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Watch out! New study outlines the dangers of texting while walking

It’s no secret that sending text messages while driving is a risky (and sometimes illegal) endeavor.  However, a new study has revealed that texting while walking can be just as dangerous.

Texting while crossing the street is considered one of the most perilous pedestrian behaviors. People who text while walking compared with undistracted pedestrians are four times as likely to disobey traffic lights, cross in the middle of an intersection or fail to look both ways. The study, which observed 1,102 people in Seattle, was led by Beth Ebel of the University of Washington and was published in the medical journal Injury Prevention on Thursday.

“The steady rise in the prevalence of text messaging and the use of mobile devices for a wide range of functions such as playing games suggests that the risk of distraction will increase,” the study read. “A shift in normative attitudes about pedestrian behavior, similar to efforts around drunk driving, will be important.”

Of all pedestrians observed during the study, nearly one-third were preoccupied by listening to music, sending text messages, or using their mobile devices in other ways. Distractions such as these also affected how long it took pedestrians to cross the average street. Those sending texts while crossing the street took an additional 1.87 seconds than those not using their mobile devices.

“Talking on your cell phone or texting while crossing the street is risky for you and drivers,” Ebel said according to US News and World Report.  “We need to start exercising judgment about when and where to use electronic devices.”

Last year, the U.S National Transportation Safety board suggested a band on text messaging and the use of mobile devices while driving, Bloomberg reports. More than 3,000 deaths, which is 9.4 percent of road-related incidents, were caused by distractions while driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Some developers have attempted to create solutions to this problem. The iOS app Type n Walk displays a transparent viewport of what’s directly in front of a user so that obstacles can be avoided. An app called Transparent Screen performs a similar task for Android users. 

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