The latest video to illustrate the dangers of using your cellphone while walking is of a Philadelphia man falling onto a set of lowered train tracks while talking on his device. The incident occurred last year but video from the station’s security cameras was recently released. (Note: In the above video, the fall is played over-and-over. We’ll update with a better video when we get one).
Security cameras caught him on his phone when he fell onto the tracks and was knocked unconcious. Fortunately, there were no trains headed to the station at that time, but it was late at night and no one was around to save him. He eventually awoke and moved to safety, but it could have been much worse.
This highlights the increasingly common problem of distracted walking, caused by people who can’t take their eyes or ears away from their cellphones.
It can be difficult to turn away from our phones and other mobile devices while walking. Numerous studies show that our mobile devices have become an addiction for many of us, with 60% of respondants in one survey saying they typically don’t go longer than an hour without checking their phone.
We’ve seen numerous incidences of people being caught-on-camera while running into danger, or at least embarrassment, while texting. In January 2011, a woman was captured on mall security cameras as she walked right into a fountain at a mall because she was distracted by her phone. Then in April, a man unknowingly put himself in a life-threatening situation when he was so distracted by texting his boss that he nearly ran into a bear that had wandered into a suburban California neighborhood.
Texting or browsing the web while walking may seem much less dangerous than doing those activities while driving, but distracted walking can put the texter, and those around them, in danger. In fact, CBS reports that injuries from accidents caused by walking while texting have quadrupled over the last seven years. A recent survey showed that 65% of people admitted to texting while walking.
Recently, law enforcement agencies across the county have been imposing stricter regulations and penalties for people caught texting or talking on their mobile devices while driving or walking, depending on the various ordinances.
“We are where we were with cellphone use in cars 10 years or so ago. We knew it was a problem, but we didn’t have the data,” Jonathan Akins, deputy executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state highway safety offices, tells the Associated Press.
Sure, cellphones are essential for today’s world, but it’s wise to put the phone away when you need to be focused on an activity that demands your attention — even something as seemingly simple as walking.
How might law enforcement or the public encourage others not to walk while texting? Tell us in the comments.