Texting while walking is something that most of us are guilty of. We can’t help replying to that message we just received.
Texting while walking can be very dangerous. CFP
However, while it’s fun to keep up with the latest gossip, we may actually be putting ourselves in danger.
A team of researchers from two UK universities recently found that people who use their phones while on the move walk differently than usual.
“Recently, a person in front of me was walking very slowly and weaving, and I thought, ‘Is this person drunk?’” Matthew Timmis, co-author of the study, told the Guardian.
It turned out that the person was just texting. Inspired by this, Timmis and his team set out to discover the effects of phone use on how we navigate streets.
A group of 21 volunteers were asked to walk around a simulated street, complete with obstacles such as a step. The participants traveled the course a total of 12 times each, either writing or reading a message, making a call, or with no phone at all.
It took the volunteers 118 percent longer to complete the course when using a phone. They also focused on the step obstacle 60 percent more and paid attention to the travel path 51 percent more when they weren’t using a phone.
Although there were no accidents, Timmis believes we should still be aware of what’s going on around us.
“The big risk here is suddenly-appearing hazards, [like] a pedestrian suddenly walking in front of you,” he told the Guardian. “You are not going to be able to respond to that as efficiently, which increases the risk of injury.”
To bring attention to the dangers of “text walking”, a temporary “texting lane” was set up in Antwerp, Belgium in 2015. And earlier this year, a special crosswalk featuring flashing red lights on the ground to get the attention of texters was set up in Wuhan, Hubei province.
“[Texting while walking] can lead to collisions with poles or other pedestrians. You could even be endangering your own life when you cross the street without looking up,” a spokesperson for the company that made the Antwerp texting lane told Yahoo News.