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Focus on cell phones, accidents: distracted walking a new concern

Maybe you’re one of those people who truly can walk, talk and chew gum at the same time.

Even if that’s the case, though, health experts and researchers strongly advise that a cell phone not feature in that equation, and certainly not in any area where cars are whizzing by.

A new study just published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention highlights the results compiled by a team of researchers under the direction of Jack Nasar, a professor at Ohio State University. The central conclusion: Although distracted driving certainly accounts for a frightening and ever-increasing number of car accidents, distracted walking could easily surpass it — and might already have overtaken it — as a direct cause of crashes and resulting personal injuries.

The sheer infatuation of millions of Americans with their cell phones can hardly seem a surprise to any person these days. For a whole generation of young people, being firmly attached to their phones at all times is more a commonplace than an oddity, and constantly evolving phone applications all but ensure that successive generations will, if anything, be even more enamored of their phones.

Nasar and his team say that such a reality spells very real problems for public safety. Nasar notes that pedestrian fatalities owing to cell phone use could double from their current level by 2015.

The recommendation that comes with the research study almost sounds surreal. Nasar says that parents now need to be teaching their kids to not only look both ways before entering an intersection to cross the street. Young people also need to be trained early to put away their phones while walking.

Source: Medical News Today, “Avoid using cell phones while walking in public,” Joseph Nordqvist, June 20, 2013