A lot of fuss is made around careless drivers, with strict new laws coming into effect in Victoria late last year, but a new study looked specifically looked at what happens to pedestrians when they walk and text.
A team of Australian researchers studied the movement patterns of 26 people as they walked normally and then as they walked with their eyes glued to the screen on their smartphones.
The study found 'textwalkers' walked more slowly as well as moving their necks less, their heads more and hunched their shoulders forward.
Head researcher Siobhan Schabrun, from the University of Western Sydney, said that the study showed texters also find it difficult to walk in a straight line, and that they "reminded her of elderly robots."
“They lock their arms, trunk and head together all in aid of keeping the phone steady in front of their eyes,” she explained. “Previous studies on older populations shows that this type of more rigid posture puts you at greater risk of falling.”
Schabrun said there is little data on how many people are injured while texting.
ABC reported that a 2013 Ohio State University study found that more than 1,500 people were treated in emergency rooms for cell phone-related incidents in 2012, up from just 559 clumsy texting incidences in 2004.
Schabrun also found that that 35% of her study’s subjects reported having an accident while texting including trips, falls, collisions with other people and walking into an obstacle.
“People think they are going in a straight line but they aren’t,” she she said.
“If you do need to text, move to one side, stop, then text,” she said.
“When you are done you can continue walking.”
Schabrun's study is available for viewing in the PLOS ONE journal.