble.

“I was pretty much texting this whole way up,” Michele Lester said.

Rushing to meet her friends to watch a Ravens game, Lester stumbled right off the edge of the road.

Lester: “I lost my balance because my phone was in my face.”
Kartalija: “But you’re not alone. Thousands of people do this everyday.”
Lester: “You’re not paying attention like you should be.”

More than 1,100 people ended up in the emergency room last year, injured while walking and using their phone. In the past seven years, these injuries have more than quadrupled and the actual numbers are likely higher.

“I think the majority of them go unreported,” Dr. Richard Lichenstein of the University of Maryland Medical Center said.

He is researching the growing dangers of distracted walking.

“We have this belief that we can multitask, when in effect, we really can’t do it,” he said. “The scientific term is something called inattentional blindness.”

As a nation, we sent 12.2 million texts a month back in 2000. Nine years later, we were sending 135 billion a month. And many of us are doing it on foot.

“I think a good term is pedtextrians. That would be a pedestrian who’s texting at the same time,” Lichenstein said.

Kartalija: “These potentially deadly incidents are preventable.”
Lichenstein: “Whatever you’re doing can wait until wherever you go.”

“It was one text that could have waited,” Lester said.

“When you’re distracted, it certainly could be something as simple as turning your ankle. But if a car hits you, the game is over,” Lichenstein said.

Several states have tried to pass distracted walking laws, but so far none has been approved.


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