A new study on distracted walking released by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) finds that more than three quarters (78 percent) of U.S. adults believe that distracted walking is a “serious” issue; however, 74 percent of Americans say “other people” are usually or always walking while distracted, while only 29 percent say the same about themselves.
This sense of “it’s not me, it’s you” cuts across a range of distracted walking behaviors:
- 90 percent say they see walkers talking on the phone (and 37 percent admit doing so themselves)
- 88 percent are engaging in conversation (vs. 75 percent themselves)
- 88 percent are listening to music (vs. 34 percent themselves)
- 85 percent are using a smartphone (vs. 28 percent themselves)
- 64 percent are generally “zoning out,” or not focused on walking (vs. 38 percent themselves)
Despite the obvious risks associated with distracted walking, as many believe it is “embarrassing in a silly way” as feel it is “dangerous” (46 percent). Furthermore, 31 percent say distracted walking is “something I’m likely to do” and 22 percent think distracted walking is “funny,” according to the study conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs during October 2015.
“Today, the dangers of the ‘digital deadwalker’ are growing with more and more pedestrians falling down stairs, tripping over curbs, bumping into other walkers, or stepping into traffic causing a rising number of injuries—from scrapes and bruises to sprains and fractures,” said Alan Hilibrand, MD, AAOS spokesperson. Emergency department hospital visits for injuries involving distracted pedestrians on cell phones more than doubled between 2004 and 2010, according to a 2013 study appearing in the journal Accident, Analysis & Prevention.
The AAOS research, which involved more than 2,000 respondents nationally and another 4,000, total, in select urban areas, found that nearly four out of 10 Americans say they have personally witnessed a distracted walking incident, and just over a quarter (26 percent) say they have been in an incident themselves.