Texting while walking impairs stride, poses risks

Jan 22, 2014
A woman uses her cellphone on January 7, 2014 in Los Angeles, California

Texting while walking impairs a person's ability to follow a straight line and keep a normal pace, and may pose risks to pedestrians according to a study out Wednesday.

Researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia decided to study texting while walking since it appeared no one had actually scientifically analyzed how the modern preoccupation impacts a person's gait.

Anecdotally, the evidence was clear, even among the 26 people they selected for the study: one in three admitted to having had some sort of texting accident, "including falls, trips and collisions with obstacles or other individuals."

Previous research has shown that texting and walking in virtual environments can raise the risk of accidents.

The rise in the number of pedestrians injured while using their mobile phones to talk or text since 2006 has also raised concern, and some towns in the United States have gone so far as to ban the activity.

For this study, volunteers agreed to walk about nine meters (yards) without any distraction so their gait could be tracked with a three-dimensional movement analysis system.

Then, they did the same walk while reading on their mobile phones, and again while texting.

They swerved the most while texting. They also slowed down, and their heads and necks adopted a newly rigid posture that was not seen during their phone-free walks.

Posture and balance were also compromised.

Reading while walking was not quite as bad, but still worse than simply walking.

"Texting, and to a lesser extent reading, on your mobile phone affects your ability to walk and balance," said lead author Siobhan Schabrun.

"This may impact the safety of people who text and walk at the same time."

Explore further: Drivers "hooked" to mobile phones more likely to sneakily text

More information: Schabrun SM, van den Hoorn W, Moorcroft A, Greenland C, Hodges PW (2014) Texting and Walking: Strategies for Postural Control and Implications for Safety. PLoS ONE 9(1): e84312. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0084312

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Texting tops with US teens

Oct 15, 2010

Market tracker Nielsen Co. on Thursday released a study confirming what many US parents already knew: teens love to use mobile phones to swap text messages.

Texting your way to weight loss

Nov 18, 2013

If the idea of keeping a food and exercise diary keeps you from joining a weight-loss program, there may be a better way.

Phone call, SMS or perhaps a Whatsapp message?

Aug 29, 2013

Smartphone users' communication habits have been studied in a doctoral thesis at Aalto University. The users' choices are affected, e.g., by the strength of the relationship with the other party and the context in which the ...

Recommended for you

Can science eliminate extreme poverty?

12 hours ago

Science has often come to the rescue when it comes to the world's big problems, be it the Green Revolution that helped avoid mass starvation or the small pox vaccine that eradicated the disease. There is ...

Japan stem cell body splashes cash on luxury furniture

Apr 14, 2014

A publicly-funded research institute in Japan, already embattled after accusing one of its own stem cell scientists of faking data, has spent tens of thousands of dollars on designer Italian furniture, reportedly to use up ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Dr_toad
not rated yet Jan 22, 2014
Another "study"..

Good God, why don't these people have any common sense? Where's the study on nose-picking while driving, or the study that proves that useless studies suck time, money and productive research, while at the same time sucking the remaining intelligence from their readers?

The damned grant writers are the only winners here, and they are as bad as advertisers and politicians when truth counts.

More news stories

Progress in the fight against quantum dissipation

(Phys.org) —Scientists at Yale have confirmed a 50-year-old, previously untested theoretical prediction in physics and improved the energy storage time of a quantum switch by several orders of magnitude. ...