Texting and Walking-Environmental Health & Safety - Carnegie Mellon University

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Texting and Walking

Most of us are aware of the dangers of texting while driving, but how many of us ever think of the dangers associated with texting while walking?  On a campus as tech-savvy as CMU, you don’t have to look very far to see it.  Maybe (or probably?) you have done it, or maybe you’re reading this article on your smart phone right now while you are walking to your next appointment.  

Obviously, common courtesy is often ignored by those engrossed in their latest text message.  People have to move out of the way of those who continue walking, oblivious to those around them,  but courtesy, as important as it is, takes a back seat to the dangers created.

Some of these dangers are minor ones, often leading to nothing more serious than a bruised psyche when you walk into something while engrossed in reading or sending a text.  The giggles of onlookers may be embarrassing, but beyond that, they rarely cause a change in anyone’s behavior.

But the potential for far more serious incidents is always there.  While few incidents have been reported at CMU, we know that texting while walking is a growing problem.  People have fallen down stairs while texting, or been struck by vehicles when they stepped into traffic.   Others have been mugging victims, taken advantage of by those who see an easy victim who is unaware of his or her surroundings.

A study conducted by Ohio State University found that the number of emergency room visits caused by texting while walking has  doubled every year for the past four years.  This has prompted some states to consider passing legislation to ban the practice entirely.    

Certainly EH&S has no desire to curb the progress we enjoy from advancing technology.  We just ask you to use common   sense.  Be aware of what is going on around you.  Wait until you get to your destination before reading or sending a text, or if you can’t, at least stop and step aside to do it.  

By: James Gindlesperger, jg57@andrew.cmu.edu, 412-268-3760